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Teacher Interview: Preparing for Teaching a Yoga Class in Studio

I'm thrilled to announce the launch of a new series that delves into the journeys of yoga teachers who have masterfully blended their passion, career, and teaching methodologies to find their unique "sweet spot." Our inaugural conversation features none other than my esteemed business partner, Samantha. Through her insights, we explore the essential preparations and mindset shifts required for yoga teachers to thrive in a studio setting. Samantha shares her valuable experiences and strategies, offering a deeper understanding of what it takes to excel in the ever-evolving landscape of yoga instruction. Join us as we uncover the secrets to creating impactful and fulfilling yoga practices both for instructors and their students.

General Preparation

Clair: Can you share your background in yoga and how it influences your approach to teaching?

Samantha: I studied physiology in college and began working with individuals with spinal cord injuries, focusing on accessible physical movement post-graduation. This work sparked my obsession with making yoga accessible to all levels, ensuring that classes promote healthy movement for everyone involved.

Clair: How do you go about planning your yoga classes? Do you follow a specific theme or focus on particular asanas based on the class level or other factors?

Samantha: I meticulously write out all my sequences, usually centered around a theme or focusing on specific anatomical areas or poses. My goal is to create the most effective sequence for a diverse level of participants, tailoring private sessions to address individual needs and goals for that day.

Clair: How do you personally prepare before leading a class? Are there specific rituals or practices you follow to center yourself?

Samantha: As an introvert, I find grounding difficult when surrounded by others. Therefore, I have a ritual in my car before classes—arriving early to ground myself with breathing exercises or intention setting. This practice helps me shift into a teaching mindset, ensuring I'm ready to welcome and engage with my students upon arrival. Sadhana is a really important element in that too, the ability to experience my practice or the changes in my body. 

Class Structure and Content

Clair: How do you cater to students of varying skill levels in the same class?

Samantha: Balancing different skill levels in a group class is challenging. I always consider beginners, offering modifications and ensuring cues are inclusive. This approach requires more dialogue but is crucial for accommodating all attendees.

Clair: What role do props play in your classes, and how do you decide when to incorporate them?

Samantha: I heavily utilize props in my classes to support healthy movement, especially for the spine, and to make poses accessible to everyone. Props are integral to my teaching style.

Clair: How do you integrate yoga philosophy into your classes, if at all?

Samantha: My integration of yoga philosophy primarily focuses on the nervous system, emphasizing downregulation and its benefits across our systems. I often relate philosophical concepts to anatomy and personal experiences to deepen the practice's impact.

Clair: What are some common challenges you face when teaching, and how do you address them?

Samantha: Accommodating various skill levels, especially balancing beginners' needs with those of more experienced students, presents a significant challenge. I focus on inclusive teaching and vocabulary to bridge these gaps.

Interaction and Environment

Clair: How do you create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere in your yoga studio for all students?

Samantha: I strive to personally greet each student, acknowledging their needs and familiarizing them with the studio and necessary props. Despite the challenge in larger classes, personal connection is key.

Clair: How do you engage with students before, during, and after the class to enhance their learning and experience?

Samantha: Engagement is crucial for monitoring progress and adapting to students' needs, especially in navigating physical or injury-related challenges. Observing improvements in movement and wellbeing is profoundly rewarding.

Clair: How do you incorporate student feedback into your class planning and teaching style?

Samantha: While I value student feedback, I balance it with the understanding that yoga is subjective. I integrate feedback authentically, aiming to accommodate most, yet knowing I may not be the perfect fit for everyone.

Personal Insights and Reflections

Clair: What do you find most rewarding about teaching yoga?

Samantha: Witnessing students' revelations and progress, whether in privates, teacher trainings, or classes, is incredibly rewarding. The transformative impact on their bodies, minds, and spirits is what I find most fulfilling.

Clair: How do you continue your education and growth as a yoga teacher?

Samantha: I actively engage with seasoned yoga teachers, seeking their insights and participating in trainings to deepen my knowledge and apply new learnings to my practice and teaching.

Clair: What advice would you give to aspiring yoga teachers?

Samantha: Dive into what excites you, whether it's workshops, classes, or full trainings. Pursuing your passions will help you develop an authentic teaching path.

Health and Safety

Clair: How do you address injury prevention and safety in your classes?

Samantha: I emphasize injury prevention, especially for those prone to overextending. By encouraging mindful movement and the use of props, I aim to foster a safe practice environment.

Clair: How do you approach modifications and adjustments for students with injuries or special needs?

Samantha: Pre-class discussions allow for tailored modifications. I keep a close watch on these students, offering quick adjustments as needed and using inclusive cues to promote healthy movement patterns for all.

I loved this conversation with Samantha! We covered the intricacies of preparing, planning, and presenting yoga classes that speak to the heart of inclusivity and personal growth. Her approach, deeply rooted in the principles of accessibility, anatomy, and personal reflection, not only illuminates the path for aspiring yoga teachers but also enriches the practice for students of all levels. 

Samantha's insights reveal a profound dedication to the art and science of yoga, showcasing the transformative power of mindful movement and breathing in fostering a harmonious balance between body and mind. As we move forward in this series, I hope it's clear that the journey of a yoga teacher is one of continuous learning, adaptation, and above all, a deep passion for sharing the gift of yoga with the world.

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