Yoga has continued to increase in popularity over the last few years in the fitness community, and it shows no signs of dying down as a fitness trend anytime soon. If you’re a yoga instructor or working to become one, there’s a good chance you’ll teach some type of beginner yoga class at some point in your career. These classes can be very rewarding to teach, but they also come with their own unique sets of challenges, as many beginning students will get easily discouraged. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take as a yoga instructor to help your newbies succeed on the mat.
Have Students Keep a Practice Journal
Consider having your beginning students keep a practice journal; you can give them time to fill it out during your classes or ask them to fill it out at home. Either way, a practice journal can be extremely helpful for those new to yoga, as it allows beginners to make notes of the poses they may be having trouble with as those challenges are presented to them. You may even consider collecting yoga journals from your class once a week so you can review notes and provide individual assistance to students who are struggling with certain poses. Or, if you find that multiple students are struggling with the same pose, perhaps you could dedicate more time to it in your next class.
Give Students Poses to Practice at Home
There’s nothing wrong with giving your students a little bit of homework. During class, make note of students who are having difficulty with specific poses, and ask them to put in some additional practice of these poses at home. Sometimes, more practice is all a student needs to master a pose, which will allow him or her to better keep up with future lessons and make sure your students stay on-track.
Make Sure Students Have the Right Gear
Most yoga newbies don’t understand that there can be major differences in quality from one yoga mat to the next. All too often, beginners at yoga will buy whatever yoga mat they can find on sale or the first mat they see in their favorite color. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge can result to greater challenges when it comes to achieving certain yoga poses. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that your students have a “sticky” yoga mat, which will make it easier for them to achieve poses that require putting a lot of weight on the hands, arms, or both.
For example, the basic yoga pose of downward facing dog is a lot easier on a sticky mat than on a traditional mat. Have your students practice a couple of poses on a sticky mat so they can see the difference for themselves. More than likely, they’ll be running out to buy one after class.
Teach Students Yoga Breathing Exercises
All too often, yoga instructors tend to assume that beginners know the basic breathing exercises and poses, but this is not usually the case. It’s generally recommended that instructors teaching a beginning yoga class dedicate a good portion of the first class to teaching some of the most common yoga breathing techniques, such as breathing in through the mouth and breathing out through alternating nostrils. This will help give your students a solid basis for the rest of the class.
Recommend Yoga Books, DVDs, and Apps
Sometimes, you’ll have students who simply need a little more instruction than what you can provide in the limited time of your course. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have some yoga books, DVDs, or even apps that you can recommend to your students. These can help beginners learn to master poses in the comfort of their own home so that they’re better prepared and ready to learn for your next class. You may even consider buying a copy of a quality yoga book and allowing your students to borrow it as needed.
Teaching a beginning yoga class can be a fun experience, but it’s important that you prepare for some of the challenges. Be sure to keep these tips in mind so that you and your new students can enjoy greater overall success!
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