As teachers we are responsible for creating a safe and supportive environment for all students including those with injuries, depression, age related needs, and conditions such as pregnancy.
We will look at practical approaches to working with students who indicate a need for special accommodation in classes or in one-one sessions.
We can start with looking and appreciating every student as the whole person he or she is, offering tools and techniques for using various challenging conditions to heal, feel better, and move into a deeper quality of integration.
People first come to yoga with a variety of conditions and motivations. Most new yoga students have previously participated in some form of group exercise class and have some body intelligence. But very few have experienced a physical practice in which they are invited to move and explore in the specific ways asked of them in Yoga; consciously connecting the breath-body-mind amid increasingly complex and challenging positioning of the body. They may find themselves diving into a flowing class surrounded by unfamiliar words, techniques, and challenges. Add a spiritual dimension, chanting, and many new students put up such defences that complicate their experience.
Teaching new students is an opportunity to deepen our own practice of ‘beginners mind’ and to encourage it among others in class. In this mindset we open ourselves to whatever we are doing as if it is the first time. The idea is to soften the preconditioned mindset in order to feel what is happening more freshly and free of preconceptions. When we do this as a teachers, it allows us to have a more empathetic understanding of new students experiences, thereby making it easier to give them guidance and the support it takes for them to do the most they can. This is actually far more challenging than teaching highly complex asanas to advanced students, so, inevitably, teaching new students deepens your skill as a teacher.
It is important to welcome all new students, make them feel comfortable and communicate that in yoga we are interested in how we go, not how far we go; that it is the process of consciously connecting the breath, body and mind, while exploring the development of strength, flexibility and balance as part of a long-term sustainable practice of integration. Emphasise the importance of steadiness and ease, encourage them to rest any time they need and encourage the use of props. If possible group new students close to one another so you can more easily give demonstrations and more specific guidance to them while remaining attentive to the larger class. Also try to position them behind any experienced students whom you can count on to stay with the basic asana, rather than behind those who may like to go off and do their own fancy variations, so not to confuse the new student and push them beyond safe practice.
We can talk to new students after the class to find out how they felt and maybe offer information or resources that could be helpful for them.
200HR TEACHER TRAINING