Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yoga Class Planning

I know there are some styles of yoga that work from a static template and others that get modified based on the teacher, but even the pre-programmed classes have to give a little based on who's actually in the class. As a teacher, you'll have your plan and then you'll be with your group and the plan may need to be adjusted.

"Planning is priceless, plans are useless," is one of the phrases I learned a long time ago.

I received an inquiry from a participant in my upcoming Mother Daughter workshop at Omega about the amount of time we'll be doing seated meditation compared to postures. I replied with something like, "we'll do some seated meditation but I don't expect it will be for too long because half of the group will be kids and I'll work with the group." Offering an hour-long sit isn't in my plan for that workshop even though some of the kids might be able to do it. From my experience, kids won't enjoy sitting for that long in a yoga workshop and neither will the grownups!

On the other side, an old student came to class last night who hadn't been in a long time, so she hadn't been to the class since I switched it from a Beginning Yoga class, which was basically the same every time, to a Yoga and Meditation class, which has a new predictability. She's someone who I knew came to the class in part because the routine was count-on-able. I let her know in advance that the class had changed somewhat and I felt a bit bad that'd I'd changed it because I knew she liked it the way it was. She did great and I think it all worked out well. In that case though, I wasn't really prepared to not do the longer meditation because that structure was established and the class had that as a theme, not to mention there were lot of other people in the class. I was committed to that plan, but was aware that it might not work for everybody.

Being committed to the plan versus being attached to it is one way to look at how it could be. For the Mother Daughter Yoga workshop I'm not even really committed to the plan but rather to the delivery of an experience or opportunities for an experience. The plan might go out the window when I see who shows up. 8 year olds are quite different than 13 year olds and their relationships with their mothers are often in different stages. So different activities may be appropriate for the group.

The trick is to be sensitive to the group and to really know your stuff so you can adjust and for extra bonus points, which will translate into a better group experience, is to make it seem seamless to your students. Taking your plan and making a big production of tearing it up in front of them isn't necessary, although there may be times when that's the thing to do! But having the confidence that comes with being responsible for your group will make your teaching experience satisfying. You'll be ready for anything.

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