YOGA FOCUS: Mindful instruction

Consciously focusing on the mindfulness of your teaching will enhance your ability to safely guide students through a class, says yoga instructor and educator Renée Benson.

hether you are new to teaching or a well-practised yogi guide, it is sometimes good to take some time out to reflect on your teaching and explore new ideas that might serve you on your journey.

The following tips can bring some mindfulness to your teaching and enhance your ability to safely guide students through a class.

1. Be present for your students

When you step into the studio, leave any distractions outside so that you can focus on what your students want and need.

2. Be mindful of the bodies you are working with

Create a safe space for participants to tell you about any injuries, conditions or pregnancies. I greet students as they enter the class to give them the opportunity to confide any injuries or concerns. During warm up, I invite my students to close their eyes and rub their hands together, then place one or both hands on any area of their body they are sending healing love to – this is a reminder for them to listen to their body and a note for me, so I can make any necessary modifications!

3. Offer modifications

Offer modifications for people that have special conditions, areas that are healing from injury or need a different option because it doesn’t feel right.

4. Establish the right atmosphere

Set the scene with the use of music, gentle lighting and scents (check with the venue first regarding their rules on this).

5. Heighten awareness

Invite students to become more aware of their breath and to feel something in each pose and transition – making any modifications to increase or decrease the sensation. Being present and checking in with their bodies will help reduce the chance of injury.

6. Offer options

Offer pose options to ensure each student feels safe and successful, but challenged too, without ego taking over. I like to use the term ‘more/less sensation’ rather than ‘easy and hard’ option, to remove competition and judgement from the equation.

7. Teach to everyone

Ensure your cueing is sufficient to appeal to the adult learning style – using a blend of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic cues, to match your physical demonstration.

8. Be yourself!

Bring your personality into the studio – no one wants a cookie cutter for a teacher, so find your authenticity and own it!

And here’s one extra, final tip: Practice, Patience, Pom-pom! Take time for both personal and teaching practice; exercise patience with both yourself and your students; and be your own cheerleader and surround yourself with people that will help you grow.

Renée Benson is a 200-RYT and Master Trainer for YogaFit. She is also a personal trainer, specialising in women’s health.