Yoga Instructors: Transform your Class!
Yoga is a much loved workout because of its spiritual benefits, the only workout that specifically aims to relax students, while aligning bodies, minds & souls. Students attending classes are coming back again and again for the most beneficial workout, leaving them with a sense of overall health and well-being, as they go about their busy lives. The advantages to the yogi society are far-reaching, and can assist students in a variety of areas.
If you are an instructor, you have a very important job. Your yoga classes allow personal gains for students who may be healing during your time together. Don’t take for granted what you do.
Students attending your classes may be dealing with personal issues or even, milder, everyday stressors, despite anyone’s knowledge; In fact, they might not even be aware of it themselves. Anxiety and stress are prevalent in today’s world, and it is important that we find things to help us relieve tension, so that we can avoid life interference and feel our best. A yoga instructor can make a lasting, positive change. You will help your students restore calm.
The movements in a yoga class, although most often performed at a low-intensity level, work wonders for improving circulation. Improved circulation not only helps students to leave the room feeling refreshed and revived, it can also improve their skin, contributing to an overall healthy glow. Along with improved circulation comes a more colorful complexion and a livelier appearance. Yoga instructors help their students look better – They give health makeovers!
Balance is achieved in a yoga class in more ways than one – Balanced Moves, Balanced Lives, Balanced Functioning. Students attending your classes on a regular basis will start to notice a change in their bodies, not only in its appearance, but also in the way it feels. Granted, as an instructor, you easily notice these things in yourself; however the feeling your students get after a really good class, results from a physical change that’s happening on the inside. Physical balance is achieved when everything inside of your body is working in harmony.
“Balance Me Beautiful!”
Options for yoga are endless, and there are a range of tastes and preferences when it comes to class instruction. Choices for students range from free classes, led by talented instructors who share their videos on the web (i.e. YouTube), to the most elaborate classes that you have to go out in search of. High end studios can charge over $2000 for yearly memberships. Extra special perks with the high end establishments include fee breaks, in case of unexpected (i.e. illness) or expected (i.e. pregnancy) absences from the studio. This is a great selling feature that allows you to put your membership on hold for time spent away, and allows well-respected guests to return, and carry forward the remaining time, upon their return. Your involvement in the practice can be as well-refined as some of the elaborate poses that you perform.
An extravagant yoga studio in Munich – MahaShaki Yoga – is known to include added extras to enhance guest experiences. You will find thoughtful things like: candlelit yoga classes; a modernly-decorated, common lounge for socializing; online classes from instructors, for home workouts, direct from the company website (in case you miss a day) and an in studio/online yoga store, where you can find everything you need, so you never have to leave! Options like these can help you personalize your experience, and become wholeheartedly invested in a healthy lifestyle.
Every Instructor should treat themselves from time to time – it’s just good practice. The art of restoring balance and calm should serve you, just as well as you serve your students. You take care of everyone else’s well-being, so it’s only natural that you are taking care of yours too.
‘Gifts for Me’ can range from low priced items to more incredible splurges, and you should allow yourself to have the best of both worlds. Choose wisely, and do what you can afford, when you have the opportunities for perks. Think of these as instructor bonuses or incentives – a reward for achieving mastery of a pose or accomplishing your goals. It’s good to create a wait-list so you don’t run out of new and innovative ideas to keep you inspired with your work, and also, so you don’t go overboard and buy everything all at once.
Little gifts or treats, after your hard work-week or day ends, can be as simple as accessorizing your yoga wardrobe. We think a small investment, like a great headband, to keep your hair away from your face during classes is a must have. It serves double duty for pulling hair back, while washing your face in the locker room, directly after your workout session. P.S. A quality facial lotion is another great thing to treat yourself to – Make it special, and use it only at the gym. This will help you find motivation for classes, and adds a little something-something to every class you teach – Just for You.
More elaborate rewards for your hard work that fit right into your lifestyle are re-energizing vacations at 5-Star Resorts, that include yoga classes in beautiful, naturalistic settings. Relax and be guided by an instructor, instead of having to use your voice and present ideas. It’s all about you this time; It really is. You can even learn some new practices while you’re at it, like Asian techniques, such as Thai-Chi. Explore new horizons, try something new, and challenge your body in new ways. You can bring some of your newly acquired moves, back into your regular routine, and teach your students a variation on your techniques. Venture out of your comfort zone, and see how it makes you feel – just don’t think too hard. Rest, Relax and Recharge – You’ve earned it.
Upon your Return
Improve your classes for your students; Ask the audience, and give them what they want. A spiritually rooted workout, like yoga, should be all about unison and harmony. Decide on things together as an entire group, rather than merely telling people what to do. Students are coming to your classes because of the way it makes them feel.
- Do you know how your students are feeling?
- Do you know what your students need?
Ask them – You might be surprised. Structure your classes accordingly, and you may see your enrollment numbers increasing.
Change it up
You should change your workouts about every 3 weeks, to prevent boredom and keep you, as well as your students, inspired. This also challenges your body, and your students will notice results. Variety in your routines is good, even if you are offering the same poses for a set time frame, each class can present moves in a different order, or you can add enhancements to make the moves more challenging. As the three weeks progress, students will become stronger, and your classes should reflect this. At the end of the three weeks, ask them again:
“What do you guys want to work on next?”
Know your students, listen to them, and work their suggestions into your new routine. They’ll take notice. This can help you expand your audience, as well, as it sets you apart from other instructors who might not be paying as much attention as you are. Here is an easy way to add in something new, and it’s sure to benefit all of your students.
Relaxation exercises are a good idea to include at the end of each class, to completely relax your yogis, body and soul. Turn off the music, turn down the lights, and contribute a peaceful moment, separate from the usual cool-down, either lying down or seated, whichever is most comfortable for you. As for the students, they should be sprawled out on the floor, indulging in the end of the class – No Sitting. While you direct the class through the relaxation process, they will be deeply releasing tension from each and every muscle (start small and work through all body parts). If you want to enhance the experience, you can add in a technique to spiritually cleanse the souls in the room. Verbal directions should look something like this:
- Lying on your backs, tighten each muscle for a count of 10 seconds and then release it.
- Listen for my cues
- Clench your fists, tighten all of the muscles in your fingers, squeeze your hands tightly
- Hold for a count of 10
- (After the elapsed time) – Now release them
- Feel no tension remaining in your hands
- Completely relax your hands
- Focus on your breath.
- Take a deep breath in
- Release it – breathe out
- Try to breathe the positive energy in the room into your soul
- Envision the energy as a light entering your body
- Breathe in deeply
- (After an elapsed time) – Release your breath
- Envision the negative energy leaving your body
- Your body is filling up with light
Think of other, engaging, ideas for making changes, in accordance with your students’ feedback, levels of ability and goals within the class. Find something that works best for most, and then adjust your routines based on your groups of students – every class is different. Another way to add variety and spark interest in what you’re doing is to incorporate Themes into your teaching.
Here is a list of 7 Interesting Ways to Theme a Yoga Class
- Personalize It
Making a personal connection with your students will help them to relate to you as instructor, and can help to establish a friendly environment within the class. Talk about your experiences with yoga, and show them a routine that you used to get through a stressful time. If that’s not your thing, show them a routine that you like to use for a restful sleep. Whatever you love about yoga, your students will love about you – Keep it personal.
- Teach a Progressive Series
Invite students into a series that you will teach over a number of classes, with each lesson leading into the next. Set a challenge or goal for students to help them build confidence, and keep them coming back for more. For example, learn new poses together! Your students will be coming back, week after week, to master all of the poses in your series.
- Themes for Special Occasions
Find things to structure your classes around and then celebrate them. It could be anything – Happy Tree Day! Choose music to suit the occasion too. For example if you have a student who announces an Engagement in class, devote a class specifically to them. Complete a series of moves set to romantic music, or make a compilation of everyone’s favorite wedding songs. Use the class to develop a sense of community and send good energy and karma, to provide the couple with well wishes for their future. This idea is also good if somebody announces a pregnancy in your class – celebrate as a supportive group, and modify your classes or add in extras. Don’t forget the soundtrack.
- Address Issues to Help Students
Include classes as solutions to students’ problems. They can tell you what they need to work on in private (if needed), and you can deliver your classes to all of your students, in public – just be sure to maintain confidentiality, so you can establish an environment of trust. For example, “One of our students has requested some moves to reduce stress.” Themes are many; there’s yoga for anxiety, yoga for (good) mood, yoga for back pain, etc.
- Color Themes
Just the thought of bright colors, and we’re happy already! Have your students wear bright colors to class to change the mood and feeling in the room. Think, bright colors for re-energizing, dark colors for calm, white for enlightenment or spirituality. Have the entire class come dressed in a color choice – This will also grab the attention of passers-by, who might be encouraged to check out an upcoming class. To start, you can surprise your students, by rolling out brightly colored yoga mats. See how it goes, and then integrate the clothing idea, afterwards.
- Darkness Yoga
Yoga in complete darkness, and a spotlight on the instructor (this is a good place to use candlelight), can change the look and feel of the entire class. Add in an element of fun, by using glow-sticks to represent the aura of each yogi.
- Dress Down Yoga
Welcome newcomers who haven’t tried out your classes before, and offer a come as you are class. Encourage dressing down – You don’t need to wear leggings or a full, fitted body suit to do yoga. Joggers and tanks, or sweats and tees are fine too. Prana, Sutra Pants are a casual look for guys, that are easy to move around in, and are cool for performing physical activities. This idea can be a huge seller, especially for men, who may be less inclined to get attired up in a leotard. Let them know that they don’t have to have a complete yoga wardrobe, in order to attend your classes. Easy, ‘comfy-clothes’ days are more welcoming and less intimidating for newbies.
Think about your own, unique ways to continuously add in ideas and improve on what works in your classes. Here are some hints to enhance your classes, and add value for your students. This isn’t your ordinary yoga class. If you are working hard on developing new ideas, it will show in your work.
Offer little treats at the start of the class. For students who arrive early, greet them with water, complimentary yoga blankets or towels, anything to make it a more member-focused service that keeps your yoga-guests feeling good about your class. You can even select a volunteer to help you make sure everyone is taken care of, while you prepare for the yoga session, or you can have the amenities prearranged, so your students can help themselves. You want them to feel appreciated.
Think about things to do after class. Social engagements can serve as ice-breakers and help to instill confidence in your students – create familiarity, so you don’t have a studio full of strangers. Schedule in some events with your students, that take place after the class. Go for drinks at a local juice bar, have a healthy dinner or plan an event to celebrate your students. Socializing is a great way to build lasting relationships, so that you can establish a regular group of students. Retain members and develop in your yoga practice, together, as a unified class.
And finally, end every class on a positive note. Ask your students for feedback, and foster an environment of positive support. Encourage students to ask questions openly, or to approach you after the class with more private matters. No matter what, be sure to reconnect with everyone in the room, before you leave. A nice way to end each session is by coming back to a seated position. In prayer position, bow your heads in unison, and be thankful for the class and the company.