Are you using those downloadable yoga class templates to prepare your class? You might be short-changing your students. While these tools can be inspiring, here are three good reasons not to use them:
- The MacDonald’s Effect
Did you know that in the past 80 years we’ve lost 93% of variety in our food seeds? That means we are now only eating 7% of the fruit and vegetable varieties that were once commercially available to us. Why has this happened? Standardisation of modern industrial agriculture. The rise of online yoga class tools could be described as modern industrial yoga-culture. None of these online tools can offer access to the rich diversity of yoga practices that have been developed over thousands of years. All you get is a small section of available tools and this process of standardization could, like our food seeds, lead to diminished diversity. That would be a crying shame for any yoga teacher, but for Yoga Therapists, this seriously limits your ability to develop effective therapeutic practices.
- Boring, boring, boring
There are tens of thousands of yoga teachers out there. If you’re using online class planning tools, you can bet everybody else is, too. With ever increasing numbers of yoga teachers offering an ever diminishing number of standardised practices, the result is going to be a lot of classes that look and feel fundamentally the same. Yawn.
- Teach people, not poses
If you’re planning your yoga classes by thinking ‘what can I teach today’, you’re doing it all wrong. Your students don’t need you to teach themes or poses. They need you to teach THEM! That means figuring out what your students need and then developing a practice that meets those needs. You should be taking into account their ages, physical abilities, injuries, stress levels, lifestyle, preferences and experience as well as environmental factors such as time of day, time of year, the space you’re teaching in and the weather. No online tool is clever enough to figure out a practice that’s best suited to your students on any particular day. Only you can do that.
Planning a yoga class is much more nuanced that choreographing postures. Too many modern yoga classes are simply a series of postures sequenced to flow together. While that can feel nice to practice, it only represents a tiny fraction of what yoga has to offer. It’s like inviting your students to a banquet and only giving them bread rolls when they arrive.
The Yoga Therapy approach to class planning
That isn’t to say you should never use templates. On the contrary, we use templates all the time at Adore Yoga. The main planning template we use is to help yoga teachers and therapists prepare their classes and workshops. Teachers start by carefully analyzing their students’ needs (in yoga therapy, we do this using a specialised intake form that looks at a student’s health through the lenses of the doshas, koshas, kleshas, vayus and more), the class/workshop planning template walks teachers through several distinct stages. This includes:
- Pinpointing learning outcomes
- Defining the purpose of the lesson
- Explaining how the learning outcomes are important/helpful
- Building on learning from previous classes/workshops
- Deciding which props/equipment you need
- Optimising room layout
- Breaking down the class into progressive stages
- Highlighting key teaching points
- Deciding which techniques and poses will be used to deliver learning outcomes
- How to determine whether students have achieved the learning outcomes
- Summarising the class/workshop intention
- Safety considerations
This kind of careful planning keeps your classes and workshops relevant to the needs of your students. It asks you to be clear about what you’re teaching and why. It encourages you to be creative in finding ways to deliver those learning outcomes. It starts with an intention and then builds a practice around that intention, giving the session depth and meaning. Most importantly of all, it places your students and their needs at the heart of the planning process. When you rely on digital planning tools for inspiration, you’re more likely to prioritise a theme, concept, pose or technique ahead of the personalised needs of your students.
Next time you develop a class or workshop for your students, start by thinking about their needs, then try going through this planning process to help your students learn in a more structured, effective and satisfying way.
To help you do that, we’re making the Adore Yoga Class and Workshop Planning Template freely available. Download it now!
Nikola Ellis is the founder of Adore Yoga, yoga therapist, counsellor and teacher trainer. She conducts regular trainings that help people of all ages, shapes and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation, including Meditation Facilitator Certificate Trainings; Level 1 200hr Teacher Training and Post Graduate Yoga Teacher Training in Mental Health, Adaptive Asana and the Foundations of Yoga Therapy and a highly regarded professional 650hr Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy.