Word for the weekend: Inclusive
Yoga is for everyone!
And because of this, taking others experience in your yoga class into consideration is critical. Embracing inclusivity is what weekend #8 was all about. What is that person going through? Where are they coming from?
You may never really know the answers to the questions and that doesn’t matter. Having the true feeling and understanding that everyone who comes into your class is welcome is where it’s at. Yoga doesn’t discriminate and neither should the teachers.
This is one of my favorite topics not just as a yoga teacher in training but as a marketing coach for yoga teachers. You might think that this fact of “yoga is for everyone” would negate my passion for niching down but it’s actually the opposite. Because yoga is for everyone, that is more reason to truly embrace the class and/or the population that you have a deep desire to teach because you CAN teach just that and there is a need for what you can provide as a specialized yoga teacher.
(Okay, I’ll step down from my soap box and put my yoga teacher in training hat back on – hehe. But if you want to niche down, get the free guide by entering your info below)
Back to the good stuff…what I learned about being inclusive as a yoga teacher:
Trauma Informed Yoga Deserves All The Praise Hands
I have such an interest in this. During my yoga teacher training journey, I have naturally picked up on the cues and really like the idea of being sensitive with words. This who idea feels precious to me and I’m really looking forward to exploring that. I want to get the special certification already!
We learned how the body works emotionally and how our body naturally responds to situations. We learned all about the Polyvagal Theory which says that our body responds perfectly to all situations because it’s goal is to save our lives. There’s a lot more to it than that instead of me trying to explain it, I will point you to the place where Stephen Porges, the creator of this theory, explains it.
Taking into account that we have all encountered trauma in our lives is important due the simple fact that we were born. That in and of itself is a traumatic experience. Plus, the majority of us have several other traumatic experiences that have happened to us over the course of our lives. We will never know all the words that might trigger someone in a yoga class but the idea of being sensitive to the words you use as a yoga teacher will certainly help.
OMG, I love it! I only learned one pose but have been practicing it ever since learning it. Truly, truly amazing stuff. We all need this and I already have so many ideas for workshops on this. Well, I can’t take all the credit on the ideas…it was actually my husband who had many ideas.
I’m writing this blog admittedly later than I typically do but because of that I can share an experience that I had putting what I learned into practice. We were taught one pose in class and I brought that one pose home with me. My husband happened to have a pretty stressful day at work and I told him I needed to practice putting someone in this pose. Which was true BUT I totally did it because he was stressed. So I told him it would take about 10 minutes for him to get into the pose and then he was going to lay there for 20 minutes. Needless to say he was curious but not super pumped about the length of time. Well, after just a few minutes he said that 20 minutes wasn’t going to be long enough – haha! Here’s the recap of me putting him into the pose 2 different times:
Took about 10 minutes to get him settled into the pose
Took about 20 minutes for him to truly settle and stop talking
He stayed in the pose for 45 minutes
After I got him out of the pose he went to bed and was asleep within 5 minutes
Took about 10 minutes to get him settled (he wanted to be put in the pose in bed this time so it was different)
Took him about 2 minutes to get settled and stop talking
He stayed in the pose for 45 minutes
After he rolled out of the pose (since he was already in bed) he was asleep before I put the props away!
All in all, he’s a believer and he text me the next day and said “I have never felt so rested”. This was after just 2 days of this! Then he started brainstorming ideas for restorative yoga workshops and he wants me to learn more. He and I are hooked!
Chair Yoga Is Hard!
But so good! We had a great teacher with profound stories to tell about how yoga has helped so many. She works at a facility that takes care of many people in wheelchairs or that are experiencing cerebral palsy or paralysis. She showed us videos of students who had been practicing breath work and “sending the breath to the paralyzed body part” and when it actually worked. I saw a leg move that hadn’t been able to move on it’s own in years! Needless to say there were tears when we watched this.
Also, chair yoga is hard! It was so much more challenging than anyone expected which was great for me to experience. I tried modifying a regular class with a chair one day in YTT several weeks ago and it was really tough for me. Mainly mentally but it was also physically challenging and it was nice to hear that I wasn’t the only one who thought that.
We laughed a ton in this session and there is a theme to this. As part of my YTT I had to observe 5 classes and I chose chair yoga as one of my classes and you know what, it was the most fun! The ladies that were in the class were a hoot and they had so much fun in class. I think there is something to the idea that once you ‘let yourself’ be okay with the idea of chair yoga, you enjoy the heck out of it. Plus, I think the teachers are just awesome. You must have to have a special heart and sense of humor for it. All I can say is that it was a great class to learn from!
Vocal Cueing – It’s Important But Not Serious
Our teacher for this lesson challenged me in not taking notes during the class. That was HARD for me, the super note-taker. But she said, “I want you to hear it and really take in the information. Plus, I will send you my notes.” So I did. I listened and learned. I was able to take in her tone and words in a different way but I don’t think I’m converted to being a non-note-taker.
One thing she said really stuck out in my mind, especially since we were talking about cueing and using words to help students know what to do with their body. She said:
“It doesn’t matter if the cue lands or not. It’s their experience that matters.”
She went on to say of course you want to notice and learn from each class you teach, but don’t get thrown off if something doesn’t land. Don’t take it so seriously. So many new yoga teachers (speaking to me here!) are so worried about the words that the emotion doesn’t come through. Focus on the feelings, the sensations and then help them get there.
She then shared with us that in order for us to have great cues and vocal tone that we need to….get ready for it…
Teach the class that you want to teach! Teach the class that you would teach even if no one showed up!
AMEN! I almost jumped up and started dancing. This brought it all home for me. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this, yoga is for everyone and that actually helps my point of how yoga teachers can teach what they love and still have a class filled with people. And this further solidifies this point. If you teach what you love, your students will feel it in your words.
Take mine in this blog for example, I raved about restorative yoga and said I had ideas for classes. You haven’t heard me say that about a power vinyasa class did you? No, because that’s not what lights me up and guess what…that’s okay. Its better than okay, it’s awesome.
So yes, yoga is inclusive and is for everyone but let’s tap into what we have a deep passion for as teachers and teach what we love so we can share that passion with others! Can I get an Amen?!
I was really preaching there for a minute – I hope you enjoyed that! I sure did!
All that to say, if you are reading this and you are a new yoga teacher, you likely aren’t sure what you love yet. Or maybe you think you do. Regardless, I truly believe that you need to say ‘yes’ to teaching classes that you don’t know if you like or even think you don’t like to get a better idea of what you have a passion for. It might surprise you. Think of it like dating – you had to date multiple people to figure out what you like and don’t like. So teach classes like that too. Make note of what you like and don’t like and then start saying yes to more of what lights you up.
Until next time,
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