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How To Teach A Class To Both Beginners & Advanced Yogis

Do you recognise this?

 

You go off to teach an all levels class and you end up having a room full of super experienced yogis (including a few teachers, eek!) plus 2 beginners. Or: you prepared an advanced flow as your Wednesday evening class is visited mostly by experienced yogis but today you only have 5 complete beginners in front of you.

This can throw you off balance, but don’t worry: below are my top 3 tips for when this happens.

I find these 3 things key to having both structure & flow in my way of teaching: I do prepare but I’m open to change if needed. This prevents me from teaching something the students I have in front of me don’t need, but it also allows me to still teach a structured sequence instead of an improvised (= risky ;) one.

 

  1. Change the Vinyasas:

If your group ends up looking different than you expected, the easiest way to adjust it to all levels is to change the vinyasas.

There are so many ways to Vinyasa, so get out of the idea that it’s just plank, chaturanga, updog. It can also be hands & knees, half chaturanga, sitting on knees with backbend, downdog, for example.

To make it more challenging: add side plank on both sides before chaturanga and keep on adding kramas / more advanced variations in each round (side plank with knee down, then up, then tree in side plank, then full side plank catching the big toe)

To make it more accessible: give 3 options with each vinyasa: to go to child’s pose, stay in downward dog or practice the most basic vinyasa together with them (I would choose planks, lowering down through hands & knees, cobra since it’s a good base for later vinyasas). Avoid saying ‘now take a Vinyasa’ when you only have beginners in your class as they don’t know what this means.

 

  1. Use Kramas

As you might know I’m all about having one peak pose in your class that you work up to and than counterbalance on your way to savasana. Especially for beginners (but honestly for all students : ) it’s essential to build up to the peal slowly.

That’s where kramas come in. In order to make the peak pose feel effortless, you need to visit it in a less full expression at least once or twice before.

So let’s say you had crow pose in mind as your peak. You can first

 

  1. Challenge Your Students To Do Less : )

Now this one might sound counterintuitive, but bare with me for a moment.

Most people in this society are used to doing more, all. the. time. They have to overperform at work in order to keep their job, they have to rush to work or university, might be inspired to do extreme diets and, let’s be honest, most people work out too hard.

 

So why would we encourage our students to keep that ‘doing more’ habit, even in yoga?

 

Let’s encourage them to do less. As this we all know will help them to get out of their fight or flight mode. This will do two things:

  1. It will make the class accessible for all levels because you’re giving a more simple option and keep your students there
  2. It will help your more advanced students to go beyond the physical depth of the pose (some might be ‘performing’ or even showing off without being aware of it) and go more into the depth of awareness of the pose

 

Try it simply by saying: ‘I know you can do more, but can you do less?’

 

I hope you found this helpful. If so, please share it with your teacher friends : )

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