This is it! You are finally a certified yoga professor. You have finished your training as a yogi and are ready to jump into the deep end and teach you first yoga lesson.
But you still have a few lingering doubts about what your yoga classes should look like.
Relax, it’s perfectly normal, especially if this is your first time teaching yoga.
Because the goal of yoga is to achieve serenity in the face of daily chaos, we want to give you all the tools you will need to start out on the best possible foot.
All so that you can teach your students and fellow practitioners the best way to relax and allow their worries to simply flow away.
Let’s start with the basics for preparing your first yoga lesson. The time spend preparing might seem rather discouraging for some, but it is an essential step toward a seamless first lesson.
For example, you might want to consider:
Selecting a theme for your yoga class
Good yoga classes near me should all focus on a specific theme. It can be as specific as attracting plenty or as simple as opening up your hips.
Keeping a theme in mind helps you work out a coherent and inspiring lesson.
You might want to introduce this theme at the beginning of class and circle backward, clearly emphasising how each of the poses are connected to the greater theme. You may even want to read an inspirational quote or propose a meditation.
Choosing Your Yoga Poses: How To Establish a Constructive and Varied Programme
Whichever theme you end up choosing, you will need to offer a variety of poses over the course of your yoga lesson.
- the Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottasana) => to strengthen your abdominal muscles
- the Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) => to slim your waist
- the Fish pose (Matsyasana) => to improve your breathing
- the Bow pose (Dhanurasana) => to improve the function of the cerebral system.
Some poses are not recommended for people suffering from certain injuries or illnesses, so make sure you adapt your asanas to your students’ needs.
Timing: Stay Within the Time Limit for Your Yoga Courses
Most yoga studio lessons are about an hour long. Generally, the first ten minutes are dedicated to breathing exercises and some gentle stretches on the mat.
The next 20 minutes will include flowing, dynamic sequences (Vinyasa Yoga) or poses maintained for 3 to 6 breaths (Hatha Yoga). For the next five minutes, you might choose to work intensively on the central pose of the lesson.
You might then dedicate five more minutes to balance poses. Then go on to sitting or stretching poses for the next ten minutes. And the last ten minutes could be spent in meditation (in a seated pose, for example.)
All these elements should be linked by soft transitions.
Safety: your role is essential
Beyond a logical flow between the poses, you will want your students to be properly warmed up and prepared for each of the poses.
You should never start a class with a Full Bow (Padangustha Dhanurasana) or Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) without having previously properly warmed up the spinal cord.
It is important for yoga teachers to understand human anatomy and the body’s limitations in order to ensure their student’s safety. If you are doing home yoga, it is imperative that you listen to your body and see how it reacts to certain postures.
The following elements are essential to safe yoga practice:
- a yoga mat: for group sessions, you will be expected to provide them to your students
- a towel to put on the mat
- a small blanket, useful for the final relaxation sequence
Know Your Yoga Students’ Level
It is extremely important for yoga instructors to adapt their courses to their apprentices’ physical condition. For private yoga lessons, this is easy. You can simply ask what the person is feeling and can observe how easily he or she does the various exercises.
In a group, though, you will have people at various different levels - some will have been practising yoga for a long time and some will be complete beginners.
Your goal is to guide them on the path of both mental and physical well-being.
You should motivate your advanced students so they keep on practising yoga and your beginners to keep trying and surpass themselves.
By the way: some novices approach yoga with certain insecurities - for example, that they aren’t flexible enough to practice yoga - and it will be up to you to ease their fears and make them feel comfortable.
As you can see, a yoga instructor is also a personal coach. You should support anyone who calls on you as they follow the path you have blazed before them.
To help you with this, think back on when you yourself were a student. What did your teacher do that you particularly appreciated? Was there something missing in their teaching?
To err is human. This is normal. Remember this when trying to help your own students.
Learning to Judge the Mood of Your Yoga Group
Fanny, one of our Superprof yoga teachers, explains that, in order to adapt her yoga courses to everyone’s level, she proposes alternative poses depending on her students’ level. This is her way of providing an impetus to strengthen the energy of the group as a whole without leaving anyone behind.
Yoga is a discipline that is open to everybody, regardless of age, sex or physical condition. You will soon find that your yoga courses contain different types of students.
Some simply want to relax. Others want to fight stress and learn to manage their emotions. Other students are true devotees, eager to surpass themselves.
That’s why it’s important for you to quickly get a feel for each of your yoga students so as to forge a group dynamic in which everyone feels at ease.
Sometimes, you might have difficulties going through the yoga poses you had planned for yoga class.
Other times, you will know you are dealing with experts and you can get creative, choosing more difficult poses for everyone to do.
This is true whether you are teaching Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga or Hatha Yoga.
And this is especially true for Prenatal Yoga, where you will be confronted with women whose bodies are constantly changing. This affects their mood and physical capabilities, and you will have to learn how to navigate that challenge and overcome it in order to bring them the peace they need.
You will soon realise that the mood of your group can depend on:
- The type of student and their approach to yoga
- The seasons
- The hour of day the yoga classes take place
- Your own mood and enthusiasm.
Sequencing Your Yoga Classes: Breathing - Warming Up - Yoga Poses - Relaxation
Your session will differ somewhat depending on the type of yoga your are practising. But generally speaking, any yoga classes near me can be divided into several distinct phases that it is important for you to integrate into your yoga lessons.
To open your yoga class, we suggest allowing your participants to free themselves from the events of the day (if your session is in the evening) or whatever else might be polluting their spirit. Preliminary relaxation exercises are a good way to start a yoga lesson. Make sure this phase is long enough to allow everyone to leave behind whatever might be weighing them down.
This is best coupled with breathing exercises (called Pranayama) that allow you to get in touch with your emotions. By learning to control your breathing, you learn to recognise what type of breathing relaxes you and what kind is associated with moments of stress, anger or fear.
Once you feel the time is right and your audience is entirely concentrated on their own body, you can transition to warm-up poses.
Then, you will practice a series of yoga postures (Asanas) depending on the nature of your class.
Choose the sequence of postures and how long you want them to be held (usually around 3 minutes) beforehand. Don’t forget to take a moment to decompress between each pose (except in power yoga disciplines, in which the goal is to segue into each pose in a fluid and dynamic manner.)
Invite them to associate each gesture within the pose with the proper breathing (inhaling and exhaling).
Help those who are still struggling to liberate their body’s flexibility and encourage them to test their limits, without forcing them.
Even though every step of a yoga session is an invitation to meditation, the end of a class is a good time to relax and decompress one last time before re-entering the daily grind. All the muscles will be well stretched and more experienced students will be able to better appreciate the benefits of yoga.
Congratulations, you have just taught your first yoga session.
Setting Up Your Home Yoga Sessions
All the yogi masters agree: you have to practice yoga regularly.
Whether for you or for your students or in between your classes at a yoga academy, you might want to set up an individual session for a daily workout.
Both teachers and students should practice yoga as often as possible.
The first question you should ask yourself is this: how much time do I have for a good session? Only 15 minutes or maybe a whole hour?
Evaluate as precisely as possible the time you can spare to regularly practice relaxation. If you can’t isolate yourself for a whole hour during the day, don’t worry.
Simply adapt the amount of poses you do accordingly (remember to include a relaxation and meditation phase at the beginning and the end of the yoga session.)
Then, ask yourself why you are practising yoga today. To improve your sleep? To help deal with stress? To improve your flexibility?
One sophrologist and specialist in Prenatal yoga structures her personal yoga sessions in the following way:
- She starts with a warm-up phase including a meditation (with breathing exercises) and stretches.
- She then does whatever poses she feels like doing, that she knows well and is comfortable with.
- Afterwards, she concentrates on one pose she hasn’t yet mastered (being careful to listen to her body and not force it).
- She then goes on to exercises to help her return to her centre
- and ends with a meditation session allowing her to slowly re-integrate the real world, either by adding some music or by letting the silence around her envelope her.
Choose the poses depending on your mood. It is important for you to enjoy yourself and practice daily.
For your novice students, remind them not to overdo it. They need to give their body time to find its natural flexibility. Patience is one of the fundamentals of yoga.
You now have everything you need to prepare your first yoga lesson. Throw yourself into teaching and bring your students the serenity that will allow them to face their daily trials with good humour. Remain connected to the various groups you teach and get to know them well. When you do that, you have everything you need to succeed.
Find The Right Lesson Structure for Your Yoga Courses
Before you do anything else, ask yourself how you want to go about your teaching.
Would you prefer to be salaried as part of an association, or a freelancer? If the latter, should you register as a sole trader or a limited company?
One of the advatages of working for a yoga association or yoga studio is that of being a salaried employee with all the resultant benefits:
- social benefits paid by your employer
- a retirement plan
- paid holidays
- a guaranteed amount of classes per week.
Nowadays, many yoga instructors choose instead to become self-employed because it is the easiest to set up and administer.
Here are some important things to know about going freelance as a sole trader:
- you are personally liable if your business goes into debt (your personal assets can be seized)
- you have to register with
- HMRC you are responsible for paying into social benefits such as health care and retirement funds
- you must pay TAV if you make more than £ 73,000 in a year.
The most problematic part of freelancing is the fact that sick days mean no income, and if for some reason you get into debt, you are liable with your own personal property as well.
Registering as a limited company avoids personal liability, but involves enough extra paperwork that you would probably need to hire someone to do it for you.
In Britain, there seems to be no profit limit deciding whether you need to register as self-employed or as a limited company.
Finally, what if none of these models really work for you? There is nothing to prevent you from trying a mix-and-match approach.
For example, you might work part-time for a Hatha Yoga centre and offer home yoga lessons on less common forms of yoga (such as Nidra Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga or Yin Yoga).
Because it is difficult to find employment as a salaried yoga instructor, many yoga teachers choose self-employment. Learn how to find yoga students here.
Either way, the question of what your classes should cost is primordial and greatly influences how you will give your yoga courses.
If I need yoga classes near me in the UK, I find them on Superprof. From Yoga in London to Yoga Edinburgh & yoga Manchester, we are yoga mad.