the_missing_ingrediantTeachers, would you enjoy your own yoga class if you were a student on the mat following your instructions and queues?

As a yoga teacher it is easy to create a verbal routine which we follow class after class, day in and day out. Just like an office worker who has the routine of rushing out the house, barely awake, slamming the office door open with a coffee in one hand, briefcase in the other, switching on the computer, staring blankly into space as it loads up, taking a big gulp of the now luke warm coffee, and the day begins.

How often have you spaced out during a class for a moment and came back with a sense of urgency, checking the time to see how much time is left before heading across town for the next session? I am sure we have all had times and days similar to this. A majority of our students wouldn’t notice and I am sure you taught a great class! But as you know what really goes on in your head, would you like to be on the mat when you are teaching?

If what we think creates our reality, surely our thought waves also contribute to the quality of the class we teach. The missing ingredient is staying present. How do we stay present when we are saying “inhale” and “exhale” for the hundredth time that day and it is not even lunchtime yet!

Here are five helpful tips that I have used to stay grounded and present when teaching.

1. Moving and breathing as one
Move and breathe with your students as you are teaching the class (even just a little). This way you are also part of the embodied experience and your mind cannot be distracted as much, which helps you focus on the present moment. When we move and breathe as one we create a sense of community in the space and it bridges the gap between teacher and student.

2. Scanning the room
Scan across the room and notice if there is a lost looking yogi hiding in the back corner. Change your position from the front of the room to the centre or even back of the room so everyone can know what it feels like to be ‘in the front’ row. We all know what it is like when starting out and trying to figure out the alignment of warrior two but got lost after the teacher told us to step the right foot forward and by the time we are finished copying the person in front everyone else is back in downward facing dog.

3. Creativity

Get creative with your dialogue. Try and think up a new way to guide your students into or out of a pose or even share with your students which muscle groups are actively engaging and what kind of gaze the eyes have during the next five – ten breaths. Have a look on youtube and see how others are giving instructions and guidance then try it out for yourself.

4. Expand your vocab 

Learn a new Sanskrit name and its meaning once a week! Then use it in class and while you are at it, why not share the story of its roots and where it came from. This way you are not only educating your students but you are challenging yourself at the same time. There is a saying – If you want to master something, teach it!

5. Be your own inspiration
Try something new, move outside of your comfort zone, try a new style of yoga, take a hooping class and continue your own self-development. See if you can merge your love of poetry and yoga or your passion for aromatherapy and meditation. Be brave and see what you enjoy in your self-practice and try it out on your students. It is always nice to honour the roots of any teachings so if you do share something you found online, make sure you also pass on who inspired you.

Good luck with finding the sugar and spice in your teachings and if you have any other ideas that contribute to the missing ingredient I would love to hear what they are!

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