Today’s blog post is meant to encourage new yoga teachers to start actually looking at bodies and making corrections. I’ve said it before, get off your mat and walk around the room and look at bodies.
Why? Glad you asked, my friend! As a new yoga teacher, you have to define for your students what value you bring to a class – why should they pay you for this – sequencing skills, compassion, spiritual teaching, instruction, even your playlist are all areas you can offer value. Otherwise, if you’re just going to shout out a list of poses and some meaningless cues that you memorized (which does have its place), you’re not bringing value to me, Mike. Much as I like you, I might not return to your class though.
Seriously, you know this stuff. I assume you have a few years of practice under your belt, hopefully with as many different teachers as possible (at least, at the beginning of your practice). You know the poses, what goes where and how it gets there, you know this stuff. Remember the first time a teacher set your hands in the correct position in down dog, how much better it felt? That’s what you have to bring to the class, as a teacher – your experience and knowledge. Having gone through TT, you already know more than most students. Share it!
The other day I taught a woman who at first glance was doing all the poses picture perfect. She was flexible, and easily got into the general shape of the pose. Because it was a single, I was able to focus on the details: foundation, rotation, hand and foot positions, breath. I offered a few minor corrections in some poses, and she sat down and smiled and said they felt great, that she’d never had anyone give her specific instruction before. So even minor changes to someone who otherwise looks great is still valuable and helpful.
Try this: next time you teach a class, during a simple warm up (sun salutations, always a classic), walk around the room and look the folks. Chances are, if you have 5 students, you can find something to individually correct on at least one of them – hand position, upper arm rotation, foot position in Tadasana, etc. Find it, correct it, now you’re a yoga instructor! Trust me, it gets easier, both to spot the corrections, and to have the confidence to make them.
How to make the corrections? You can gently say it to the person; or you can give the instruction to the entire class, but watch as that person (and often enough, the rest of the class) makes the correction. Maybe more detail on how to make corrections in a later blog post.
For now, though, you’ve brought value to the class.