Not everyone is fit, but everyone should have the chance to practice yoga.
Often, beginners join commercial yoga classes with the conception of a relaxing and easy workout – but end up dropping out from the practice altogether, discouraged by asanas beyond their ability to perform well.
How then can we ensure that those new to yoga are not discouraged?
Here are 3 tips for teaching classes catered to those just taking up yoga (< 6 months experience) or the elderly:
1) Ensure your students well-being before every class
Ask before the beginning of every class about any conditions or health concerns that the students might have, and take a mental note accordingly.
This will help you pay more attention to students who are at-risk of injury.
2) Modify and tweak poses accordingly
Certain demographics of students may suffer from previous injuries or are not as mobile – a number of load bearing poses may be distressing for them. Keep a keen eye on how your students are reacting at each segment of your sequence. If they are uncomfortable, suggest alternate poses or use props to help them get the best benefits of the pose, with the least resistance.
3) Be patient and encouraging
Many unfit individuals are often discouraged from participating in physical activities due to self-esteem issues. They may be wary of being judged by others, or blame themselves for not performing to standard. As a teacher of yoga, we need to supply these students with uplifting messages and positive encouragements.
This can be through the tone in which we instruct them, or sharing with them the philosophical aspects of why we practice yoga – as a journey and not a destination. Our social media environment is particularly bad for self-esteem, so this is where we can turn it around and spread a positive message to our students.
By being passionate instructors with compassion, we can help our students grow not only physically – but ideally, as the trinity of yoga dictates, mentally and spiritually as well.