Many private yoga teachers teach a blend of one-on-one sessions and group led offerings (group classes, workshops, and special events). Teaching small or large groups is a skill-set, just like that of being a private yoga teacher.
The focus a private yoga teacher can have in a group yoga setting can still be intentional and mindful of the independent needs of the person in regards to individual sequencing, and with the potential outcome of working with them one-on-one.
Sequencing to the individual is possible in a group yoga setting. It's not as impactful as one-on-one sessions, and it's certainly not easy to address the needs of many at once. You can't customize a group lesson to please everyone, but you can begin to develop skills of teaching many at once.
Here's three ways to give individual sequencing, even in a group.
1. Encourage Self-Practitioners
The ultimate goal of a yoga teacher should be to lead our clients and students to a personal practice that they can maintain on their own, but with our assistance. Most of us will continue to seek a teacher, but encouraging your students to be self-practitioners is a gift you can give freely and consciously.
One of the most common complaints I hear from yoga teachers is that other yoga teachers come to their group classes and do whatever the hell they want. I think there are a few reasons for this (let's agree ego can be one, but we won't talk about that reason). The first being wanting to experience various skilled teachers, and the second being a desire for personal practice within a highly energetic group setting.
Imagine if you could encourage self-practice so that yogis began to understand sequencing, their body's needs, and were able to use this information to determine the intention behind what they were being offered in a group setting and if they want to receive it at that time.
I don't view this as anarchy, I see it as personal responsibility with a serving of respect towards the teacher holding the space.
Unfortunately, most group-led settings don't encourage this and as a result most yogis don't understand sequencing, their choices, or their body's needs so they don't make sound adjustments that align with our intentions for the collective class theme and play into your expertise.
2. Teach Modifications, Harmonics, and Variations
I have a modification story — I think a lot of us do. I subbed for a yoga class at my university and offered a student in Revolved Triangle a block. Her response was that she "doesn't do" blocks. Teaching students how to be more advanced practitioners by including props, modifications, harmonics of poses, and customized variations and versions of asanas makes the yoga world a better place.
Imagine a group class where you call for a reclined hip stretch and students (due to your previous and on-going cues and instructions) are able to find a variation that suits their post-surgery body, their injury, their advanced range of motion… the examples go on.
3. Do It Differently
Readying students to be private yoga clients may require you to do group classes differently. If the nature of your one-on-one work addresses ailments, situations, or acute problems, it may not be as important to create an environment for self-practitioners, but for many of us it does matter.
Group-led classes and series that encourage self-practitioners may contain more workshopping, dialogue, and exploration than other group classes.
Restructuring group classes with good reason may take getting used to for students who are seasoned practitioners, but lead with your why and the students that align with be attracted to your mission.