Now that you’ve read my series of posts “Yoga Teachers: Get Off Your Mat and Teach Me Something!”, I’m going to tell you to, in fact, do a few poses with me. I directed the first part of this series to what I’ve been seeing in classes lately – teachers just doing their own practice at the front of the room. The point of those posts was to get teachers off their mat and looking at bodies – see what people are doing in response to their instruction, adjust their teaching as necessary, and make the class meaningful to the students. Teaching, not doing, in other words.
Once you feel comfortable walking around the room, looking while talking, and verbally and physically adjusting, you can start integrating demo-ing poses into your teaching. Note, I did *not* say doing yoga with the class. Your own practice takes place on your own time, not during class time.
If you’re like me, your body may just naturally move toward the poses you’re teaching, because you enjoy doing them. Just as often it helps in your mind to move your body around as you talk the students through the steps. To a certain extent, let it. As always, be mindful of your own body – you’re probably not warmed up, you probably haven’t worked the sequence you’re teaching, so take it easy. What you want to do is demo the *shape* of the pose – *not* a full, 100%, on the edge expression of the pose. Let’s call it, 10%, if that helps. So if you’re talking the class into Trikonasana, do Trikonasana with them – but only 10% of the pose. Demo the shape and how to get into it, “here’s what it looks like” generally. Then step out of the shape and continue with your instruction.
Again – this is *not* you doing a picture perfect, “look at me how great I am,” 100%, Light On Yoga-worthy expression of the pose! You’ll hurt yourself. I have, most teachers have. Think, 10%, then use your verbal and physical skills to move the class forward.
Another part of this is that you can demonstrate particular movements, not entire poses. So if you see that the class is having trouble with correct foot placement in a pose, for example, Warrior II, you can demo that – just the feet, while you talk the class into the full expression of the pose.
As a final example, I often start out doing seated poses with the class. So I’ll sit in Paschimottanasana with them, and have them get their feet and legs aligned. Then, as they fold over, I’ll stay vertical and look around the room for adjustments to offer, or just as often, get up and walk around.
So yoga teachers – do a few poses with me!