You have your 200-hour Yoga teacher training, and you are ready to share Yoga with all the people in your life who think downward dog is a cartoon superhero.
You create a sequence that includes all the juicy stuff you know, and you are certain you will convert these newbies into passionate students.
But your first beginner class leaves your students feeling confused, muddled and that maybe Yoga is not for them.
You feel like a failure. Your dreams of changing lives through the practice you love so much comes crashing down. You think that maybe this teaching Yoga is not for you.
The truth is, teaching Beginner Yoga is one of the most challenging classes to teach.
They can also be some of the most fun and rewarding classes to teach too.
And the good karma of being someone’s first Yoga teacher is a blessing that I personally have cherished for nearly two-decades.
But I also know from teaching beginners for over 14-years that there are some specific tools we need as teacher to ensure this is a success for our newbies and ourselves.
Here are my 5 tips to teaching Beginner Yoga with confidence and ease.
1. Keep It Simple
As passionate students of Yoga, we know a lot about the practice but it is a huge mistake to share it all with newbies.
You will overwhelm your students, and overwhelm in most adults equates to “this is not for me.”
The poses you’ll offer in beginner classes will be fairly simple, but teaching a downward dog from scratch is a lot different than simply cueing downward dog the way you might in a mixed-level class.
Breaking down poses step-by-step without relying on yoga jargon, answering questions on the spot, and offering optimal pose variations for brand new students with a variety of body types, abilities, and reasons for coming to class for the first time requires a teacher to be really comfortable with and knowledgeable about the asanas we’re teaching.
2. Remember They May Be New to Their Body, Too
Along with point 1 above, great beginner teachers remember that newbies may not have a relationship with their own body.
Things that seem super simple and clear to you may not be clear to your students.
Even the cue to “step your right foot back three feet” can feel overwhelming to students who have not thought about their right foot and may have no sense of what three feet even is.
When I teach I literally mirror and model EVERY cue I give and break it all down in step-by-step actions so my students start to make a real connection with themselves and the practice.
I literally say, “Look down at your right foot. Now step it back behind you about three feet or so.” While at the same time I SHOW them what I mean.
I may have students do this simple action two or three times before we even move into the actual pose.
Patience is key as we are guiding students home to themselves.
3. Celebrate EVERYTHING
Adults are extremely critical of themselves.
I don’t see kids think they are stupid just because they don’t get something the first time, but as adults we think we should get it immediately. When we don’t get it, we really beat ourselves up.
So as teachers our ability to inspire and motivate our newbies is key.
As I said above many adults who come to Yoga are actually making a connection to themselves for the first time in decades, and Yoga can actually be pretty complicated. So celebrating every “win” is essential.
So, not only do we need to make it S I M P L E, we need to literally congratulate our students on everything…in a sincere and heartfelt way so they feel they really are making progress.
I always thank my students for having the courage to try something new. I congratulate them for finding three feet. I congratulate them for their first downward dog.
One of my mottos in general is: “How they FEEL is more important than what they DO.”
4. Connect Yoga to Life
Something we need to do better in general in the Yoga community is to help our students understand the importance of their practice.
It is too easy to find an excuse NOT to practice.
But when we understand WHY we are doing something – the positive impact it has on our body, mind, and greater world then we will absolutely continue to do it.
When I teach beginners (and nearly every class), I share the benefits of each pose and practice.
I also remind people WHY Yoga is so powerful…such as:
· Learn how to “gain control” in your life
· Ease pain and heal your body
· Sleep better
· Be a kinder and nicer person
· Have better relationships since we are just generally happier.
I’m sure you can think of a ton of reason that Yoga is important to you.
5. Be Vulnerable
“How is BE is more important than what I do” – this is another one of my mottos.
We ARE teaching people poses and practices but we are also modeling self-care, self-love, courage, joy, connection and peace.
We must be willing also be vulnerable in ways that will inspire our students (and just over-sharing).
I share my story of how I was riddled with anxiety, depression and insomnia and how Yoga literally saved my life. I tell them how passionate I am and how I am so honored to share with them and that I believe in them too.
So many students have come up to me with tears in their eyes thanking me for my transparency and for giving them hope.
I use to be embarrassed that I was such a “spaz” but now I see that those challenges make me a great teacher since I can relate to what so many students are going through.
Don’t be afraid to share your challenges and HOW you used Yoga to overcome them.
You may inspire someone who was just like me once, trying so desperately to take back the reigns in their life and feel happy.
Beginner Yoga teachers are special as our beginner students, so I hope this article supports you in any small way.
Reach out to us our Facebook page and share your Beginner Yoga successes here.
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Beginner Yoga I Certification with Shasta
Thursday, August 3, 2017 from 8:30-5:00 pm
Friday, August 4, 2017 from 8:30-12:30 pm
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