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Episode 149: How to Change Your Teaching Style Without Losing Your Students

This week’s episode is a continuation of last week’s discussion on how to cope with changes to your yoga practice and teaching style. Jason shares his more practical tips on how to change up your teaching style with grace. Something that is particularly challenging when your livelihood depends on an earlier approach.

We talk about:

* How Jason got started teaching in the Ashtanga tradition, and why he began to lose interest in that and move on to more technique-oriented approach

* A few pose techniques that Jason has changed his opinions on (and why). He talks about his approach to backbends, twists, Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge), and Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose).

* Why it’s a good idea to make changes to your yoga teaching schedule slowly over time. (Especially if you’re making a drastic change.)

* How to communicate your more subtle changes to your teaching approach to longtime students in a way that’s both diplomatic and respectful

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Episode 148: Change Is the Only Certainty…In Yoga

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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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 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.

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Survivor’s Guide to Teaching Yoga When Life Throws You a Curveball

Yoga Teaching Tips for When Life Throws You a Curveball
Nearly six years ago, my daughter Sofia-Rose was born. She brought me happiness I could have never imagined. She also obliterated my home practice beyond all recognition for more than a year.

Before she was born, I was so hopped-up on adrenaline, oxytocin, and optimism (not always my strength) that I didn’t think her birth would change my practice. In fact, I was delusional enough to think that her birth would inspire even greater dedication to my practice. I thought her presence would be my shot at a complete renewal, a total overhaul in which nothing could get between my mat and me.

Yes, I love her to the point that it makes me tremble. Yes, parenting has taught me more about patience, breath, and love than the rest of my life combined. No, I wouldn’t trade her for the world. But did my practice stay the same? [email protected]#l no! Not even close. My asana practice crumbled to a shell of its former self and I grew a Dad-bod like you wouldn’t believe. Even more to the point of this post, my teaching temporarily suffered with these changes. Now, it’s better than ever since I have more life experience to draw on (and I’ll share some of the yoga teaching tips I learned below). But, I didn’t see this at the time.

Everyone goes through different chapters in life. Everyone faces curveballs. And, like a good curveball, you usually don’t see them coming. Being a yoga practitioner and yoga teacher doesn’t inoculate you from life. It just provides you with insight and skills that help you manage the complexity of the human condition.

Since we all face unforeseen circumstances from time to time that affect our practice and teaching, it’s important to know how to stay honest and authentic in your teaching when your life gets (even more) complicated.

Here are some practical yoga teaching tips to work with:

1. Don’t Press Too Hard

When baseball players are in a slump, they sometimes perpetuate it further by pressing—or, becoming overly eager to make something happen. This undermines their ability to relax and respond to the game in a skillful way. I’ve noticed the same thing in myself at times. When my teaching becomes stale, I often overcompensate by trying too hard. I get too wordy, too complicated, and too hurried.

If you’re going through a challenging phase in your teaching, try this tip instead: Step back slightly and let the practice shine. Minimize the impulse to overdo and trust that the practice itself will be enough for your students.

See also 5 Ways to (Re)Inspire Your Yoga Practice

2. Be Transparent Without Being Overly-Indulgent

Never make class about you and what you’re going through. After all, the students are paying you—you’re not paying them for group therapy. At the same time, it’s nice to be relatively transparent and to acknowledge what’s happening in your life (at least in limited doses). Students appreciate the reminder that you’re a real, flesh and blood person—and, that yoga is a practical, accessible practice for everyone (at all times). It’s likely that many of your students have experienced what you’re currently going through and this may help them connect to your teaching even more deeply.

3. Don’t Radically Change Your Class or Teaching Style

It’s important to be consistent with your students. When teachers go through a significant transition in their lives, they sometimes make abrupt stylistic changes to their teaching. While it’s important to be relatively transparent, it’s also essential to provide a consistent experience for your students. If you’re a teaching a vinyasa class, don’t randomly teach a Yin or restorative class because you’re tired or overwhelmed. Sure, you can play with the pace, but be responsive to your students and provide them with the class that they came for.

4. Practice – Even If It Looks Very Different Now

My practice was shorter, milder, less frequent, and less focused for 18-months or so after Sofia was born. But I still practiced. I still connected to my breath and did the occasional Sun Salutation. I still did some shoulder and hip openers most evenings. I also made sure to have one slightly more intense practice each week. Instead of being attached to the way you were practicing before the curveball came across your plate, do whatever you can to survive the storm—and do your best to savor it.

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