So you've completed your training, or maybe you're getting ready to finish, and are now ready to embark on an exciting journey of sharing the gift of yoga with others but you don't know where to start. As you step into the role of a yoga teacher, it's natural to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness. Building confidence during your training and as you start teaching is a gradual process, but with dedication and a well-crafted plan, you can feel more at ease and deliver impactful classes.
One responsibility as a yoga teacher is creating effective and creative class plans. ensuring your sequencing is inclusive for all students in your class, ensuring your plan is balanced. There is so much that goes into class planning and sequencing and it can be an intimidating part of being a new teacher. But, it doesn't have to be. Here we're going to explore how you can gain confidence and create effective class plans and sequences as a new teacher.
Embrace Your Journey
Remember that even experienced yoga teachers started where you are now and oftentimes have moments in their journey once tenured where they're feeling unsure or uncertain and as if they are just getting started again. Embrace your journey as a new teacher, and don't be too hard on yourself. When you embrace the learning process you'll notice a shift in your willingness to grow, evolve, and continuously improve your teaching skills.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Confidence comes with experience. And experience comes with consistently practicing. First, devote time to your personal practice to deepen your understanding of yoga shapes, alignment, and philosophy. The more you practice show up in your own personal practice, the more authentic and confident your teaching will become. Also carve out time to work on your class plans and sequencing as a teacher. That might be on Mondays for even just an hour. Take time to sit down and think about what you want to work on for the week, write it down, and move through your sequencing. When you practice this consistently each week, the thought of class planning will become more natural and less daunting.
Seek Guidance and Feedback
During your yoga teacher training, connect with your mentors and experienced teachers. Ask for their guidance and feedback on your teaching. Constructive criticism can be immensely valuable in identifying areas for improvement.
Teach Friends and Family
Start teaching small, private classes for friends and family. This supportive environment will give you a safe space to experiment with sequencing and cueing while receiving feedback from people who want to see you succeed.
Plan Thoughtful Class Themes
Effective yoga classes often revolve around a well-thought-out theme or intention. Choose themes that resonate with you and your students. Themes could be anything from self-love and gratitude to balance and strength. Themes give your class a purpose and make it more meaningful for your students. They can also range from anything that's calling you in any given moment (ahem, trust that intuition) or aligning with something that you're passionate about such as astrology, the chakras, etc. When you are passionate about your theme, it becomes more natural to weave it into your class plan.
Consider Your Students' Needs
Adapt your class plans based on your students' needs and experience levels. Whether you have beginners, advanced practitioners, or a mix of both, tailor your sequences to accommodate various abilities while providing opportunities for growth. Not sure what experience level you will have? That's ok. Once you have your class plan, go through it yourself (yes, physically move through it) and even film yourself cuing the class. Think about how you can offer modifications and options throughout your sequencing for those that might need a little more support and for those that might be ready for a little bit more of a challenge.
Warm-up and Cool-down
Always start your class with a gentle warm-up to prepare the body for more challenging shapes and sequencing. For example, if you know you're going to be playing with dancer at the end of the practice as your peak shape, think about incorporating chest and shoulder openers, backbends and opening the thighs and hip flexors. Likewise, end with a calming cool-down and savasana, that final relaxation at the end of class that brings the nervous system back to its baseline. A well-structured class will create a safe and complete experience for your students.
Be Mindful of Alignment
Ensure your cues are clear and precise, focusing on proper alignment in each shape. Think about what body part and what action needs to take place in order for students to get the most out of the shape and remain safe. Providing verbal and occasional hands-on adjustments (with consent) can help students deepen their practice and prevent injuries.
Embrace Flexibility in Your Plans
While it's essential to have a plan, be prepared to adapt. Students may have different needs or energy levels than you anticipated in any given moment. When you embrace this and you're ready to be flexible and willing to adjust your class plan accordingly, it helps you as a teacher remain flexibly (pun intended).
Connect with Your Students
Build a connection with your students by learning their names, listening to their feedback, and showing genuine interest in their progress. Creating a supportive and inclusive class environment will make your students feel comfortable and valued. This can be as simple as asking your class at the beginning how everyone is feeling and if there's anything anyone wants to work on today. Or, you may ask at the end of your class for feedback. Both of these actions shows your students that you are genuinely invested and care about what they need, versus just going through the motions of teaching a class.
Continue Your Education
Yoga is a vast and ever-evolving discipline. Continue your education by attending workshops, seminars, and additional training courses. Staying curious and open to learning will enrich your teaching and keep your classes fresh and exciting. And, your students will not only appreciate this, they will be very excited for the new things that you're learning.
As you grow as a yoga teacher, remember to practice self-compassion. You might encounter challenges or have classes that don't go as planned. Understand that this is part of the process, and it's okay to make mistakes and learn from them.
As you embark on your teaching journey, keep in mind that confidence and effective class planning will improve over time. Embrace the joy of sharing yoga with others, and let your passion for the practice shine through. Stay open to learning, be authentic, and trust that with dedication and commitment, you'll become an inspiring yoga teacher who positively impacts the lives of your students.