Use Your Noggin Yogi

This is the first article in a series on how to teach life changing yoga classes that will ensure both you and your students will blossom and flourish in their practice.

Have you ever had a school teacher who made learning really fun, a teacher who was unforgettable in the Nat King Cole sense of the word? For me, it was my 4th grade teacher Ms. Blacha. She adored her job and did an amazing job of passing on her obsession with creative writing to us little folks. In fact, Ms. Blacha is a big reason why I absolutely love being a writer today.

But why should elementary teachers have all the fun? As a yoga instructor, you too can have that life-changing impact on your students simply by creatively sharing with your students your own unique well of knowledge.

In addition to being Huntington Beach’s only “Tini Yogini,” I’m also known around town as “Jung Girl” because of my obsession with the Swiss psychoanalytical theorist Carl Gustav Jung. (It’s even my license plate!) For years, I didn’t let my two passions intersect until the one, fine day I decided to give my students a little taste of Jung’s theory of The Shadow, the idea that each of us contains 2 aspects of our personality: an outward display of what we would like to express to the world and an inward aspect that we’re often afraid to share hiding under the surface. I pulled in music, quotes, and even particular poses that would help my peeps sink into their darker shadowy parts. I even held space for emotions to rise by lighting the room solely with candle so they wouldn’t feel like they were on display. The impact that this had on my students was intense and beautiful. Each and every person in that class remains my student to this day.

I don’t expect you to teach Jung Yoga to your next class, after all us yogis aren’t imitators. We are innovators. I do, however, urge you to share your own creative, unique knowledge to help inspire your students. Use your noggins, yogis, not just your bodies.

What is it that really inspires you each day? What books do you have in your library? What kind of seminars do you attend? Movies? Poetry? What is it that gets the wheels turning around in your head? Anything that excites you can and should be shared in your classes. If you’re a Star Wars fan, than be the Yoda to your Jedi students. If you’re a skier, discover where the slopes and the mat intersect and teach from that place. If Walt Whitman is your thing, design a Leaves of Grass yoga class. Make fliers that announce your special classes. Blast it across Facebook.  You will soon find that you will gain a whole new eclectic group of yogis that you never knew were out there.

By creating unique classes, you give yourself a whole new marketing edge. You now host an event, not just some predictable workout regime. It’s evident how much effort you put into the class, so your students feel important. They see how you really care about them as individuals. And let’s face it; if you don’t care this deeply for your job or clients, you have no business being a yoga instructor.

We live in a world that can become plagued with mind-numbing monotony. People wake up, eat their oatmeal, shower, take the kids to school, go to work, come home from work, eat dinner, and go to bed--only to do the same thing all over again the next day. This kills the soul, folks. Why not be the person who helps jumpstart their excitement? Give them unpredictable splashes of hope that can change lives.

Yoga is a dynamic practice that penetrates the body, the soul, and the mind. It is so important for teachers to also remain students of life. When you share with your students the things that feed your soul, you create a hunger for that same knowledge within them.

Next time, we’ll cover how to become the perfect yogic DJ and creating music mixes to lead your students into a deeper, more meaningful practice. See you then!

 

Sarah Stevenson, a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes but also life affirming workshops. She also writes for www.beachbody.com, which provides effective home fitness dvds for all fitness levels including the extreme fitness Asylum workout.

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HaliCat, posted on January 16, 2013

Sarah, thank you & please keep these articles coming! I too am a new teacher & appreciate all the advice & inspiration. Sometimes I have a 'theme' in mind & then its like I freeze & lose my confidence when it comes time to 'teach' it....any advice?

tjb194, posted on September 6, 2012

Thank you. So true. Be our self and inspire everyone else to do the same. I get it. Thanks for the inspiration on how to teach, from a new yoga teacher. :) PS: any tips on where to start looking for PT writing work? --Titi

vegout, posted on August 31, 2012

What a great article! Very inspiring. Now to figure out a way to create a class based on Star Trek!

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