Teaching Hatha Yoga: Assisting, Demonstrating, and Verbally Cueing

Paul Jerard

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Some Yoga instructors feel that one method for teaching Yoga is better than the rest; but which one is it? If a Yoga teacher does not give a physical assist, is that wrong? If a Yoga instructor does not demonstrate poses, how can students who learn visually make progress? What about the Yoga instructor who makes an assist before verbally cueing?

There are many methods for teaching Yoga, but students either learn by seeing, feeling, hearing, or a combination of senses. With this in mind, there is no right or wrong method, but Yoga teachers should be aware that some students may have a dominant sense when it comes to learning. This is why teaching methods for Yoga should be integrated.

There will always be a Yoga student who does not like your method, but you should be able to effectively communicate with the vast majority of your students. Ever since the first Hatha Yoga teacher trained the first Yoga student, there had to be a bonding for the relationship to progress, and for Hatha Yoga to flourish into the many physical Yoga sub-styles, we see to this day.

There are times when, despite all the verbal cueing skills imaginable, a Yoga teacher must make a physical assist. No matter what is said, some Yoga students will learn more from a solid assist than by cueing. This helps a student “feel" where he or she should be. A verbal explanation is close, but is not the same as feeling proper alignment while an Asana is practiced.

This is difficult, if you are from a culture where men and women do not casually touch each other. Sometimes, some students just do not feel comfortable getting physical assist from their Yoga teacher. So, what do you do?

Firstly, before giving an assist, during Asana practice, a Yoga teacher should ask permission. If anyone has an objection, you are better off to demonstrate the Yoga technique or explain it verbally. It is not worth the potential conflict, and each Yoga student has a right to his, or her, own space. With that said, “Tread carefully, " when volunteering to give a physical assist to any Yoga student.

Demonstrating Asanas also has its pitfalls for Yoga teachers. Too much demonstrating can make some Yoga students feel like they are just an extension of your workout. Too little demonstrating and some Yoga students may grumble that it is easy for the Yoga teacher to say, when the Yoga teacher is “just walking around. " So, what do you do to please most of your Yoga students?

Make sure your Yoga students are exposed to a combination of Assisting, Demonstrating, and Verbal Cues. In this way, you will have satisfied most of them.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. To receive a Free e-Book: “Yoga in Practice, " and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html


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