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Students have suggested 12 tips for yoga teachers that you should remember

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Navigating the nuances when teaching yoga can be a complex dance. You’re challenged to somehow balance the unique blend of your personal experience and training with your students’ needs and preferences while also addressing those intangibles that create the class experience.

Being exceptional at it requires many things, including being able to view your class from your students’ perspective. Yoga Journal reached out to both beginner and experienced yoga practitioners and asked them what they’d like their yoga teachers to know. Here are some of the tips that yoga teachers shared.

Twelve Yoga Teacher Tips Your Students Want to Know

The following yoga teacher tips are intended to offer insight into students’ experience. Ultimately, it’s up to each teacher to discern what may be relevant to your situation.

1. Model, Cue and Correct

It’s easy to assume that all of your students, even those who aren’t beginners, know or remember how to do common yoga poses. Sometimes students depend on you to remind of subtle things, such as Activating Your CoreYou can also keep some weight on your back foot by tilting your pelvis. Students also mentioned how helpful it was for a teacher or instructor to demonstrate a pose as well as the transition and alignment of the pose.

“I pop into the occasional yoga class while I travel. Instructors have different styles, and because I don’t practice weekly, I often need a refresher,” says Christine H. of Galveston, Texas. “I like instructors to demonstrate, not just say the pose. And correct me if I’m doing it wrong. It helps me improve and get the most out of it.”

2. Encourage Serenity before Class

You want your classroom to be friendly and welcoming, but small talk can be distracting. “Recently, the students in my class were chatting like it was social hour. I like to use the time right before class to center myself and find my breathing. I literally could not hear myself think,” notes Shanna S., of Ely, Iowa. “I’d like instructors to take charge of their studio and ask for respect in what should be a quiet space.” Many teachers ask students to limit chatting to the lobby to ensure a serene environment.

3. Promote Timeliness

Being late happens. Starting class late or allowing yourself to be repeatedly late is not acceptable. Noisey entry of chronic tardy studio-goersDisrespectful of everyone is to start the event after the scheduled time.

“It’s unfair to students who make it their business to be on time for class,” notes Jennifer B., of  Orlando, FL. “I know this sounds unkind, and exceptions can be made. But for repeat offenders, it’s an opportunity to have a conversation about yoga etiquette.” If you experience repeat latecomers, consider taking a moment after class to remind them of the need for timeliness or ask the studio manager to do so.

4. Be aware of the volume (both your own and your music)

If your voice is low Your music is blasting, or some of both, this affects your students’ ability to hear you. And being unable to distinguish cues or what pose comes next requires students to scan the room for clues and engage the thinking process that they’re so desperately trying to leave behind during yoga.

“Speak loud enough that everyone can hear—especially people in the back of the studio,” notes Italia E., Winter Springs, Florida. Of course, you don’t want to shout and kill the vibe, but pay attention if you see students looking around or missing transitions.

Sometimes the most helpful thing you can offer students while they’re in a pose is silence. (Photo: Thomas Barwick, Getty)| Getty )

5. Know That We Don’t Need Constant Narration

While providing guidance and setting intentions, cueing students play essential roles in fostering a positive experience, sometimes less is more when it comes to speaking.“My top annoyance is yoga teachers talking constantly through practice. I need time to be and breathe during class,” says Debbie A., of Charlotte, North Carolina.

6. It’s Okay to be Human

Students appreciate when teachers are honest about their mistakes. “I love when Yoga teachers are laughing at themselves when they forget to do a side or fumble their words rather than trying to pretend nothing happened and hoping no one noticed,” admits Olivia W. of Greensboro, North Carolina. “If there’s anywhere I would hope people feel comfortable in their imperfect humanity, it’s with a yoga community!” Pro yoga teacher tip: It’s okay to be human.

7. Don’t Rely Exclusively on Sanskrit, Please

Sanskrit is a traditional language, but relying solely on it can confuse students unfamiliar with the language. “It can be disheartening to students trying to destress from the workday,” says Tia D. of Boston, Massachusetts, who prefers teachers who also cue the English name and instructions on how to come into it.

Students in a yoga class transition from Down Dog to Low Lunge while teaching a yoga teacher tip about noticing when they are tired.
There will be differences in how fast students are able to get into poses. But if many students lag pose after pose, perhaps it’s time to lessen the intensity. Getty)| Getty )

8. Watch Us

There’s a lot to juggle in each moment of a class. And if you’re new to teaching, simply recalling your sequence without leaving anything out can feel momentous. But there are also other nuances. “I wish that yoga teachers knew how to regulate the intensity and pace of the class and the heat in the room,” says Cortney S., Orlando, Florida.

Unfortunately, navigating the temperature of a studio and adjusting sequencing on the fly isn’t always taught in yoga teacher training. But it should. If you notice students struggling to keep up with the flow or look lost in class, perhaps it’s time to slow things down or offer alternate ways to approach a pose. Ask the studio how to adjust the fans and thermostat to avoid a hot or uncomfortable environment.

9. We Don’t Expect You to Know Everything

You can feel elated when students turn to you for the answers. Know where your expertise ends. You are human.

“Even I fall into that trap as a yoga teacher,” shares Liza C., NY. “When you force the image that you’re an all-knowing yogi, it minimizes the opportunity for a bond to be built through learning. One of the joys of being a teacher is learning from your students—what works for them, what doesn’t work, and what questions you may not have even thought of!”

Also, it is never your responsibility to answer students’ questions about physical aches and pains. Come up with A standard response that works for you to use in response to questions you don’t feel comfortable so that you aren’t caught by surprise. Keep it simple and straightforward, such as “I don’t know. I suggest you consult with your physician.”

10. Please, keep us in Savasana for longer.

Most teachers will tell students that Savasana has an important role in a Yoga practice. It is a period for integration that allows body and mind absorb the benefits of physical and mental effort. Unhurried Savasana provides exactly that.

“Please add more time! A three- to five-minute Savasana is not long enough,” suggests Monica L., of El Paso, Texas. “It’s so frustrating not being able to get a good relaxation after class.” Hearing people rush out of the room isn’t exactly restorative either, she adds.

When the sequence takes longer than expected, it’s common for teachers to cut into the time they’d allowed for the final resting pose. Please don’t.

11. Give us Attention After Class

Connecting with students as they put away props or linger in the lobby helps cultivate a welcoming vibe for students to ask questions.“I’ve had wonderful experiences with most yoga teachers who are willing to chat about that day’s class at the end,” offers Jacqueline D., of Exeter, Ontario. “I find that to be lovely and connecting. It often opens up dialogue that can be continued into future classes.”

You may have to teach another class across town in a half-hour or maintain proper boundaries between students and teachers with extra-chatty children. But a little extra attention can go a long way.

12. Know that you make a difference

You likely hear a lot of requests, complaints, and suggestions as well as yoga teacher tips from students, as if you’re a short-order cook. It can be easy to twist this into the story that you’re not doing anything right. When you share your yoga experience, others will respond.

“Yoga teachers have indirectly helped me heal from breakups, deaths, and daily pressures,” says Annie V., of Miami, Florida. “When my 15-and-a-half-year-old dog Elmo passed in August, that hit me hard. I was in a state of deep grief and did not want to do anything. One day I went to a yin-yoga class. It was a safe, gentle space where I could move and cry without judgement. I kept showing up. It gave me strength to get out of bed and start to heal.“


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