After experiencing teaching this morning (and from my experiences of being a yoga student for many years), I feel that the way an instructor conducts a class is the most important factor to enhance a student’s enjoyment, such as:
- Personality of the instructor (calm, soothing and reassuring, confident and approachable)
- Tone and voice of instructor (assertive yet encouraging, loud and clear voice)
- Overall pace of the lesson (comfortable, steady pace – students should be able to follow and still be challenged)
- Clear instructions that are easy to understand and follow (regardless of class type)
- Knowledge of teacher (able to provide information on certain asanas performed eg. how it aids digestion)
- Checking on individual student and making sure they are okay (and breathing)
- Flowing sequence and suitable asanas (students are physically challenged but not pushing them till there is risk of an injury)
- Flexibility of changing the lesson plan anytime (modify the postures accordingly for different students)
In teaching, I believe there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. Every class is different. It doesn’t mean if you have attended a ‘perfect’ yoga lesson, you can use it to teach your class tomorrow. That being said, it also does not mean that a successful yoga class conducted today can be used again to teach the same set of students again tomorrow as they will probably want something different or would expect a little more. Strangely enough, I am not sure how, but students are able to tell if the teacher is truly genuine and knowledgeable in his/her teaching through his/her actions and even in their touches when adjusting them.
Today, we all experienced teaching yoga for a short 30 minutes to our fellow course-mates. Even though we all had our lessons planned out, delivering it was harder than we thought it would be – we all faced some kind of difficulties today during that half an hr. For some, it was the lack of confidence which affected the voice quality, for others it was simply forgetting what the pose was, forgetting to remind students to breathe or making students hold a pose for too long without realizing. However, I am sure with more practice and experience in teaching, we all will improve one way or another.
Being a teacher, I understand the importance of a well prepared lesson plan. Only through a well thought out lesson will you be fully prepared for the class and naturally draw confidence from. Lesson planning may seem tedious and tiring at the beginning, but it is definitely a crucial process. However, an effective teacher cannot rely solely on a lesson plan. Caring personally for the students is important as well. One must be prepared to tweak or even change the entire lesson plan entirely if it is found to be unsuitable. Use your judgment. Do not be disheartened if a yoga class you have taught today did not go as well as planned. Find time to reflect and work on it. Teach the same sequence again and again and fine tune different parts until you are satisfied with your own lesson.
Planning an inspiring yoga class takes practice. I’m sure all successful yoga teachers started out like all of us – and have gotten to where they are now because of years of experiences (and finding their teaching styles) and well thought lesson plans.
Lastly, always be the eternal student and give yourself time to grow whether you are a student or a teacher.