Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Things Yoga Teachers Should STOP Saying

Photo by Chris Chavez
As a yoga teacher, I'm always trying to make my language more clear. Sometimes that means giving more instruction, but most of the time it means learning when to shut my trap and allowing my students to feel and experience the poses on their own.

Here are a few of the things I know I need to strike from my yoga teaching vocabulary...

"Did you feel that?" Students nearly always just nod. Uh huh.. sure.. I feel that. (Now will you leave me alone?) If you're making an adjustment, just make it. Watch your student's body with your EYES for confirmation that they understood what you asked them to do. If you don't see a difference, they probably didn't feel it. Try saying it in a different way. If you did see them make a change, make sure they know it by giving them some feedback. Yes! There! That's it! 

"Does anybody have any requests for today's class? Anything you want to work on?" I've been doing this in my classes every class for months. I've noticed in classes that I attend, other teachers ask the same questions, too. The response is almost always a lot of blank stares, shrugging shoulders, and "anything's fine with me." I've come to this realization: My students expect ME to plan the sequence. That's why they're there. Sure, I want to leave the door open for any questions or requests, but when something comes up for one of them I trust them to come to me and ask.

"Now we're going to ...." and other words that don't mean anything. "OK. Now, we're going to place our hands down on the mat." "Then, you're going to step your right foot back." "Great, now you're going to bring your hands up toward the sky." My goal is to teach yoga class in the same way I'd write. That means cutting out all the unnecessary words. I've noticed myself saying "Now you're going to.." about 500 times in class, when it would be so much more effective to abolish the phrase entirely and just give the flippin' instruction. "Place your hands on the mat. Step your foot back. Reach your hands up toward the sky." My goal is for each and every word I say to have meaning when I'm teaching. No fillers. It's a work in progress, and practicing speaking in clear and concise language is as much a part of my practice these days as Triangle Pose.

Also... anything on this list should be abolished immediately.