Friday, October 16, 2015

Teaching Yoga Is Unlike Anything I've Ever Done!

Today I taught my first 60 minute yoga class. I spent weeks planning the asana sequence, timing the breaths, counting the in-between spaces. More hours choosing an exactly timed playlist, even calling upon my beau to assist with a recommended playlist, knowing he has a better grasp of recording artists who create primarily instrumental tracks.

I deconstructed every yoga class recording I had. I was attempting to distill the essence of what makes a good yoga sequence and a rewarding yoga class.

What I can tell you is that there is no app that can make sequencing easier (at least not for free or one that works offline), there are no hard fast rules for how long you should hold Warrior I versus the first Utkatasana. I came up with some general guidelines based on the excellent classes I've taken at Breath and Body Yoga in Austin TX.

Online resources:

I took class audio recordings and put them through a speech to text translator, creating a written transcript of an excellent yoga class/sequence. With this transcript, I could see how many words fill the spaces where we are holding poses and breathing. I had practiced at home many times to these video/audio classes but I had never actually watched the video to see how the instructors words are landing with the students. As I began to dissect a class recording and note what pose we were in (including drawing my own stick figures) and counting how many breaths we were taking in while in the pose, I realized how many students make time for fixing their pony tails or straightening out their mat towel for the tenth time (guilty as charged!).

Armed with this timeline information I created a spreadsheet which I used to keep track of each pose and how long each pose would take, or should take to equal out to a 60 (or any other variant) minute long class. I also resisted the temptation to copy the class pose for pose (that was hard!).

Each time I would practice the planned sequence at home, it never seemed to add up to 60 minutes. I wasn't talking myself through each pose out loud when going through the asanas, but I probably should have - so speaking the verbal alignment cues would be familiar.

Turns out when teaching this sequence for real at Jai Dee Yoga in Tampa, I had to cut a couple of poses for sake of time. A couple of asanas got done out of the planned sequence, but nobody was the wiser.

Of course, doing all of this pre-planning is completely overkill for preparing to teach an hour long yoga class, but as they say "How you do anything is how you do everything". I typically break things down into their smallest common denominator (the breath in this case) and then figure out how best to put it all back together. 

Now I know that I have a solid foundation for building, time checking and playlist creating for the next opportunity to teach on the mat. I made an audio recording of my first time teaching and I'll post it once I've checked the audio levels.

Also, sticking the printed sequence on the wall to look at while teaching was a great help!

Here's the sequence in an image layout: