Whether you are new to the teaching scene or just wanting to brush up on how you deliver, here are a few tips to improve your skillz that I’ve learnt over the past 2 years of teaching. However I definitely don’t claim to know all the answers!
1. Learn Your Students Names
How good does it feel when somebody how barely knows you remembers your name!? If you don’t currently see name remembering as important, I really urge that it is something in life to focus on getting good at.
There’s many ways you can improve on this – check out blogs like this one for methods.
2. Be YOU
This sounds so lame right? And at the beginning I thought it was so wishy washy too. However, then it started to make sense. I realised that my favourite yoga classes were the ones where the teachers were authentic and fun. They shared their emotions, stories, challenges.
Try it in small ways to begin with. I began with telling little story snippets from yoga classes I’d gone in different countries – mainly funny things that had happened. Now, I’m far more open with sharing my personality at the front of the class and rarely fear about saying the wrong thing/nobody laughing at my jokes. It is ALWAYS a work in progress though!
3. Keep Your Classes Relatively Similar
I did a little research with some of my friends who regularly attend yoga classes. I asked them, ‘how different do you like each class to be?’
The general feeling was that they preferred if classes were similar each time so they were comfortable, knew the jist of the poses coming up and could see themselves progressing. Therefore as a rule of thumb my classes contain 80% of the same content each time. However no two classes are the same – I vary this remaining 20% of content and I change the order of poses EVERY class to eliminate the risk of boredom.
If you love similarity though, there’s nothing wrong with this – look at Ashtanga style and how many dedicated Ashtangis there are out there!
4. Create A Presence
Project your voice, speak clearly and concisely. This can be a challenge if you are softly spoken but it is something that anyone can improve on.
If you’re not sure if you are loud enough, try teaching a few friends in a large space and ask them for genuine feedback on how loud you were and clear you were in explaining poses.
Personally I love to walk around the room for 30-50% of the class adjustments my students and for private 1:1 classes even more. Find what works for you in this way and get comfortable with making adjustments.
5. Ask For Feedback
Without constructive feedback it can be REALLY difficult to improve in any area of our life. For the first 10 classes I taught (these were to friends + friends of friends) I asked people to give me ‘ONE thing I could do better next time’ and really stressed to them how important it was to improve. They suggested things like not going over time, my positioning, saying when to breathe in and out, which muscles they were working….
When you hear this feedback sometimes it does jolt you but a month down the line, you’ll be so grateful to yourself that you asked, listened and improved.
6. Provide Quality
Deliver content that you know you can deliver well. Plan classes, especially early on in your teaching career!
This doesn’t mean over complicating your classes (see point above) but having a solid plan in place and knowing it well (not having to look at your notes during the class) is key for success!
You probably won’t have your own style straight away but you can develop it. Work out a basic rhythm that you really enjoy teaching and use this as your frame work.
For me, my secret sauce is the below:
- I’m never EVER late
- A short breathing exercise to begin the class
- A thorough warm up – including lots of stretching the shoulders and hamstrings
- Sun Salutation variations – I get quite creative here
- Standing sequence – typically just one of these
- Seated sequences – typically two of these
- Inversion (getting upside down)
- A few restorative postures (focus on hips)
- I ALWAYS finish on time, exactly
Happy teaching and please let me know how you get on!!