Demonstrate, adjust and observe: these are the three key things that yoga teachers should be doing while teaching a class. New teachers are often confused about how to balance their time doing each. New teachers tend to be heavy on the demonstration, light on the adjusting and really aren’t sure exactly what they should be observing. Below are some do’s and don’ts for all three:
Demonstrating is the easiest way to convey what you are trying to teach. In my experience, most people follow a visual example with the most ease. Until you are very clear and adept at verbalizing what you want your students to do, you will find that demonstrating will be the easiest way to get your students to follow your instructions.
Students like to see that you practice what you teach. Anyone can stand at the front of the room and order people to do a tough set of abs or an advanced arm balance. When you show that you can do it too, your students may be more motivated to try something new.
Try not to always fall back on a demo to convey your sequence. You will start to notice which verbal cues are clear and those that aren’t. If you don’t practice the art of verbal direction, you will never develop this very important skill.
Practicing along for the entire class cuts you off from your students. There is very little eye-contact, adjusting or observing. The connection you create with your students is important, and demonstrating too much does not allow you to establish this connection.
Demonstrating can lead to injury. Sometimes teachers demonstrate only one side which may create imbalance in the body. Busting out an arm balance or a deep backbend without the warm-up that your students have had is a recipe for disaster. Take the time to warm-up before class or in the beginning with your students so you don’t get hurt.
Spend some time during your class simply observing the room.
Make eye contact with your students. Smile, connect, put people at ease.
Make sure the overall level of the class is suitable for the group. If everyone is struggling, take it down a notch. If people seem distracted, get them focused on their breath.
Look to see if anyone is holding a position in a way that could be harmful and make sure you address their needs.
Adjustments help people to experience a pose in a completely new way that they are unable to do on their own. A safe, strong adjustment feels magnificent and your students will love you for it.
Adjustments can cause injury. If you feel even the tiniest bit of resistance from a student during an adjustment – that is a message to back off. Make sure you breathe audibly and in rhythm with the student so that you exhale together to go deeper.
New teachers usually feel nervous adjusting their students. People can feel your apprehension, so make your adjustments subtle. Go first to the people who need to be corrected to avoid injury. Check the feet, hips and shoulders – make sure they are in safe alignment. As you get more comfortable, adjust to bring people deeper into their pose. Move them deeper with their exhale – breathe audibly so they can hear your rhythm and you can breath together. This will enhance the experience and create a connection with the student.