“Yoga for beginners is a very personal journey, so let your students know you understand this, giving them a practise that is suitable for them alone. A good teacher can do this even in a busy class situation, getting to know your student before making big adjustments, or changes”
Where do you begin with Yoga for beginners? With complete awareness of where you want to take your student would be my advice. From my experience, there is still, if not more, confusion out there about what yoga really is. Yoga is being marketed quite ruthlessly at body conscious people, who desire to look a particular way. This is very short sighted, and will at some point backfire when it loses favour. So, I think honesty is the most important place to begin with your new students, not only is it ethical, it will also reap its rewards. The students you do keep will stay with you for life, the others will jump onto the next passing fitness craze, along with hot yoga and the rest.
“Yoga in Essex has changed dramatically in the past few years, and I know a greater awareness of yoga is a good thing. What I fear is a rapid expansion based on commercial reasons rather than the gradual opening up based on personal and global growth”
Yoga will transform the body and the mind with a sustained personal investment, and this is where we will begin. Yoga for beginners is a very personal journey, so let your students know you understand this, giving them a practise that is suitable for them alone. A good teacher can do this even in a busy class situation, getting to know your student before making big adjustments, or changes.
New students often ask me how much should they practise, or how can they get into a particular posture. I usually begin with small changes that are manageable in their everyday lives. This can often be as simple as sitting on the floor instead of a chair, this will open the hips and stretch the hamstrings. It is an achievable change that will bring results, so long as it is done regularly. One of the biggest mistakes is to over practice early on, it is usually not sustainable overall. You want your students to practise yoga as a way of life, so gradually introduce this concept as the doors begin to open for them.
Bringing an awareness of posture and breath into the daily lives of your yoga beginners can be enough to begin with. Talking too much of pranayama and bandhas may well confuse your new students. Enabling your new beginners to yoga will encourage them to ask questions, and then you can start to introduce the more esoteric examples of yoga. This way of teaching yoga for beginners in areas such as Essex will build foundations for a new way of life, you will bring your students with you on the journey of yoga. As your students begin to open to new possibilities they will want to explore yoga in more depth, which in turn will bring about more change and more self-enquiry.
I personally teach my yoga for beginner’s classes in several different ways, depending on the students. Some students need a complete introduction form very basic stretches and breath awareness, to being coached in relaxation techniques. While others would come in to a more general class suitable for all levels. I fully understand the need to label classes, it helps new students make an informed choice, but in reality, a class should be able to accommodate all levels. A good teacher will be able to offer adjustments to posture and breath on an individual level, giving each student a fulfilling experience. It can be inspirational for a beginner to yoga to see what can be achieved with regular practise.
A mixed class in the Mysore style is a perfect example. In a Mysore style class, each student will work their way through a set sequence of postures, as opposed to a teacher leading the class. The teacher will give individual instruction, and make recommendations on how to advance a practise. This works perfectly well in most cases, but it may be that a student requires a more controlled setting. This can be done in a one to one setting, but the same techniques would still apply.
At the end of the day we are all beginners. Unfortunately, progress is measured in physical prowess, and how it improves our appearance not in how it affects us emotionally and spiritually. We at Yoga Dharma are committed to practising and teaching with integrity. Our beginners yoga classes in Essex and Southend are consistent with our linage and without compromise.