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How to Teach Yoga Philosophy to Beginners

First a shameless plug: If you’re interested in learning more, check out my online course, The Art of Teaching Beginners. This course provides a complete blueprint for teaching new students and includes the ultimate four-week beginners’ series that you can teach in your local community.

Jason Crandell teaching yoga philosophy.

The yoga tradition is steeped in philosophy. However, teaching philosophy in an impactful, engaging, and concise way is incredibly challenging–especially when you’re working with beginning students.

Tips for Teaching Yoga Philosophy to Beginners

Here are a few tips — and if you’d like to hear me talk about this at length, you can listen to Yogaland podcast, episode 136, Yoga Philosophy for Beginners.

Keep themes relatable.

There are countless philosophical, spiritual, and humanistic themes that you may choose to teach your students. Whichever you choose, focus on keeping these themes easy to relate to. Use clear language and, when possible, relate these themes to the physicality of the practice.

Keep it brief.

Unless you are a seasoned at giving Dharma Talks – and, Dharma Talks are part of your teaching style – be brief when you discuss the philosophical, spiritual, and humanistic themes that you’re incorporating. It’s easy to become a little too tangential and lose track of time when you’re engaging in these conversations.

Use good timing.

I have found that the most effective time to incorporate these dimensions into the practice are towards the end of class. Most students will be arriving to class after they’ve just woken up or after a long day of sitting at work. As such, most students want to get into their body through movement as soon as possible. Students are typically more receptive to contemplative work toward the end of class since they have satisfied their healthy desire to move.

Be respectful of all belief systems.

Be mindful that students may have belief systems that are contrary to yours. It’s good to be an advocate for the philosophical dimensions that you want to teach, but take care that you’re respectful to other belief systems.

Yoga Philosophy for Beginners: Key Concepts

The most important philosophical concepts to teach your students include:

  • The asana practice is part of a massive, all-encompassing tradition that seeks to liberate practitioners from their limited notions of self. As such, there are several philosophical and existential elements that we want to introduce to our students.
  • Without compassion, students will be unable to look within. They will become too frustrated with the practice of Yoga and they will get in their own way. There is nothing more important than helping new students develop compassion for themselves and others.
  • The practice of yoga is meant to be a lifelong process. This is very different than what we’ve become used to in our modern world of quick fixes. Since yoga is a lifelong process and learning can go through peaks and valleys, it’s important to help your students be patient with themselves.
  • Perhaps, there is nothing more important in the pursuit of yoga than perseverance. As a student, you know how yoga has required–and, developed–your perseverance. Helping your students be steady in the midst of difficulty is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher.
  • Satya, or honesty, is an essential element of the yoga practice. One of the most obvious ways this will play out as a new student, is when new students are confronted with their limitations. When confronted with limitations, students often get frustrated and either 1) pull back from their practice and have a negative self-image, or 2) push forward through discomfort instead of being patient and respecting their body. Teaching students to honor their limitations without retreating or pushing too far forward is one of the most valuable lessons you will ever teach.

For more on this topic, check out my newest online course, The Art of Teaching Beginners.

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Episode 141: Q&A with Jason about Teaching Beginners

In this last episode of our Begin Again series, Jason answers several listener questions about teaching yoga to beginning yoga students.

We cover lots of ground, including:

* When (or if) to encourage a student to leave a beginner level class for a more challenging one

* How to teach Ujjayi breathing to beginners, and why it’s important to do it separately from asanas

* When to teach the nuances of poses like Downward Facing Dog — specifically how to work skillfully with the shoulders when they’re in an above-the-head position like Down Dog

* Striking the right balance between teaching technique and flow in a beginning vinyasa class

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

The Art of Teaching Beginners Course with Jason

Episode 139: Teaching Beginners in an All Levels Class

Episode 138: The Art of Teaching Asana to Beginners

Episode 136: Yoga Philosophy for Beginners

Episode 135: Jason’s Tips for Teaching Beginners (And Beginning Again)

WRITE A YOGA PODCAST REVIEW

If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! It makes it easier for others to find the podcast. If you don’t know how to leave a review, here are some step by step instructions. Woohoo! So easy!

SHOUT-OUT TO OUR SPONSORS

1. LOLA is a female-founded company offering 100 organic cotton tampons, pads, and liners. For every purchase, LOLA donates feminine care products to homeless shelters across the U.S. For 40% off all subscriptions, visit mylola.com and enter the code YOGALAND40 when you subscribe.

2. Care/of is a monthly subscription vitamin service made from high, quality ingredients personally tailored to your exact needs. Their short quiz asks you about your diet, health goals, and lifestyle choices and uses these answers to create personalized vitamin packs just for you. For 50% off your first month of personalized care/of vitamins, visit takecareof.com and enter promo code YOGALAND50.

3, PoshMark carries second-hand women’s, kids, and men’s clothing. They have tons of great brands like Lululemon, MadeWell, and Antropologie, which are all at your fingertips from the app. Shipping is easy for both the seller and the buyer. Find me at PoshMark.com at ferrettiO. Enter invite code YOGALAND to get $5 off your first purchase.

4. GreenChef is a USDA certified organic company and meal delivery service. Everything is hand-picked, delivered right to your door, pre-measured, perfectly portioned, and mostly prepped. You can choose from Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, Gluten-Free, Omnivore, and Carnivore. If you’re on a structured meal plan like me, it’s a great way to get more variety into your diet without the hassle of doing all the planning and prep work yourself. For $50 off your first box of Green Chef, go to Greenchef.us/yogaland.

5. If you’re like me and you wear your gym or yoga clothes 6 or 7 days a week, you want to look put together. My life has changed since Fabletics became a sponsor of the podcast. Their styles are super adorable and affordable. Get two pairs of leggings for $24 when you sign up to be a VIP. Go to fabletics.com/YOGALAND to take advantage of this deal, get exclusive discounts, and more.

6. Simple Habit is a 5-minute meditation app. They have super short, doable meditations that you can do everyday. It’s available on iOS, Android, and the web. Since it’s an app, you can easily track how many minutes of meditation you’ve done in a month, browse from over a thousand different topics, create playlists, and set daily reminders. It’s super convenient and will keep you in the habit. To try Simple Habit for free for a month, visit SimpleHabit.com/YOGALAND.

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Episode 139: Teaching Beginners in an All Levels Yoga Class

teaching to beginners in an all levels yoga class | Jason Crandell Yoga quote

My husband, Jason Crandell, is back this week, and he’s sharing practical tips for teaching beginning students when they come to a mixed-level class.

Here are a few things you’ll learn:
* How to keep a new student safe without making them feel singled out (and when to just let things go!)
* Strategies for helping beginners (and everyone else, too!) through the Chaturanga-Up Dog-Down Dog transition and alternatives
* Tips for helping students step from Down Dog to a Lunge in Sun Salutations
* Teaching the details of Down Dog
– Troubleshooting for tight students
– How to find the appropriate distance between the feet and hands
* How to help students find the right distance between their feet in standing poses

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

The Art of Teaching Beginners Course with Jason

From our blog: How to Teach Beginners in Mixed Level Classes
Episode 138: The Art of Teaching Asana to Beginners

Episode 136: Yoga Philosophy for Beginners

Episode 135: Jason’s Tips for Teaching Beginners (And Beginning Again)

WRITE A YOGA PODCAST REVIEW

If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! It makes it easier for others to find the podcast. If you don’t know how to leave a review, here are some step by step instructions. Woohoo! So easy!

SHOUT-OUT TO OUR SPONSORS

1. LOLA is a female-founded company offering 100 organic cotton tampons, pads, and liners. For every purchase, LOLA donates feminine care products to homeless shelters across the U.S. For 40% off all subscriptions, visit mylola.com and enter the code YOGALAND40 when you subscribe.

2. Care/of is a monthly subscription vitamin service made from high, quality ingredients personally tailored to your exact needs. Their short quiz asks you about your diet, health goals, and lifestyle choices and uses these answers to create personalized vitamin packs just for you. For 50% off your first month of personalized care/of vitamins, visit takecareof.com and enter promo code YOGALAND50.

3, PoshMark carries second-hand women’s, kids, and men’s clothing. They have tons of great brands like Lululemon, MadeWell, and Antropologie, which are all at your fingertips from the app. Shipping is easy for both the seller and the buyer. Find me at PoshMark.com at ferrettiO. Enter invite code YOGALAND to get $5 off your first purchase.

4. GreenChef is a USDA certified organic company and meal delivery service. Everything is hand-picked, delivered right to your door, pre-measured, perfectly portioned, and mostly prepped. You can choose from Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, Gluten-Free, Omnivore, and Carnivore. If you’re on a structured meal plan like me, it’s a great way to get more variety into your diet without the hassle of doing all the planning and prep work yourself. For $50 off your first box of Green Chef, go to Greenchef.us/yogaland.

5. If you’re like me and you wear your gym or yoga clothes 6 or 7 days a week, you want to look put together. My life has changed since Fabletics became a sponsor of the podcast. Their styles are super adorable and affordable. Get two pairs of leggings for $24 when you sign up to be a VIP. Go to fabletics.com/YOGALAND to take advantage of this deal, get exclusive discounts, and more.

6. Simple Habit is a 5-minute meditation app. They have super short, doable meditations that you can do everyday. It’s available on iOS, Android, and the web. Since it’s an app, you can easily track how many minutes of meditation you’ve done in a month, browse from over a thousand different topics, create playlists, and set daily reminders. It’s super convenient and will keep you in the habit. To try Simple Habit for free for a month, visit SimpleHabit.com/YOGALAND.

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Episode 138: The Art of Teaching Asana to Beginners

teaching beginners yoga Jason Crandell yoga quote | yoga podcast

We all start out as beginners. But that doesn’t mean that teaching beginning yoga students is intuitive. In this episode of our Begin Again series, Jason tackles the specifics of teaching asana to beginning students. Jason shares:

* Why it’s important to help students pay attention to their whole experience in a particular pose, not just the muscle or muscle groups that they’re stretching

* How to help students avoid comparing themselves to other students (or to what they were able to do in the past if they’re beginning again after stepping away for a while)

* A skillful way to teach breath and movement in a vinyasa-based class

* Why power, precision, and mindfulness are the three elements Jason focuses on most when he teaches beginners

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Blog Post: Tips for Teaching Asana to Beginners

Episode 136: Yoga Philosophy for Beginners

Episode 135: Jason’s Tips for Teaching Beginners (And Beginning Again)

The Art of Teaching Beginners Course with Jason

WRITE A YOGA PODCAST REVIEW

If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! It makes it easier for others to find the podcast. If you don’t know how to leave a review, here are some step by step instructions. Woohoo! So easy!

SHOUT-OUT TO OUR SPONSORS

1. LOLA is a female-founded company offering 100 organic cotton tampons, pads, and liners. For every purchase, LOLA donates feminine care products to homeless shelters across the U.S. For 40% off all subscriptions, visit mylola.com and enter the code YOGALAND40 when you subscribe.

2. Care/of is a monthly subscription vitamin service made from high, quality ingredients personally tailored to your exact needs. Their short quiz asks you about your diet, health goals, and lifestyle choices and uses these answers to create personalized vitamin packs just for you. For 50% off your first month of personalized care/of vitamins, visit takecareof.com and enter promo code YOGALAND50.

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Episode 136: Yoga Philosophy for Beginners

Yoga philosophy for beginners | Yoga quote | yoga podcast | yogaland podcast

In this second episode of our Begin Again series, we talk about what keeps us motivated to practice when yoga is feeling stagnant and Jason offers useful tips for teachers who are faced with the difficult (but rewarding!) task of teaching yoga to beginners.

He also talks about how to introduce philosophy to beginning students and how to motivate students to keep coming back to their mats.

Here’s an overview of the episode:

* Why beginning again can be a great thing even for experienced yoga practitioners

* Some common mistakes yoga teachers make when they teach beginners

* How to approach teaching philosophy to beginners in a way that doesn’t confuse or overwhelm

* How he navigates sharing the philosophical dimensions of yoga so that they are useful to everyone regardless of their cultural and ideological belief systems

* Tips for being a good host to new students and why he thinks that’s a key component to keeping students motivated

*BONUS: Jason explains some of the yamas and niyamas and puts them into a modern context


RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Episode 135: Jason’s Tips for Teaching Beginners (And Beginning Again)

How to Leave a (Positive!) Podcast Review (Hint, Hint!)

Coming Soon! The Art of Teaching Beginners Course with Jason

Episode 117: Jason’s Favorite Non-Asana Yoga Books

WRITE A YOGA PODCAST REVIEW

If you like the podcast, please leave a review or rating on iTunes! It makes it easier for others to find the podcast. If you don’t know how to leave a review, here are some step by step instructions. Woohoo! So easy!

SHOUT-OUT TO OUR SPONSORS

1. LOLA is a female-founded company offering 100 organic cotton tampons, pads, and liners. For every purchase, LOLA donates feminine care products to homeless shelters across the U.S. For 40% off all subscriptions, visit mylola.com and enter the code YOGALAND40 when you subscribe.

2. Care/of is a monthly subscription vitamin service made from high, quality ingredients personally tailored to your exact needs. Their short quiz asks you about your diet, health goals, and lifestyle choices and uses these answers to create personalized vitamin packs just for you. For 50% off your first month of personalized care/of vitamins, visit takecareof.com and enter promo code YOGALAND50.

6 comments Add Your Own

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