One of my favorite things about teaching yoga is that each time you teach a group yoga class, you have the opportunity of creating a unique experience for your students.
Teaching is both an art and a science and learning to customize your teaching is a skill that will serve you well. Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Ask people what they are hoping to get out of class that day.
This is something you can do by taking the time to stop by each student’s mat and checking in with them before class or talking to them as they come through the door.
As we know as teachers, a student’s body and nervous system change from day to day and practice to practice. This gives you the chance to meet your students’ specific needs that day. Creating a custom experience takes practice; it requires thoughtful sequencing and the ability to think and teach on the fly.
Jot down some notes if you need to so you can be sure you remember what you are hearing the students say they need and want.
2. Make the practice fit the students.
Yoga is a beautiful practice and sometimes the way we think about it can be very rigid. Instead of being super structured in how you teach, look at the bodies that are on the mats in front of you that day and see what is happening.
Are there elevated shoulders, tight necks, tight hips, stressed and tired students? If so, create your plan of action for that class around those needs. Change your plan to create the most positive impact possible for the students who showed up to practice.
3. Know the systemic effects of pranayama and relaxation techniques.
Use pranayama and relaxation techniques as tools to offer your students the most benefit you can in the time you have with them. If you have used step one above and know what is going on with people, then you will have a good idea on what will help them leave class feeling the benefits from the amazing tools yoga has.
Do they need cooling and relaxing work, heating and invigorating work, a combination of the two? Take a moment before class begins to note how you should structure the practice around these needs.
These are some of the ways that I quickly adapt my teaching on the fly to the needs of the students who come to class. Students really respond well to yoga classes that can address their specific needs. This shows the teacher has the skill level to be able to customize a class on the spot, and more importantly—a deeper level of care about the students’ well being.
How do you tailor your teaching style to your students in a group class? Share your thoughts below!