Vinyasa comes from the Sanskrit word meaning, "flow," and the flowing movements from one position to another are the essence of the many forms that constitute Vinyasa yoga practice. Vinyasa is often compared to a dance, and this aspect of the practice can pose special problem when teaching vinyasa yoga classes.
Occupy Your Space Fully As Teacher
In yoga, the role of the teacher is designed to be different from the role in regular sports or other exercise programs. The teacher must fill both a physical and philosophical role. The teacher must be well trained in the many aspects of yoga practice with an understanding of the various levels of ability. In addition, the teacher must also have mental calm, clarity of purpose and patience to ensure that students understand the movements at whatever level of ability they can perform. The yoga teacher should also encourage balance in students' performance, thought and emotion during the class, as befits the philosophy of yoga. If experienced students challenge the teacher, he or she should respond in a calm and professional manner, encouraging the student to achieve the best performance they can under all circumstances.
Get Off the Mat Quickly
Teachers should demonstrate flowing movements clearly to the students, but then quickly get off the mat and interact with them directly. Teachers may have a variety of different skill levels in the class. Be available to help with asanas and breathing techniques so that students can become more confident. Encouragement and correction should be both gentle and specific.
Balance Challenge with Ease
Teachers often find that relying on a continuous series of challenging asanas can overwhelm students and may become discouraging to them. Mixing challenging positions with easier ones gives students an opportunity to pace their energy during a session and creates an atmosphere of practical achievement.
Respond To Students' Concerns
Vinyasa teachers often design their programs according to their own knowledge and abilities, forgetting that students may not be aware of the hazards of some positions and difficulties in maintaining a constant "flow." Stay alert to students' concerns and be prepared to adapt your program, when necessary, to maintain interest and feelings of confidence.
Study Many Forms of Yoga
Your knowledge of the different forms of yoga practice will help you to establish a working understanding of how the various positions flow together in an integrated and manageable way. It will also help you to establish your competence with students who may have studied a number of forms of yoga in the past and will allow you to communicate with them in a knowledgeable manner.
Be Aware of the Risks
As a teacher, you must always keep in mind the hazards of the practice. Be aware of the occasions when the student may be at risk for injury and provide helpful suggestions about maintaining control in the position. If you continue your studies of yoga, you can more easily keep in mind the many areas of potential problems where your student may need additional help and guidance. An understanding of problems with balance, flexibility and smooth transitioning can help you to provide the information and encouragement that your students will need.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.