Be a Better Yoga Teacher

Last week, near the end of Leslie’s Yoga Anatomy class, Amy Matthews dropped by to check in. We were right in the middle of a Q&A about a super-sensitive client, and how to work with someone who is very anxious and/or out-of-touch with their body. Amy and Leslie ended up having a really interesting discussion on how to work with individuals. Here are their tips:

  1. First of all, determine to what extent a client is able to even notice changes or pick up signals inside their own body. If they’re unable to feel or articulate inner sensations, help them tune in first. Suggest words like hard, soft, hot, cold, light, heavy that they might be feeling.
  2. Contrast the new pattern you’re teaching them with their old pattern(s), going back and forth until they notice the difference.
  3. Don’t assume that “opening up” is always better this is a current trend in our culture. Sometimes there are reasons to stay bottled up. Meet them where they want to meet.
  4. If they are really edgy, try restorative poses where it’s just them and gravity, no “adjustments” or corrections.
  5. Change how they’re doing what they’re already doing, instead of trying to change what they’re doing. It’s less stress and “work” for them.
  6. Similarly, instead of “yes, but…” try saying “yes, and…” Reinforce and adapt their own practice, whatever it might be.
  7. Use vocabulary they are accustomed to.
  8. Learn how to transmit information in a way that the individual can grasp it. This is the difference between an instructor and a teacher. If you can’t communicate, you’re not the right teacher for them.