Teaching Methodology

Put together a 60 minute beginner’s sequence using the poses you’ve done Reference Sheets for (as well as other poses as you see fit).

  1. Do the sequence. How does it feel? Change anything that is awkward.
  2. Teach the sequence to someone else, even if it’s just the dog. Record the class on your phone or on zoom.
  3. Use the recording to take the class — you are the student to the teacher on the recording now.
  4. Not the fillers, the unclear areas. If you didn’t make at least five “mistakes,” do it all again and make it harder 🙂
  5. Report back about this whole process.

In order to assemble the poses that we’ve studied so far into what felt like a coherent order, I found that I needed to draw each pose, to get a visual sense of the lines of force and flow expressed through each asana. The words on the pages of the reference sheet felt flat, but the act of drawing each pose seemed to help me to feel into the way they might relate to one another and progress in a way that makes sense.

I used a basic sun salutation as the core to organize the rest around and arrived at a sequence that felt good and complete. A few days into the exercise my lower back got a little tender and I found I needed to modify the first sequence I had developed to meet the specific needs and limitations of a particular moment in time.

Of course watching oneself on video presenting a “class” for the first time is something of a rude shock. Getting past the surface surprises (Do I really look like that? Oh my god, my plank’s not straight, etc.), what was most revelatory was my vocal pacing and style. We had done an exercise during one of our previous weekends on the elements that are most natural for us to express and how those elemental energies might come through in our speaking. An Ayurvedic analysis reveals I have a fairly fiery and airy nature, but as I watched myself speaking to an imaginary class, I found that my words tended to roll out in a definitively watery way!

Part of that may have been due to that mysterious inner process of hunting for words, with the pauses, “fishing”, repetitions, slurs and stumbles that go with that process. In a flash of brilliance, I realized that one of the things that we should be using those reference sheets for is to work out our go-to phrases for talking someone into and through a given pose. Later in the week I took an online class from Danni Pomplun and noted the smoothness and precision of his vocal delivery. Relaxed and casual, but very steady and clear.

I came away from the whole thing with two thoughts: One, a great sense of relief that I’m not aspiring to teach hatha yoga in a yoga studio class setting, and two, a new found respect for the amount of study and work it takes to not only do the practice but to be able to describe it with precision and guide others through it with clarity and ease. (And breathe while doing all of that!) Respect for all of the amazing teachers out there doing just that!