As yoga teachers, we are committed to the well-being of our students. After all, our end result is to help people reduce their suffering. We even commit to ongoing and ongoing training to help deliver a more skillful service. However, we often ignore how easy it is to hurt ourselves, or to be too stressed and unfounded, when we teach. No, our work is not too dirty and there are many other vocations that involve much more risk. But teaching yoga presents many physical and emotional challenges. Here are some ways to stay healthy, safe, and sound while teaching.
Tips for teaching yoga: how to stay on the ground, safe and healthy
Demonstrating postures in class seems safe, easy, and effective. You simply put yourself in a balance of arms, back bends or turns to visually express what you are teaching. The problem is that you’re cold, you’re a little adrenaline-fueled, and you’re focused on the outward appearance of the posture, and you’re probably always doing your demonstrations on the same side. Of course, there is a time and a place for demonstrations, but the list of injuries that occur from seemingly simple and innocuous moments like these is terribly long. So if you need a demonstration, remember not to take advantage. Check if you notice that you are trying to impress your students. And, when appropriate, have one of your students demonstrate, as he or she is ready for the posture you are teaching.
Be careful when making adjustments
When I teach workouts, I ask students to raise their hand if they have been injured while receiving a fit. Unfortunately, 35-40% of the room usually raises their hand. If I asked a room full of teachers how many of them were injured while giving an adjustment, I’m willing to guess that the percentage would be similar. Making adjustments can compromise your body if you are not focused on your own alignment and sensations. You can also make things worse if you already have an injury to your knee, lower back, or shoulder and ignore them while teaching. Making good adjustments is good, but give yourself permission to prioritize your safety and comfort in the process. If you’re too tired or have an injury, it may be in everyone’s best interest to take the day off to make yoga adjustments.
See also Verbal cues for yoga postures: Improve your communication immediately
Remember to breathe
Each time you tell your students to breathe, pause and breathe yourself. Doing so will help you stay grounded, relaxed, and focused while teaching. Staying on the ground, relaxed and focused will make your classes even better and help you avoid fatigue and exhaustion.
Trust the power of practice
Yoga teachers (including myself) tend to be very critical of themselves. When we are too critical or lack confidence in our ability to teach, we begin to put too much effort into it. We forget that the yoga class is NOT all about the teacher. It is the transcendent and timeless experience of doing the practice. To stay grounded, relaxed, and comfortable as a teacher, you need to be confident that the practice is inherently transformative and that you are simply facilitating your students ’experience. You will be happier and healthier if you let the student practice do most of the work.
Be kind to yourself
Teaching yoga can be an emotional roller coaster and will certainly expose aspects of your personality and ego that other aspects of the practice do not. Consider your inner narrative and practice goodness with yourself. Doing so will reduce stress and help you overcome the challenges that arise
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