It’s Hannah from Kashi Atlanta’s Teacher Training. I am living in the metro-DC area now and have embarked on a journey to teach yoga at several different studios, gyms and homes here. One of the things I am wondering about with my current classes is how to keep an all-levels class engaged and moving even when you need to take special time out to instruct one person in the class who is struggling. When I make adjustments to students during the class to prevent injury, it can take a significant amount of time and I notice other students DYING as they are holding in the pose while I adjust. Any tips?
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This is a question I get over and over and it is a great question. You are right on track in taking care of the person that needs you the most. What I will say is not to give this student too much information, only try to adjust 1 or 2 things at a time. Always start with the foundation and this usually makes a big difference. For instance in any of the warrior poses and triangle, most beginner usually are too narrow. Have them widen their stance and a lot will fall in place.
Take time to teach what you really want your students to do and not always just go from one pose to the next. Use a demo occasionally when needed and break down the pose using one or two actions. Everyone will learn even the more practiced students will appreciate it.
Teach actions that they can incorporate into every pose like thighs back, shoulders back, side body long, legs engaged, feet parallel. Teach the whole class what it looks like to get their inner body bright and their shoulder blades on the back or proper hand placement in downward facing dog. If you teach these things a couple of times and break it down, they will know what you really want them to do.
Teaching by contrast is a beautiful way to have your students experience optimal alignment. Show them, it is not this- as you do the misalignment; it is this-and do it in optimal alignment.
I often tell a new student to watch the experienced student so she will have a visual and I do rearrange my students so the ones with a more regular practice are bookends and front rowers thus the newer students have a visual and can be supported more fully by the energy of those around them.
Modifications are also encouraged of course but I find that many people that need modifications do not take you up on it. So instead, try teaching in stages, This is stage 1 is and this is stage 2.
Another idea is to teach a fundamental series or a workshop or add a beginners class when possible.
Good luck and happy teaching.