Teaching your first Yoga Class? Here is what you should know
Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your 200 Hours Teachers Training Course & the best way to begin your yoga journey is to teach as many possible hours & students as you can from day 1.
Human tendency thrives on perfection & so to create the first impression you obviously want to go the extra mile & prepare for your first class.
Before you begin, spend a few minutes reading this blog & put your best foot forward.
Tips before you begin the Class
- Remember for each person beginning their yoga journey; you are possibly the first or first few teachers who can either make them fall in love or dislike yoga. You have the power to create an impact so use this opportunity responsibly.
- Teaching a beginner’s class is hard work. This is a golden opportunity to serve your student with all that yoga has to offer & lay the foundation of a beautiful, personal journey for each individual.
- Anyone who starts yoga will begin with learning asana, the physical practice of yoga. Focus on teaching asanas for beginners & then make gradual progress into the other limbs of Yoga.
How to Prepare for your first Yoga Class?
- Punctuality – get to class well ahead of time to assess the space, meet students, keep props handy & accessible, ensure temperature setting & the overall space is inviting & clean.
- Grooming – Look the part. As a yoga teacher always ensure you are well-groomed, hygienic and well put together. This coupled with a pleasing personality is a winning combination. Avoid using perfumes & strong-smelling deodorants that could be a distraction.
- Your Student– Each student is a gift. You want to gently guide them from nervousness, intimidation, apprehension & confusion to a space of freedom, clarity, confidence & joy.
- Relationship – Build a positive rapport with each student. Learn their names, ask them about previous medical history or injuries & questions that relate to the practice at a physical, mental or emotional level. This helps you prepare accordingly & customize the class.
- Sequence – prepare a beginner-friendly sequence in keeping with the age group, medical conditions & other special requests. Provide alternative or regress as & when possible or desired. Do not get flustered in case you forget or have to change the sequence. Just go with the flow.
- Group Dynamics – As far as possible you want to keep the group intimate with similar needs. Example – Pregnant women or Senior Citizens would ideally need exclusive classes tailored to their specific requirements. Try encouraging such individuals to a private or an exclusive senior citizen or prenatal class versus a group class.
- Your Mindset – Do whatever it takes to ease your mind & keep you calm. Your energy directs the entire class; so it’s important you channel positive energy. It could be anything from meditation to sipping your favourite tea & journaling.
- Studio Atmosphere – A simple ritual like lighting incense, burning a candle or a diffuser lends to the soothing atmosphere. Again check for allergies to fragrances/essential oils before you decide what works best. Avoid using music during your first class. (this could be distracting to you or to your students or both)
- Studio Rules – Ensure electronic devices & personal belongings are placed in the safe locker & rules for late joiners etc are adhered to as per your discretion or as per management rules of the studio. This avoids distractions that can impact the flow of the class & disturb others.
- The Gift of Time – Share studio rules in a nutshell before you commence so that there are no interruptions & questions that can be addressed post-class unless it’s absolutely necessary. Encourage students to show up 10 minutes ahead of time to ensure both you & them have a head start on your class.
- Be Present – Watch the student’s practice and help them improve their poses. Remind them to breathe as often as you can. (you would be surprised how many students subconsciously hold their breath, so gentle reminders to breath serve the class well)
- Eye Contact – Always smile & maintain eye contact with each student. Ensure no one gets ignored no matter or how small or large the group is.
- Adjustments & Corrections – Notice where they get stuck and see if you can help them get unstuck. For example, if a student is struggling in Adhomukha-svanasana (Downward dog pose) think of ways in which you can make the pose more accessible. Suggest that they use a wall, bend the knees, use blocks to ground their palms etc.
- Lastly, remind them that it’s completely natural to take time to adjust their body to each pose. Keep props like blocks, straps, bolsters etc. handy & encourage them to experience each pose with props & find their sweet spot.
- Always Check First – if students are comfortable with physical adjustments only then progress to give them adjustments as desired. Otherwise, resort to verbal cues. (you can give them cue cards before class so they can place them in front of their mats so you know who requires adjustments & who doesn’t. Students may also choose to change their cue card for certain poses so keep an eye)
- Communication – is crucial for a successful class. Keep the instructions & cues crisp, loud & clear. Body language should exude confidence, sincerity & clarity. Express interest in each student to build a unique relationship.
- Sequencing – You may have planned a sequence but reality maybe something else. See where your students are and meet them there.
- It’s not about you – Teaching Yoga to beginners is not about you & what you can do. It’s about your students; so encourage them to explore yoga gently. Don’t intimidate them with intermediate & advanced asanas you can do it with ease. Instead of gaining their confidence, you might unintentionally leave them discouraged.
- Post Class – Use the time after class to follow up & answer any questions. Use this time to also get to know your students better. Ask them if they would like you to include something specific in the class. Make meaningful & engaging conversations. A WhatsApp closed group is an example of a simple yet effective way to communicate pre & post-class & share suggestions, yoga-related information & class updates.
Last Tip, but most important:
Learn to be kind to yourself even if you had a bad day or an unexpected start. You’re doing the best you can. Consider not to compare yourself to other experienced teachers & be hard on yourself.
This is just the beginning of your journey so savour each experience & constructive criticism. Be committed to showing up on the mat with sincerity; teach with compassion & integrity. Enjoy every moment that is constantly making you both a better student & a better teacher.