Practicing Teaching

The only way I see to become a better yoga teacher is to teach.  As the saying goes “practice makes perfect” – although I would take the stance that focused, well intentioned practice results in improvement, not necessarily perfection.  Every class taught will provide the opportunity to improve some aspect of the class or overall teaching skills.  This week I ramped up my practice teaching in preparation for teaching a final class this weekend as part of my certification.

I began by preparing a sequence that I plan on teaching on Sunday for the final class.  On Monday I taught the sequence – leaving out a couple of poses on accident – for the first time to a friend who came over after work.  What I learned:

  1. Teaching to one person that is looking directly at you for an hour makes me very self-conscious
  2. I need to focus more on  breathing smoothly while I am talking and also moving through the poses
  3. Having a theme in mind will be useful in coming up with things to say that aren’t directly related to the breath
  4. I need to decide how important the music is to my class as some of it was very soft
  5. Figuring out how much I want to talk is going to take practice – and probably will depend on the class I’m teaching
  6. I didn’t feel like I talked about enough of the detail cues

The practice was well received by my sole student and it gave me things to focus on for my next class…which happened to be the next day.

This weekend on Saturday I will be assisting the final class taught by fellow teacher trainee Nikki, and on Sunday Nikki will be assisting the class that I teach.  We need to submit our sequences and playlists by Friday, so Nikki and I took the opportunity to practice teaching to each other.  I spent some time Monday night reviewing some of the detailed cues and thinking about incorporating them into the practice.

Teaching the sequence the second time went a little bit more smoothly, I felt more confident teaching the sequence, I felt like I talked more and used more detailed cues.  This time during the sequence I ended up skipping different poses than the previous night.  What was good is that despite missing poses each time, the practice lasted an hour, so I am right on track for teaching the class.

I’m definitely looking forward to teaching more and in front of more people.  There will be four “students” in the class that are part of the teacher training – perhaps more if other fellow trainees choose to attend.  I have also invited people to come to class and I hope at least some of them take the time to attend the class.

As I recognize that I look forward to teaching larger classes I am reminded that in college I preferred giving presentations to auditorium sized classes instead of classes of 20 people where I knew everyone by name.  This isn’t to say that I want to teach large anonymous classes, I want to get to know my future students and have familiar faces regularly classes.  As I teach more I am sure that the size of the class will matter less and I’ll be just as comfortable teaching a yoga class of any time at any size as I am teaching a training class for work.

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