Lesson planning and teaching

Yoga instructors develop a lesson plan for each class. As students, we don’t think about the amount of effort a yogi puts into planning a class to ensure you get achieve progress within one class and get value for your money and time. Certain instructors make their classes feel integrated and smooth flowing, but only highly experienced yogis are able to make teaching effortless.

If you decide to join a YTT-200 course, the training will expose you to how much effort, practice and confidence goes into becoming a Yoga instructor. In the Tirisula program, trainees are required develop a lesson plan and conduct a test class among classmates. Three days were dedicated to lesson planning. During the first day, we made and applied a plan for Ultra Beginner students; the second day was for Beginner students; and the third day was for Intermediate students.

I missed the second day (hence I am making a blog specifically about this topic), which meant that I went from test teaching for Ultra Beginner to Advanced. Some people might struggle to shift their mind-set from student to teacher — and I quickly realized that I was one of those people. Lesson planning can be challenging. Applying the lesson plan on actual students is even more challenging.

There are three key aspects to consider:

  • Student level

Students coming in will have different levels of experience and ability. So, classes are segregated between, Ultra Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Your style as a teacher will fit one of these levels better than the others. The trick is figuring out which one and also continually trying to improve on teaching for the other levels.

  • Program and sequence

There is a flow to the segments of a class. Generally, there is a teacher’s welcome, checking for injuries, opening chant, breathing exercise, warm up, asanas, cool down and closing chant. During warm up, you can include simple test poses to see the average ability level of the class. As for asanas, the ideal sequence is from standing, sitting, prone, supine, and lastly, inversions. For every pose, there should also be a counter pose. Transitioning between segments of the class and between asanas is also important to maintain pace, energy flow and momentum build-up.

  • Teaching technique

Aside from the lesson plan, the actual teaching part is important to rehearse. There are four key things to consider for teaching:

  • Demonstration (show to students how to get in and out of a challenging pose)
    • Instruction (guide the inhale/exhale, describe the exact movement and mention the asana name with a clear voice and relaxed but firm tone)
    • Counting (sync the breathing for consistent movements)
    • Adjustment (improve alignment and stretch with touch and motivating words)

During the course, I really struggled with applying my lesson plans. I am still at the stage where I understand the technique but am poor at verbalizing it. I fixate on recalling what the next step should be that I pay no mind to the student, which is a quick recipe to becoming a horrible yoga instructor. Being a yoga teacher is not easy, and for people like me, it does not happen over the course of a month. It’s an ongoing process of learning and applying then passing the knowledge on.

Our master trainers tell us that a high percentage of those who complete the YTT 200 do not pursue a Yoga teaching career; and I hope I do not become part of that percentage. I have a long way to go before I can say I have confidence in my lesson planning and teaching skills. I don’t know if I will make it, but I hope I do. One thing is for sure though – I learned so much from one month of Yoga teacher training than two years of being a Yoga pupil.

Guidelines for Lesson Planning (Beginners)

Looking for a beginner yoga lesson planning inspiration?
Read below tips to stay inspired when developing lesson plans for beginners!

 

I was exploring for many ways to create a lesson plan for beginners as part of my assignment … How do i spark interest in those who’ve never tried yoga?

There are some pointers to consider when creating lesson plans for beginners, especially for beginners who’ve never tried yoga before. Below could be some tips to capture the hearts of students:

 

Venue

Yes! Venue can influence how a person feels when he is in class. An outdoor space can potentially boost the energy level of students as compared to an indoor studio. For morning classes, students may be more motivated to attend classes conducted in an outdoor setting (in a garden/park) with a gentle flow because of the serenity and the fresh air. For afternoon classes, students may prefer an indoor setting with a more energetic flow.

Anatomical Focus

Wondering what does it mean by anatomical focus? Depending on the style of the class, anatomical focus help the students to be more aware and conscious during practice. For such therapeutic classes (i.e. hip-opening / back-bending), hamstrings, etc.), students will be able to improve flexibility for the intended area of focus. Additionally, identifying focus areas can help teachers to sequence and select the yoga poses to be taught during the lesson!

Adjustments

Beginners will definitely need the help and support of the teacher through adjustments. Correcting their postures allow them to feel the muscles they have to contract/relax during the various poses. For longer term benefits (i.e. minimize injuries), teachers should focus on fundamental alignments when teaching the beginners.

Accessories

For beginners, accessories such as straps and blocks should be available during practice. Otherwise, teachers may want to consider modifying to a less ‘demanding’ pose if blocks might not be available for the student to garner additional support. Students can also use towels as a substitute for straps.

 

Beside the above tips, having the passion to teach will naturally enhance the vibes of the class.
Beginners will be attracted to the class’ energy and feel good after the practice!

Relax, practice and be yourself.

planning and neutralising

I have practised yoga without really understanding the logic behind certain poses that we do. Typically, we go through a sequence of poses during classes. While it may seem effortless to follow through a class as a student while “emptying your mind”, I find it interesting to learn in Tirisula YTT that much behind-the-scenes work is needed to properly plan out a class. For instance, in an average lesson plan, we have to prepare for the following:

– Intro (3-5min)
– Admin (1 min)
– Warmup (10min)
– Asana (30 min)
– Pranayama (3-5min)
– Relaxation (5min)
– Closing (2min)

As part of the asanas, counterposes are important in order to return the body closer to it’s natural state. This will leave less room for injury and over-extension. An energy-inducing asana cannot be left without a counterpose.

Typically, poses such as urdhva mukha svanansana (upward facing dog) will be followed by Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). Matysasana (Fish pose) is a counter pose to many inversion poses like Sarvangasana (shoulder stand).

The counterposes help to neutralise the asanas that we practise. It may be easy to overlook the importance of counterposes as they may seem too simple for some. Yet, rest and focused breathing is necessary for our bodies to relax and prepare for the next steps. The same logic applies to music, when rests cannot be ignored in a piece. This theory can be applied to the approach of our daily lives. It is important to recognise that taking a breather is needed to maintain a good spiritual and mental balance. Brainless but neutralising activities is needed to bring things back to order and keep stress at bay.

Yoga for Runners: Lesson Plan

Yoga for Runners: Lesson Plan

As someone that has used (and enjoyed) running as their main area of cardiovascular exercise for several years, I am aware of the benefits and disadvantages it can bring. I definitely found this out the hard way when embarking on my YTT200! My hamstrings are super tight, as are my hips. I still struggle to get my heels down in Adho Mukha Svanasana but am working towards better flexibility!

I’ve created a simple lesson plan aimed at runners, or those looking to stretch hamstrings and open hips. This can be combined with running to help improve posture, flexibility and to prevent injury.

Enjoy!

LP AIM = to work on hip and hamstring flexibility/opening 

  1. INTRODUCTION 
  2. ADMIN Injuries?
  3. PRANAYAMA

ANULOM VILOM INHALE 4 EXHALE 8 X 5

  1. WARM UP 

Sit – cross legged – twist torso to each side 1- arms at 90’, 2 – overhead 3 – reaching round back 4 – interlace fingers

Stand – open hips circles, quadriceps stretch to torso, circle hips each way

  1. ASANA

SURYA NAMASKARA 1 – 12 STEP X 6

Hold in each posture for first round, hold 5 breaths in AMS and stretch through heels and hamstrings

Samasthiti E palms together at the heart centre

Ardha Chakrasana I, raise both arms up, bend backwards

Uttansana E lengthen the spine, fold forward

Ashwa Sanchalansana I, step the right leg back into a lunge position, hips 2

Santolasana Holding the breath, step the left leg back into a plank position.

Ashtanga Namaskar E lower the knees, chest and chin to the ground.

Bhujangasana slide the upper body forward and up,

Adho Mukha Swanasana E, lift chest and hips off the floor, bend at the hip and point sit bones to the ceiling. Legs are separated hip-width apart.

Adjustment here – direct class to bend each knee, pushing heel down. Hold for 5 breaths.

Ashwa Sanchalansana I, step the right leg forward

Uttansana E, step the left leg forward to meet with the right, fold

Ardha Chakrasana I, lengthen the spine, raise both arms up

Samasthiti E

STANDING 

WARM UP – 

STANDING HIP OPENER KNEE RAISES AND CIRCLES X 10 

LEGS WIDE FEET FACE FORWARD, FOLD FORWARD PALMS ON FLOOR, LENGTHEN BACK AND STRETCH THROUGH HAMSTRINGS

VIRHABDHADRASANA 2 – WARRIOR 2

TRIKONASANA – TRIANGLE

Use a block if very tight hamstrings in Trikonasana

SITTING 

WARM UP – x 10 both 

KNEES TOGETHER LOWER EACH SIDE TOUCH FLOOR (INTERNAL ROTATE) 

CRADLE KNEE, FOOT TO TORSO ROCK SIDE TO SIDE (EXTERNAL ROTATE) 

BADDHA KONASANA – BOUND ANGLE POSE

(use blocks under each knee or sit on block if tight)

PASCHIMOTTANASANA – SITTING FORWARD BEND

(use yoga strap around feet to stretch tight hamstrings)

PRONE

WARM UP – CAT AND COW STRETCHING, DOWNWARD DOG 

EKA PADA RAJKAPATONASANA – SINGLE LEG PIDGEON POSE

(block under hip in this pose to support)

BALASANA – CHILD’S POSE (COUNTER)

SUPINE

WARM UP – SIT CROSS LEGGED ROUND AND CURVE BACK 

SETHU BANDHASANA – BRIDGE

Heels close to buttocks. Lift chest, inhale. Externally rotate arms and interlace under back or grab ankles.

HAPPY BABY POSE

6.RELAXATION

SAVASANA

7.CLOSING

Beginner’s Guide to Adhomukha Shvanasana

Adhomukha Shvanasana or commonly known as downward dog is one of the most recognized yoga poses. Benefits of this asana include strengthening of the arms and shoulders and stretching out the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon. It also enhances blood circulation and brings energy back to the body by removing fatigue. This is the main reason why I would consider this asana to be a very important pose in a yoga sequence because if it is done properly it can help you regain your energy and aid you in not tiring easily during your sequence. Honestly, this is a pose I have yet to perfect but this simple guide that I prepared has helped me and I hope it helps anyone who is also having difficulty with this asana so that they can reap all the benefits this asana has to offer.
 Warmup ———— focus on wrists, shoulders, triceps, hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves and ankles
While standing
• Wrist rotations – 5 counts clockwise and anti-clockwise on each wrist
• Rotate both arms clockwise – 10 counts
• Rotate both arms anticlockwise – 10 counts
• Tricep stretch – 10 counts on each arm
• While standing swing one leg front and back while not moving upper body -10 counts on each leg
• Squats – 15 counts
• Hamstring stretch by bending leg to the back while standing – 10 counts on each leg
• Hamstring stretch by bending leg and bringing knee towards the chest while standing – 10 counts each leg
• Calves stretch by pushing against wall and with one leg forward and the other behind – 10 counts and switch legs – 10 counts
While lying down
• While lying down on the mat with back on the mat, bring one knee towards your chest using a strap around your feet push feet away from chest and try to straighten your leg while using your arms to pull the strap towards your chest- 10 counts on each leg
• Ankle rotations – 5 counts clockwise and anti-clockwise on each ankle
 Getting into the pose
• From a table top position with hands shoulder width part lift your hips towards the sky on exhale. Press your palms into the mat while lifting your hips and straightening your legs and grounding your heels towards your mat. Feel the lengthening of the spine. Stay here for 5 breaths.
 Tips
• Gaze between your legs
• Keep the weight evenly distributed across your hands and feet
• Belly should be in
 Variation
• Bend legs at the knees slightly and heels off the ground
By Rhadhika

Backbends & Shoulder Flexibility

I find it counter intuitive that the quality of your backbends is directly related to the flexibility in your shoulders.

After all, the word “backbend” suggests that you bend with your back. Shoulders seem like an unrelated anatomy. But you should give attention to the flexibility in your shoulders if you wish to improve your backbend technique: so that you can bend more from your thoracic spine, rather than your lumbar spine.

Here is one of the sequences that I really enjoyed in the course of Tirisula’s YTT training. It leads you through poses to prep your shoulders before going on to backbends. 

  1. Sun Salutation A x 5 
  2. Sun Salutation B x 5 
  3. Pigeon pose > head down > elbows under ankle > hands on floor and lift chest 
  4. Shoulder opening on wall > place armpits on wall > chin on wall > chest on wall > stomach on wall 
  5. Shoulder opening on floor > chest on floor > bend knee to touch head
  6. Wheel pose > with hands on floor > elbows on floor > touch feet with hands 
  7. Camel pose > move hand to knee > crown to floor > elbow to floor
  8. Transitions > crow to tripod headstand > to chaturanga > to crow 
  9. Headstand variations > lotus pose > backbend to floor > transit to camel pose with elbow to floor 
  10. Side plank > left > centre > right > centre 
  11. Handstand 
  12. Savasana 

I find this sequence helps me get deeper into my backbends. It’s tough and effective. And don’t try this at home unless you’re prepared to get the walls dirty!

Here’s us working on item 4 (shoulder opening on wall – chest on wall) during the YTT course. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Vanessa Tang –

Backbends & Shoulder Flexibility

I find it counter intuitive that the quality of your backbends is directly related to the flexibility in your shoulders.

After all, the word “backbend” suggests that you bend with your back. Shoulders seem like an unrelated anatomy. But you should give attention to the flexibility in your shoulders if you wish to improve your backbend technique: so that you can bend more from your thoracic spine, rather than your lumbar spine.

Here is one of the sequences that I really enjoyed in the course of Tirisula’s YTT training. It leads you through poses to prep your shoulders before going on to backbends. 

  1. Sun Salutation A x 5 
  2. Sun Salutation B x 5 
  3. Pigeon pose > head down > elbows under ankle > hands on floor and lift chest 
  4. Shoulder opening on wall > place armpits on wall > chin on wall > chest on wall > stomach on wall 
  5. Shoulder opening on floor > chest on floor > bend knee to touch head
  6. Wheel pose > with hands on floor > elbows on floor > touch feet with hands 
  7. Camel pose > move hand to knee > crown to floor > elbow to floor
  8. Transitions > crow to tripod headstand > to chaturanga > to crow 
  9. Headstand variations > lotus pose > backbend to floor > transit to camel pose with elbow to floor 
  10. Side plank > left > centre > right > centre 
  11. Handstand 
  12. Savasana 

I find this sequence helps me get deeper into my backbends. It’s tough and effective. And don’t try this at home unless you’re prepared to get the walls dirty!

Here’s us working on item 4 (shoulder opening on wall – chest on wall) during the YTT course. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Vanessa Tang –

Easing Beginners into the yogi’s squat Malasana (Garland pose) 

Malasana (Garland pose) is one of my all-time favourite poses because of its simplicity in improving back posture, strengthening the ankles, stimulate digestive organs to eliminate wastes, and the nice stretch felt when one presses the elbows against the inner thigh as the pose tones the lower body. 

 

I have incorporated it into my Beginner yoga lesson plan and included asanas that open the hips, stretch the hamstrings and strengthen the inner thigh muscles. The sequence after warming up and Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) includes: Chair pose (Utkatasana), Warrior I & II (Vribadhasana I & II), Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), Lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana) before transiting into Garland pose (Malasana).  The only comment from my YTT classmates that trialed my teaching is the challenge to stay longer in Lizard pose.

 

So happily after making minor adjustments to my lesson plan, I started to teach at home to accumulate practicum hours.

 

Over the two classes I conducted, 4 out of 5 students could not get into my favourite yogi squat without falling all over! I was caught off guard when the students were having such a challenging time.  However, I didn’t want to just skip a pose and move on. The graceful Plié Squat came to my mind. 

 

Plié Squat is an exercise that originated from the ballet position to keep the back straight while also bending the knees. Standing with the feet wider than hip distance apart, keep the feet turned and pointing in the same direction as the knee (45 degrees or wider). Because of the feet placements, the pose place deeper emphasis in the inner thigh adductors, while working on the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves as intended in the earlier asanas of my original lesson plan.

 

After holding in Plié Squat for 30-45 seconds, I got the students to narrow the standing stance, by shifting the foot towards each other (approx 2-3 steps inwards). The feet are still pointed towards the direction of the knee cap. And the magic happens! Keeping their back straight, all of them can now ease and lower more comfortably into Malasana and stay for 5 breaths… (before wobbling around while trying to keep the heels grounded!) 

 

Try this preparatory technique if you’d like to teach beginner students Malasana (Garland pose).

 

Cheers!

Ying.

Easing Beginners into the yogi's squat Malasana (Garland pose) 

Malasana (Garland pose) is one of my all-time favourite poses because of its simplicity in improving back posture, strengthening the ankles, stimulate digestive organs to eliminate wastes, and the nice stretch felt when one presses the elbows against the inner thigh as the pose tones the lower body. 

 

I have incorporated it into my Beginner yoga lesson plan and included asanas that open the hips, stretch the hamstrings and strengthen the inner thigh muscles. The sequence after warming up and Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) includes: Chair pose (Utkatasana), Warrior I & II (Vribadhasana I & II), Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), Lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana) before transiting into Garland pose (Malasana).  The only comment from my YTT classmates that trialed my teaching is the challenge to stay longer in Lizard pose.

 

So happily after making minor adjustments to my lesson plan, I started to teach at home to accumulate practicum hours.

 

Over the two classes I conducted, 4 out of 5 students could not get into my favourite yogi squat without falling all over! I was caught off guard when the students were having such a challenging time.  However, I didn’t want to just skip a pose and move on. The graceful Plié Squat came to my mind. 

 

Plié Squat is an exercise that originated from the ballet position to keep the back straight while also bending the knees. Standing with the feet wider than hip distance apart, keep the feet turned and pointing in the same direction as the knee (45 degrees or wider). Because of the feet placements, the pose place deeper emphasis in the inner thigh adductors, while working on the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves as intended in the earlier asanas of my original lesson plan.

 

After holding in Plié Squat for 30-45 seconds, I got the students to narrow the standing stance, by shifting the foot towards each other (approx 2-3 steps inwards). The feet are still pointed towards the direction of the knee cap. And the magic happens! Keeping their back straight, all of them can now ease and lower more comfortably into Malasana and stay for 5 breaths… (before wobbling around while trying to keep the heels grounded!) 

 

Try this preparatory technique if you’d like to teach beginner students Malasana (Garland pose).

 

Cheers!

Ying.

Going into Zen Mode via the 5 Senses

Hello there!

Last week, I partnered up with Sharon to conduct a restorative class for our fellow classmates as part of our practical training and I thought it might be interesting to share with you some of the tips that I have learnt. 

Like what the name suggests, a restorative class aims to induce deep relaxation for the participants, sending them to a meditative state.  I’d like to summarize our tips into how they influence the 5 senses that have. Hopefully you will find it useful and be able to incorporate this in your daily life ~

 

Sight

Ideally, the lighting should be dim and the space, clutter free. It is difficult to feel at ease with light glaring into your eyes and being in a space with a lot of things lying around you.

This is the space we prepared for our class participants.

 

Sound

It is advisable to play some relaxing background music – sound of nature (e.g. rain, waterfall, waves), meditative music. Lucky for us, as well as those in our class, it started raining a few minutes into our class, giving us extra Zen points.

After lots of research, Sharon picked this piece (link below) which has 432 Hz.

Apparently, listening to 432Hz music helps release emotional blockages and expands consciousness, allowing us to tune into the knowledge of the universe around us in a more intuitive way.

If you are keen to learn more about this magic number, feel free to click on the link below.

https://ask.audio/articles/music-theory-432-hz-tuning-separating-fact-from-fiction

 

Usually, the poses are held longer (5 minutes per pose) in a restorative class. During those times, we took turns to play the singing bowl. The sound emitted from the singing bowl works as a type of energy medicine that has been known to heal pain, depression, and stress disorders. 

Here’s a quote from the director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York, Dr. Mitchell Gaynor:

“If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.” — Dr. Mitchell Gaynor

If you are interested, this is where Sharon got her Singing Bowl:

The Singing Bowl Gallery (33 Erskine Road 01-05, 069333)

 

At the end of every pose, we used a pair of tingsha bells to signify the end of the pose and prepare the students for the next pose.

Random Fact: Krisianto fell asleep.. so something must be working 🙂

 

Smell

In our class, we lit up a slightly scented candle.

Alternatively, you can explore the wide range of scents that is available in the market to combine aromatherapy into your restorative yoga class. 

Rose: one of the most common and noticeable, rose is a wonderful scent that is used by many thousands of people to enter a state of meditation. The smell also brings about thoughts of romance and love among its many pleasures.

Frankincense: This is ancient oil that has been used for thousands of years in both healing and spiritual practices. The fact that this was one of the gifts to the baby Jesus delivered by the three wise men has put it in an honoured place in the Christian religion. However, the fact that frankincense is one of the most precious aromatherapy gifts has not gone unnoticed even in modern times.

Rosemary: Another of the essential oils used in healing, rosemary also has a marvellous scent that is perfect for entering the proper state of meditation as well as brightening up the home. You can mix a few drops of rosemary essential oil with water and spray the room to help get the full effect or use an essential oil diffuser.

Cedar & Sage: Native Americans have used these products in many of their traditions which includes smudges and burning dried herbs. There is a type of sacred vibe that comes from the use of cedar and sage as essential oils which are unmatched by virtually all others.

Sandalwood: This is another ancient scent that is very much a part of the Christian and Hindu belief system. Used quite often for meditation, sandalwood has a very pleasing scent that offers a pathway to a calmer mindset which is why so many people opt for this particular essential oil.

https://giftsreadytogoblog.com/2014/12/26/aromatherapy-and-meditation/

 

Touch

Touch can be in the form of props or adjustments.

You can be creative with your choice of props. In our class, we made good use of the cushions and yoga blocks that were available in the studio. We also suggested our class participants to bring large towels, blankets, or bolster to enhance their experience in our class. Denise even brought her cute bunny soft toy 🙂

We did a few adjustments to help the students with their alignments and to help them relax deeper into their posture (e.g. pressing their shoulder blades down in Savasana, pressing on the lower back in Balasana). However, not all the adjustments were successful (sorry Tammy, Louine, and PQ!!!)

Note to self: Be extra gentle in the future.

 

Taste

With all the tips above being executed properly, your class participants should get a taste of an awesome restorative session. Pun intended.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to use this tips in your daily life to reduce stress and release tension.

 

Keep Calm & Relax~

 

Namaste,

Ziyu 🙂

September 2017 Weekend Class