On our second-to-last weekend together, we talked about teaching yoga basics. Teaching yoga to new students can be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a yoga teacher. Yoga can bring so many benefits in both physical and mental realms and it’s wonderful work to bring those benefits to beginner yogis. But teaching yoga basics is also a huge challenge, and not one that should be taken lightly as a teacher.
On Friday evening, we reviewed the different elements of a yoga class, including (but not limited to) intro/theme, warm-up and sun salutations, standing poses, back bends, arm balancing, inversions, seated forward folds and twists, pranayama, meditation, and savasana. At this point in the training, we have covered all of those elements in depth, so the next step is to refine our work on sequencing them all together into a cohesive unit. After this review, we began our work with yoga basics. The first thing to ask is, ‘what is difficult for your new student?’ When we are more experienced in any field, we forget the things that gave us trouble when we were just starting out. The items on this list turned out to be specific (stepping a foot forward from downward facing dog) and general (understanding verbal cues). You have to be ready for anything in your yoga basics class, so getting familiar with some of the more common issues is a good start.
On Saturday, I led the students in a yoga basics class. This was a simple class, not building towards any particular pose, but instead working on all areas of the body. We talked about how a yoga basics class is not necessarily an easy class in a physical sense, but one that does not introduce many difficult poses or transitions. For example, you might hold a chair pose for a minute in a basics class, which is challenging from a physical standpoint, but not from a technical standpoint, but you wouldn’t do headstand, which is technically challenging. After this class, we worked on ways to modify sun salutations. We did this through incorporating alternative poses (cobra instead of up dog), skipping vinyasa, and adding props in some of the more challenging poses. We also talked about how you could do downdog and most of a sun salutation at the wall, or even reclining on the floor.
On Sunday we continued with our theme of teaching yoga basics. The students took a yoga basics class with Jacque, who also teaches in our teacher training. In the later part of the day we continued our review of book 2 of the yoga sutras. This is the part of the Yoga Sutras that offers practical instruction for your yoga practice (but not your asana practice). The practices in this book must be done regularly and understood in order to understand the other sections of the yoga sutras. We talked about the observer (purusha) and the observed (the mind) and how the latter is mistaken for the former. This leads to suffering. In order to not be mistaken, and to work towards a reduction in suffering, we practice yoga.
The student teaching assignment for this weekend was to sequence and teach a 40 minute class that led to a peak pose. The teaching exercise led to a class plan that the students can easily expand into an hour long class when they begin their teaching career. The students have all shown a lot of progress and growth in developing their teaching voice since we began this training in September. It is exciting to watch them share their passion.
It's hard to believe that there is only one weekend left in this training! I am so impressed with all of the dedication and hard work the students have shown so far. I am confident that they will all be confident, competent yoga teachers.