Sometimes I’ve attended other yoga classes where I am the client (this includes before I became an instructor) and felt like the class was the same old same old, blaw, blaw, blaw… Essentially, I could predict what would happen next and kind of didn’t need the instructor.
Have you ever felt that way about someone’s class? I have and it is definately a fate that I myself as an instructor never want a participant(s) to feel about me and my classes. Shoot, I’ve even been told this by various participants about an instructor (not just in yoga either) and again this has occurred way before I became one as well as since I’ve become one. So with that being said, I offer some ideas towards keeping it fresh…
First of all, I now know that as an instructor that many yoga schools have a class format or style. For instance, I am YogaFit trained and can only really elaborate for this perspective. Overall, YogaFit’s basic class format is the following (in case you ever wondered):
Mountain I (Limbering and Warm Up exercise flows)
Valley I (Sun Salutations)
Mountain II (Warrior And Other Standing Postures)
Valley II (Balancing Work)
Mountain III (Mat work & Final Relaxation)
It is a pretty recognizable format/style…but to learn more I’m going to point you towards seeking their Level I training which information can be found on their website: http://www.yogafit.com.
Now that I pointed out that I’m YogaFit trained, I do want to say that no matter the school you have been influenced from, there is no reason to stay stuck in a rut teaching the same old, same old! You’ll get bored and your students eventually do as well and that is the last thing we want to happen.
There are many ways in which you can still stay true to your school’s format but make your class feel fresh and new as you gain some inspiration. I offer the following suggestions:
First, attend as many yoga classes as possible and yes, I encourage classes from different schools. By doing this, you’ll experience new ways to explain a pose and that in itself may open doors of understanding with some of your clients. Who can’t use some different stories and/or examples? Also, some school’s have different interpretations of a pose. You’ll get exposure to this alternative way to pursue a pose. Recently, another instructor led “Chair” transitioning into “Eagle.” I personally always went from “Mountain” to “Eagle.” I like “Chair” to “Eagle.” Also, some schools have another interpretation of a pose. For instance, have you seen the different versions of “Camel” pose that are out there? By doing this, you can then assess as to whether or not this is a suitable approach/intrepretation for your clients/classes. I’ll tell you that one particular version of “Camel” that looks like a painful “Wheel” is definitely not suitable for my clients! Along, the same lines, some schools will call a pose (same pose) by another name. For instance, in YogaFit, we have a pose called “Lizard” and I’ve seen this pose called “Hurdler” or runner’s lunge in another school. Knowing the different names for the “same” pose is important because if you are like me you’ll ask your clients for pose requests and you never know what pose they might call out so it is best to know the other names out there verses saying that you don’t know that pose. And finally, some schools have poses that your school doesn’t have. For instance, YogaFit currently doesn’t have the “Rabbit” and “Puppy” poses in their directory. However, I’ve recently discovered that they are great additions to my pose inventory.
Second, consider ways in which you can add an element of fun to your class. Some of my suggestions are offering a partner pose, a game, and a pose breakdown.
As far as a partner pose is concerned, there are all sorts of poses that you can consider. I’ll share a bound version of “Half Moon.” Have one person go into the pose while the other person is the poser’s support/wall. Once the pose is established, play with a bind (have a strap handy). The poser’s lifted leg bends back towards the wall person (attach strap to the foot if necessary) and then the poser’s arm reaches around the wall person’s back. Next, the poser will bind the hand and foot (with/without strap) around the wall person (Wall person may have to help with the bind and/or strap).
As far as a game is concerned, I offer one for “Crow.” I call it “Pecking Crow” and it is very simple game to share with your classes. To pursue, have a block handy. First, position the block so it is as tall as possible and place just in front of you. Prepare to enter into “Crow” and lightly tap the block with your forehead. Next, position the block on it’s side and peck it (with forehead). And finally, turn the block on the flat side so it is lowest in height, and peck it. By exploring “Pecking Crow,” a client gains control of crow and add an element of movement. Next thing you know, your clients are transitioning from “Crow” to “Crocodile.”
For pose breakdowns, stick to one pose that you’ll highlight on during the class. Discuss all the different names out there for the pose and include the Sanskrit name as well. Then proceed to break down the pose part by part. Maybe have a student volunteer. Show all the different options out there for the pose so students can pick the version that is right for them. Go around class and offer slight adjustments as necessary.
When I do pose breakdowns, I always get great feedback from my clients. Many of them don’t know whether they are pursuing to pose correctly or not unless it is brought to their attention. They also know that maybe the one version of the pose that the class tends to do isn’t the one they have to do. I’ve also have learned that a pose breakdown makes the class very interactive with the student’s often asking questions and that might be the best part of all!
Hopefully, this will inspire my fellow instructors out there. I’d love to hear some of your ideas as to how you make/keep your classes fresh. (Please include what school you are trained in).