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Back to Basics: The Lowdown on Teaching Beginner’s Yoga

As a teacher at a popular yoga studio in Miami Beach, I have new people coming through my classes all the time.

Sometimes they catch on quickly, other times they don’t. However, one thing is for sure–you as a teacher play a huge role in how much or how little your students learn after each class.

Having been on both sides of the spectrum, both as a newbie and as a teacher, I have learned a thing or two about teaching new students.

Below are eight tips for making the most out of someone’s first yoga class.

1. Introduce yourself.

Beautiful sports people are sitting in lotus position and smiling while doing yoga with a trainer in modern fitness hall

Walking into your first yoga class is like venturing into a whole new world. It’s important to try and make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. The way you treat a guest in your home is the way you should treat a new yoga student.

If you see a new face come into the studio, go up to them and introduce yourself. If you can’t introduce yourself individually, introduce yourself to the entire class before you begin teaching.

2. Be crystal clear.

Make sure your language and directions are impeccably clear. Everyone wants to learn and feel when they come into a yoga class, help each person feel accomplished by giving clear directions. It’s important for everyone to understand the correct way to get into a pose so they feel safe and comfortable.

3. Make yourself visible.

Beautiful sports people are sitting in lotus position while doing yoga in modern fitness hall

If you are demonstrating a pose, make sure your students can see and hear you. Since many beginners tend to shy away and sit toward the back of the room, it’s important to make sure they are following along properly.

Also, don’t forget to give yourself time to walk around and correct people if they need help. Don’t be afraid to offer professional advice and guidance so they can get better in the future.

4. Consider your sequencing.

Say you’re teaching a vinyasa yoga class and you’ve planned for several arm balance poses. But once you show up, you find out you have a room full of first-timers, then maybe you simplify your flow a bit or workshop a basic arm balance sequence so it’s easier for them to follow along.

5. Begin with breath.

Side view of beautiful sports people sitting in lotus position while doing yoga in modern fitness hall

Cover the basics of ujjayi breath and any other pranayama exercises you can think of. Many people believe it’s only about getting the asana correct, but it’s also important to share with them the foundation of the yoga practice. If your new students should walk away with anything, it’s the practice of breathing.

6. Don’t skip the good stuff.

Supine Spinal Twist, Legs Up the Wall pose, and Child’s pose are all poses that can help a new student feel great and confident. Help newbies incorporate a strap or block to make the shapes more accessible for them.

Also, if you want your new student to revisit your class again, give them some attention in Savasana.

If there’s something you normally would do during final relaxation, such as a foot rub or a dab of essential oil, make sure not to skip your new students. They will walk away feeling amazing and revitalized.

7. Thank them for coming.

As teachers, new students help us as much as we help them. Stick around for a few minutes after class and thank them for taking part in the class. Ask them if they have any questions or concerns that might have come up during the class.

New students are a reminder that we teach yoga to pass it along to others—what greater gift is there than being able to share yoga practice with everyone?

Amy Dannheim
Amy Dannheim
A creative leader in the Miami yoga community, Amy Dannheim is passionate about yoga, plant-based recipes and healthy living. With her degree in journalism from the University of Florida, Amy is a yoga writer and blogger as well as the co-host for Radio 1Om8, a weekly live yoga radio show. After years of working with lululemon, Amy established herself as the go-to person for yoga consulting in Miami, with her finger on the pulse of the yoga community. When she’s not strategizing or cooking, Amy teaches dynamic vinyasa yoga classes that are layered with hip-hop and spirituality, drawing inspiration from her frequent travels. Amy sits on the Green Monkey Yoga teacher training faculty and leads regular workshops and innovative events throughout South Florida. Amy is also a VitaCoco and Funky Yoga ambassador and has appeared on the pages of Wall Street Journal, on lululemon.com and shape.com. She lives in Miami Beach with her husband and fellow yogi, Mike, where they run their bike centric community & clothing company Purdy Ave. Follow her blog at www.miamyyoga.com or find her adventures on Instagram @miamy.

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