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How to Teach Beginners in Mixed-Level Classes

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.

How to teach beginning yogis in mixed level classes

On episode 139 of Yogaland podcast, Andrea and I talked about the challenges to go along with teaching beginners is balancing in mixed-level classes. (You can listen here.) In an ideal world,  new students would come to an introduction to yoga series before attending mixed-level classes, but this is often not the case. So, teachers have to be prepared to balance the needs of students with varying degrees of skill and experience.

In this post, I share my best tips for nurturing the beginning students in your classes, making them feel welcome, and challenging your other, more experienced, students, too.

Top 3 Challenges of Working with Beginning Students in Mixed-Level Yoga Classes and How to Address Them

Challenge: Meeting Everyone’s Needs

As teachers, we strive to include and support every student in our class. However, there are significant limitations to our ability to take care of disparate needs, especially when beginners come to mixed-level or experienced-level classes.

Tip for Meeting Different Needs:

My best advice is to be kind, do your best to provide variations, and to surrender the idea that you’ll be able to make everyone’s experience perfect.

Teaching Beginners in Mixed Level Yoga Classes

Challenge: Keeping Beginners Safe in a Mixed-Level Yoga Class

Maintaining safety is paramount in all yoga classes. There are several things that you can do to promote safety for all your students in your classes.

Tips for Keeping Beginners Safe in Mixed-Level Yoga Classes:

Create a culture of safety.

First, you can promote safety through culture that you shape in your classes. This means that aren’t telling your students to “push it” or that they can “handle anything as long as they are breathing deeply.” Instead, encourage the process of students listening to their bodies and taking care of themselves. Regularly communicate to your class that yoga can be challenging and, at times uncomfortable, but it should never hurt. If something hurts, stop doing the pose and ask for the teacher’s feedback about the posture when the class is over.

Emphasize awareness.

The second key to promoting safety is to make it clear to beginners that they are responsible for paying attention to the comfort of their bodies. Let students know that you will let them know if you see any obvious misalignments. But, ultimately, students know their own body best and should come out of poses that don’t feel appropriate.

Address safety concerns first.

The third and fourth keys to promoting safety may overlap. The third key is that if you see a misalignment that may be injurious—or a beginner doing a variation that is clearly inappropriate for their level—communicate this to them. The fourth key is to not allow beginners to do inversions unless they are closely supervised. If you see a beginner doing an inversion—even Shoulderstand—and it looks precarious, make sure to have them come out of the posture and provide them with something else to practice.

Challenge: Keeping Beginners Engaged in a Mixed-Level Class

This may be the most significant challenge for working with beginners in a mixed-level class.

Tips for Keeping Beginners Engaged:

Manage expectations.

First, help manage new students expectations in a mixed-level class. I like to tell new students in this scenario that their goals should be to learn a couple of things and have a good time. I always let them know that learning takes repetition and consistency over time. I also remind them that no one is watching them and there is nobody to impress or disappoint. Finally, I try to convince them that learning takes years and that the yoga room is good place to get lost and confused at times.

Start simple.

Second, I always include the simplest way to do every posture throughout the class.

Then, I amplify intensity as the class proceeds. For example, everyone starts with Locust and Cobra before Chaturanga and Up Dog. This way, new students see the value of the simpler options. When new students see the value of simple options, they are more likely to take them instead of jumping forward to the hardest option that may not be appropriate for them.

Leave room for exploration.

Lastly, I try to let students experiment and make mistakes without correcting every single alignment issue they’re having—unless there is a clear probability of injury.

Don’t forget to check out episode 139 of Yogaland podcast and The Art of Teaching Beginners if you want to learn more.

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Episode 146: Yoga for Kids and Their Grown-Ups with Katherine Priore Ghannam

Katherine Priore Ghannam quote | yoga podcast | Yoga for Kids

This week, I talk to Katherine Priore Ghannam all about yoga for kids and her innovative program Headstand, which offered yoga to low-income K-12 schools around San Francisco.

We cover some of the lessons Katherine learned from starting her passion project from scratch, and why it’s oh-so-beneficial to introduce yoga and mindfulness in schools.

Whether you’re interested in sharing yoga with kids or just need some inspiration to keep working toward your goals, this episode is for you.

We talk about:

* The story of how Headstand got its start (and why she kept at it despite many of the kids initial resistance)

* Why she designed the yoga program as part of the school curriculum

* How she uses the techniques she’s learned teaching school children into her own family

* Practical tips for how to introduce yoga to children at different ages

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Yoga for Kids and Their Grown Ups: 100+ Fun Yoga and Mindfulness Activities to Practice Together by Katherine Ghannam

Episode 16: Katherine Priore – Combatting Toxic Stress in Low-Income Schools

Spotlight on: Headstand

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. 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.

3. Warby Parker offers boutique glasses at a revolutionary price. Glasses start at $95, including prescription lenses. Lens options include anti-glare, anti-scratch coatings, and even blue light filtering coatings. Download the Warby Parker app on your iPhoneX to try on glasses virtually. Or, get 5 pairs shipped directly to you so you can try them on in person with the In-Home Try On Kit. To order your free in-home  try on kit, go to WarbyParker.com/Yogaland.

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Episode 145: Teaching Part-Time is Still Teaching – Listener Responses

The recent episode where Jason and I discuss teaching yoga part-time vs. making it a full-time career really struck a chord. I was surprised by the number of emails, direct messages, and comments that listeners sent my way.

As usual, you guys were full of insights. So for this week’s episode, I decided to share some of those comments as inspiration, motivation, and support for others who are fulfilling their dharma of sharing yoga.

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Episode 143: Full-Time or Part-Time? Things to Consider as You Forge Your Teaching Path

Instagram handles from listeners who contributed to this episode:

@melissaahrens
@maria.odense.yoga
@emmacampbellstanway_yoga
@charissim_
@rhiannonkirbyyoga
@lesliekersha
@kristen_fewel
@wendywebbyoga
@lmoerdyke
@yogawithsarahj
@mattgillyoga
@the.inflexible.yogi
@rowenamittalyoga
@Iamkatiearnold
@nicolesciacca

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. 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.

3. Warby Parker offers boutique glasses at a revolutionary price. Glasses start at $95, including prescription lenses. Lens options include anti-glare, anti-scratch coatings, and even blue light filtering coatings. Download the Warby Parker app on your iPhoneX to try on glasses virtually. Or, get 5 pairs shipped directly to you so you can try them on in person with the In-Home Try On Kit. To order your free in-home  try on kit, go to WarbyParker.com/Yogaland.

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Episode 143: Full-Time or Part-Time? Things to Consider as You Forge Your Teaching Path

teaching yoga full-time or part-time | yoga quote by Jason Crandell

In this episode, Jason breaks down what he sees as some of the pros and cons of teaching full-time vs. teaching part-time. The bottom line is this: There’s not one right choice, but no matter whichever direction you choose, there are some challenges to overcome. (And if you’re considering becoming a yoga teacher because you think it would be an easy, relaxed lifestyle, well, you might want to reconsider.)

Here are a few of the things we discuss:

* Jason debunks the myth that yoga teachers have an easy work-life balance and explains why it’s so challenging to make a living as a yoga teacher.

* How being a yoga teacher has changed in the 20 years Jason’s been teaching.

* One of the biggest mistakes Jason sees yoga teachers make when they market themselves. Hint: It has to do with social media.

* Part-time teacher? Say it loud and proud.

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Episode 121: Ideas for Building Your Business (And Your Confidence!) as a Yoga Teacher

Episode 87: Jason’s Sequencing Philosophy, Thoughts on Retaining Students & Hip Impingement

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. 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.

3. 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 140: Embrace Your Imperfect Best with Jason Freeman

Jason Freeman quote | Yogaland Podcast

This week’s episode is a special interview with public speaker and yogi Jason Freeman. Jason has a speech impediment due to cerebral palsy, which he was born with. He talks about how being different impacted him from an early age and how his yoga practice helped him to embrace his “imperfect best” as he puts it.

Also on this episode is Jamie Martin, Jason’s yoga teacher, who shares her insights about how to create an inclusive environment in the yoga room.

This episode is a must for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider and everyone who hopes to make yoga studios a more welcoming place for people from all backgrounds and abilities.

Here are some highlights:
*How Jason F. ended up in his first yoga class, and how the practice of yoga helped him learn to accept himself and feel better in his body

*Jason’s advice for yoga students about how to feel more comfortable and connect with their teachers

*Jamie speaks about how to help all students feel welcome and included and not singled out for their different abilities

*We talk about the many  ways yoga teachers can make a lasting impact on their students without ever knowing it

*Plus, Jason talks about how Handstand became a goal for him, and what shifted once he finally learned to do the pose

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Get a transcript of this episode

Jason Freeman website

Jason Freeman TEDx Talk

Jamie Martin Lee’s website

Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best by Jason Freeman

Jason Freeman sizzle reel

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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