So you're a yoga teacher!
You've completed your yoga teacher training course, and you're itching to get underway with your first yoga classes.
Teaching yoga lessons is a fun, fulfilling career.
Whether your aim is to help beginners learn their first poses, or you'd prefer to be a yoga teacher for an advanced class, there are some intricacies and nuances you should be aware of that will help you be the best yoga instructor you can be.
The goal of yoga is to cultivate awareness, control, and serenity to combat the tempest of everyday life.
It's the job of yogis, like yourself, to guide their students through a seamless process, encouraging them to cultivate a mind body connection through yoga poses and breathing techniques.
But what exactly does a yoga therapy session look like?
In this article, we'll explore the basics of preparing for your first yoga lesson.
Spending some valuable time preparing for your yogic trainings is important for achieving a seamless first lesson.
Here are some things you might want to consider:
What are the Themes of Your Yoga Lessons?
A good yoga class should focus on a theme.
Charge your students to focus on opening up their hips or achieving extra mobility in their lower backs.
Alternatively, ask your students to open up to their emotions, or reach further in their meditations.
Having a theme to keep in mind will help create a coherent, inspiring lesson.
Keeping a theme in mind helps you work out a coherent and inspiring lesson.
It's a good idea to introduce this theme at the beginning of the yoga practice, circling back to it during each pose or relevant moment to highlight a connection to the greater theme.
Teaching Yoga via a Varied, Constructive Program.
No matter the theme you decide, for all yoga disciplines, you'll have to offer a variety of yoga poses over the course of your yoga lesson.
In some disciplines, the yoga postures won't change from lesson to lesson, nor will the sequence of the poses (asanas) change.
For many, though, changes in the sequencing and the postures will be an important part of your class schedule.
- Paschimottasana: the Seated Forward Bend => strengthens your abdominal muscles.
- Utthita Trikonasana: the Triangle => slims your waist.
- Matsyasana: the Fish pose => improves your breathing.
- Dhanurasanathe: Bow pose => improves function in the cerebral system.
There are some poses that might be great for a core strength body workout, but aren't recommended for people with certain illnesses or injuries. Make sure your asanas are adapted to the needs of your students.
Your Yoga Lessons Should Be Timely
Most of the time, yoga studio lessons run for an hour. The first ten minutes are generally reserved for breathing exercises and gentle stretching.
The following 20 minutes or so will include some fluid and dynamic sequences (Vinyasa Yoga), or, in the case of Hatha Yoga, poses will be maintained for 3 to 6 breaths. For the five minutes following this period, you might focus intensively on the central pose and theme for the lesson.
The next five minutes might be dedicated to balance poses, followed by sitting and stretching poses for 10 minutes.
The last ten minutes of the private yoga class should always be spent in meditation.
Each element of the class should be linked by gentle transitions.
Keep Your Students Safe
Good yoga teachers know that a logical flow between poses is an important part of the yoga lesson structure.
The logicality that is present in this decision will also help reduce the risk of injury to your students as they practice yoga.
Make sure that your students are properly warmed up and prepared for each pose. This will further reduce their risk.
Never begin a class, especially not a yoga for beginners class, with a Full Bow (Padangustha Dhanurasana) or Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana). The spinal column and spinal cord should be fully warmed up before these poses are attempted.
The best yoga teachers understand human anatomy, as well as the limitations of the body. This knowledge will help safeguard your students. If you're doing home yoga, listen to your body and don't ignore the signs if a position begins to feel unsafe.
Here are some essential elements of safe yoga practice:
- a yoga mat: you will be expected to provide them to students in group sessions.
- a towel to place on the mat and to dry sweat.
- a small blanket, used during the final relaxation phase.
Teaching Yoga: Know Your Students’ Skill Level
It's important for those teaching and practicing yoga to adapt their program to their students' skill level and physical condition.
During private yoga sessions, it's simple. Yoga instructors can easily ask what a person is feeling, and can minutely observe the student during the various postures and exercises.
During a group, however, you'll need to take more care. Not only are their more bodies to keep tabs on, you'll also have students practicing with different levels of mastery.
You might literally have someone trying out their first session alongside someone who's been sticking with it for a few years.
While this can get tricky, your goal is simply to be a guide. Their goal is mental and physical well-being; so encourage, motivate and reassure everyone in your class. Especially if you notice someone struggling.
Don't be distracted by the loud student in the front too often either, make sure you spread your attention as evenly as possible, perhaps catering slightly more to those who need immediate guidance and assistance.
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Don't forget the way you felt approaching yoga for the first time. Some novices might be holding on to certain insecurities; a lack of flexibility or strength. It'll be up to you to encourage them to push their boundaries and ease their fears.
Pave the way for your class to be a meditative, invigorating, grounding space. Your students will follow the example that you set in your yoga training classes.
Judge the Mood During Your Yoga Jobs
Occasionally, you might find your class is having difficulty progressing through the yoga styles you planned for your yoga workshop.
Other times, you might notice that you're working with experts who are handling your program with overt ease.
Another time, you might notice that the mood of the room is more or less energetic than the poses you've chosen demand.
Your yoga class is a unit; you can offer suggestions to your students to make each pose easier or more difficult, but everyone must be on the same page.
It's okay to adapt your class on the fly if you feel like what you've laid out isn't quite right for the group in front of you.
In fact, this concoction of adaptability, perceptiveness, and knowledge makes for the best yoga teachers.
The Yoga Lesson Sequence: Relaxation - Warm-Up - Asanas - Meditation
While the practice of yoga during a yoga lesson will differ somewhat depending on the discipline you're practicing, the overall yogic structure remains constant.
It doesn't matter if you're practicing Restorative yoga, Power yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Prenatal yoga, Kundalini, Iyengar, or Yoga Nidra, your session will open with a period of relaxation and breathing exercises (Pranayama).
This helps your students return to the moment; ask them to forget their day ahead or behind and challenge them to increase their awareness of their bodies as they relax.
When you feel the mood in the room soften, and every one is entirely focused on their own relaxation process, it's time to transition into the warm-up poses.
The yoga postures (Asanas) follow the warm-up poses, making up the main part of your yoga class. The postures you choose, the sequence in which they occur and the length of which you hold them will depend entirely on the yogic discipline you're teaching.
Every step of a yoga session is an invitation to meditate, but the end of the yoga class is time for meditation in earnest. Before you release your students to this meditational period, ask them to use the time to consolidate the feelings and progress they achieved during the session.
Congratulations, your first yoga session is in the books.
Setting Up Your Yoga Jobs At Home
Setting up a home studio for teaching yoga goes much the same as setting up a yoga studio.
The space you choose should be as open, airy and light (unless it's Hot Yoga!). It should encourage the body and mind to relax and focus on the task of the breathing techniques, relaxation, and poses.
If you need some ideas for creating a good atmosphere at home, look up some home yoga videos on Youtube for inspiration.
Depending on the space you have at your disposal, your yoga jobs at home might have to have fewer participants than your yoga jobs in a yoga studio.
You don't want to compromise the benefits of yoga practice by overbooking your space. People won't enjoy the experience and you'll risk losing clients.
Simply put, your home space needs to apply all the tenents of yoga philosophy; it should be conducive to relaxation, embodiment, and movement.
You now have all the information you need to prepare your first yoga lesson.
Commit yourself to your craft as a yoga teacher and help your students cultivate the serenity they need to face their daily trials in good spirit and humour.
Make sure to stay connected to your students and the yoga community as well. If you can do that, you'll have all the pieces for a successful career as a yoga instructor.
Choosing the Right Structure for Your Yoga Jobs
The first thing you need to ask yourself how you'd like to operate as a yoga instructor.
Do you prefer being a salaried employee or a freelancer? The answer to this question will determine how you go about seeking work.
Finding a job as a yoga instructor will afford you a level of security that freelancing can't match; you'll have a fixed income, you'll accrue holiday and sick leave, and your employer will make mandated contribution into your Superannuation account.
You'll also be personally insulated from liability, and you won't have to worry about insurance; that's a concern for your employer.
As a freelancer, however, you're in charge of everything; from your own schedule to your insurance to the prices you charge for your yoga sessions.
Being a freelancer affords you a level of flexibility and autonomy that you can't often find as an employee.
Maybe you want to teach a style of yoga that is more niche and less popular; it could be hard to find employment teaching that style, but as a freelance yoga teacher you can structure your lessons any way you wish.
Freelancing as a yoga instructor also releases the cap on your earning potential. Put in the work to develop a reputation as an excellent yoga service provider and reap the financial rewards of endless bookings!
It's okay if neither of these models is exactly right for you; there's nothing stopping you from trying both and even mixing and matching them.
For example; you might find part-time work teaching Bikram yoga in a yoga center while offering lessons in a less common discipline in yoga workshops at home (such as Jivamukti Yoga or Yin Yoga).
It can be tough to find employment as a salaried yoga instructor; many companies offer contract positions or book freelancers to their studios. This is one of the reasons becoming a freelance yoga teacher is becoming popular in Australia.
If you need help figuring out how much you should charge for your classes read our article.
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