One of the biggest challenges we face as yoga teachers is knowing how to continually engage and inspire our students; how to keep up our confidence as teachers; how to really know that our classes are landing; and knowing whether we are giving our students the kind of experience that really makes a difference in their lives.

Straight up: I’m writing this today because I want to help you implement the process we use in planning our classes to meet these challenges and for you to be able to deliver a remarkable yoga class.

1. Teach from Intention.

The most effective teachers do this naturally.  Intention informs and guides actions – consciously or unconsciously. This is true for every human endeavor, but it particularly applies to teaching.  Begin by stepping back and clarifying your OVERALL intention as a teacher.  Ask yourself, “Why am I choosing to be a teacher? Do I have a passion to share something in particular?”

2. Use a specific intention for each and every class

For any given class, know what your intention is for that class.  Begin by deciding the skills you want your students to acquire — what they are learning ‘to do.’  Then, identify the specific knowledge you want them to take away – what they are learning ‘to understand.’  Finally, consider what you want them to become aware of-what do you want them ‘to see more clearly?’

3. Connect

Seth Godin, a marketing guru and author of many books including Tribes, suggests that we are tribal by nature.  We like to belong. And to feel like we belong, we need to connect. Be mindful of this as a teacher and create connection through community or Sangha, (the Sanskrit word for community), in your classes. This usually comes about from you being there in service, speaking in ways that connect, and doing the kinds of things that make it easy for students to connect with you as well as each other.

4. Give Added Value

Beyond the obvious physical benefits, yoga has the potential to literally change your student’s life. One of the best ways to give added value is in supporting students in taking their yoga experience on the mat and applying it directly to their lives.  At the same time, it is important to be sure that the nature and the direction of that application comes from the student and not the teacher.  Your job, as the teacher is to help students uncover their own truth and put that into action.  This requires an approach similar to that outlined below with regard to the practice of andragogy.

5. Learn the difference between pedagogy and andragogy

As a young school teacher — many decades ago — I held the belief that teaching was about standing in a class room full of children who didn’t know what I know.  My job was to deliver a defined curriculum and, I hoped to God, they would learn it.  Most teachers use this pedagogical approach — which was modeled to us as children.  It has been proven that adults learn more effectively through an approach, developed by Malcolm Knowles, known as andragogy, which is based on the humanistic concept that adults are self-directed and autonomous learners.  Therefore, a more effective teaching style is to become facilitators of learning rather than dispensers of information.  In this way, students become collaborators rather than objects of their learning process.

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