Are you ready to teach?
As yoga teachers, we are often running from class to class. Or, if teaching at home, we are often managing the responsibilities of home and family up until the moment we turn on our webcam to begin the class. It can be quite difficult to immediately become focused and connected to your students and the content you are delivering. It is important and immensely helpful to have a pre-class ritual that ensures you are physically, emotionally, and intellectually ready to teach with compassion and clarity. Here’s my process in preparation of holding space for myself and others. It can be done quickly or as part of an extended practice, but I believe it must happen.
Sit or lie down in quiet and stillness.
Do you need to ground or uplift?
What is your energy level? What is your mood? What are you physically capable of delivering to your students today? If you feel a bit anxious or frenetic, what process can you pull from your yoga tool kit to feel more grounded? For example, this might be a forward fold of some sort.
If you are feeling a bit low, what process can you use to get your energy uplifted? For example, this might be a sun salutation or rolling like a ball.
Practise with your chosen tool!
Are you connected to your breath?
The use of your voice, the pacing of your class, and the steadiness of your nervous system are all dependent on a balanced and rich breath. Take a moment to feel and experience your breath. Balance it out with a practice as simple as evening out the duration of inhale to exhale.
Why do you teach yoga?
It is easy to get stuck in the routine of your class schedule and responsibilities and lose sight of your passion for yoga and teaching. When this happens, your class will just feel like any other job. Remind yourself why you want to offer these practices to others and what it means to you. Distil it into a single declarative sentence and repeat it to yourself now and often.
You are not just teaching postures, you are teaching people. So, take a moment to get ready to be hold space for them.
Who are your students?
Run through your mind the names of your students. Visualise their faces. Recall their bodies, injuries, and practice histories. Who is a mother? Who is a teacher? Who is a nurse? Where do they live? What have they told you about themselves? What moments have you shared together?
What do they need?
Do they sit at a desk all day? Are they athletes? Are they caregivers or frontline workers? What aspects of their lived experiences can inform what you will teach them? What do their bodies need? What do their hearts need? What type of space do you need to create for them so that they can go through a process of embodiment and liberation from suffering?
Why do they practise yoga?
Why do these students come to your class? Why have they signed up for your course or beginners series? They may have told you in detail, but have you listened? What has made them come today and how does that align with what you are offering?
I hope you have a class plan! If you don’t, these next questions will get you as prepared as you can be to teach a coherent lesson. If you do have a plan, it will make sure you stay focused on what is most important in its delivery.
What are you teaching physically?
What pose, poses, or pose groups are the focus of your teaching today? What physical actions or regions of heightened awareness will help your students execute and embody these postures? You cannot teach everything about the whole body every time in every class, so know what you are focusing on.
What are you teaching emotionally?
What is to be learned from the experience of today’s postures? What is the life lesson? Is it connected to yoga philosophy or another source of inspiration? If you’re unsure, think about your experience in practising these postures and teach from that memory.
What is your most important offering?
If your students remembered one lesson from today’s class, what would you hope it to be?