Here’s a question I recently received from a newbie yoga teacher, who had just got my Yoga Genie Lesson Planner…
“Hi George, What a plethora of great information in the Yoga Genie Lesson Planner!! I’m a new yoga teacher and am wondering where or what you would suggest I start with. There’s so much great stuff that I don’t know what to pick or where to start. Thanks.”
My reply was
“Hi Teresa, Thanks for your email and kind words. I’d recommend you start creating some lesson plans using the Yoga Genie Lesson Planner. Just remember there’s no right way of a planning an adult or kids yoga class. There’s only your way. Have the courage to allow your personality to shine through. The only rule of yoga lesson planning is that if you’re teaching flowing yoga (Yang Yoga) that the flow is a graceful one. You don’t want your students going from seated pose to a standing pose to a seated pose. That isn’t a flowing, dance-like movement. It’s more of a jerking, chaotic movement. The good thing about using the Yoga Genie Lesson Planner is that each pose has a recommended preparation and follow up pose which makes it really easy to create a flowing sequence. When creating a yoga lesson plan for my own yoga classes, I follow the mantra Start Slow And Grow A Flow. I start slowly with yin poses (static) and when I feel my students are ready, I start the yang (flow). Have fun creating a bunch of yoga lesson plans and see what you come up with the Yoga Genie Lesson Planner.”
Once I’ve created a yoga lesson plan I follow these steps
Print. Fold. Pocket
I print, fold, and put the lesson plan in my back pocket.
Throughout the day I get my folded yoga lesson plan out of my pocket and visualize myself teaching the class.
This is a technique I learned as a professional golfer. I learned this from Jack Nicklaus (from one of his books). If you don’t know much about golf, Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer who has ever played the game. Jack’s top-secret was that he visualized playing 18 holes the night before a tournament. For example, the night before The Master’s Tournament he would visualize himself playing each and every hole at Augusta.
But Jack isn’t the only one practicing visualization. Every single Olympic champion uses visualization to enhance their performance! The reason is simple. It works. I’ve discovered that visualizing myself teaching a yoga class while glancing at my yoga lesson plan is far more effective than physically practicing a yoga lesson plan.
If I physically practice the yoga lesson plan, it will take me approximately an hour. That means I can only practice it once. With visualization you can practice the yoga class dozens of times within your mind, and with each visualization you encode the plan into every cell in your body so you don’t have to think during the class. Top golfers who are able to play without thinking are said to be in the zone (peak performance).
It’s the same when teaching a yoga class!
If you haven’t taken the time to visualize the lesson you’ve created, your class will be a little wooden, a little flat, a little dull. Here’s the thing. Your students will know that you’re winging it. Winging it never works. Never. Never. Never. It might sound good. Winging it might sound like something an experienced yoga teacher would do, but in actuality, an experienced yoga teacher would never come to a class unprepared. And neither would a top professional golfer. It would be utterly unthinkable to them. And it’s the same with any top performer in any field.
Take Winston Churchill for example. He is regarded as one of the finest speechmakers of all time. Did he “wing” his speeches. Never. Not once. Every word, every sentence, even page would be toiled over. The great thing about visualization is that it isn’t toil. It isn’t hard work. It’s a lot of fun using your imagination. It’s effortless. It’s easy. And it’s amazing what ideas will pop into your head when visualizing your lesson plan.
So, to recap.
The next time you create a yoga lesson plan, print it out, fold it up, and put it in your pocket.
Then, whenever you have a few seconds spare (standing in a supermarket queue, sitting on the toilet, boiling the kettle, etc) take it out of your pocket and spend a few seconds visualizing yourself in great detail teaching the class.
See the faces of your students. Smell the venue. See yourself greeting and chatting to your students as they arrive. See yourself give a modification to Jenny when you get to downward facing dog because she has a wrist injury.
You see yourself going over to her and saying:
“Jenny, dolphin pose will take the pressure off your wrists.”
Then you get on the floor next to her and demonstrate dolphin pose. You then see yourself giving her an adjustment while she’s in dolphin pose. You stand in front of Jenny, place your feet in a mini-lunge and put both palms on the her sacrum, and begin guiding it upward. And so on….
Put On Mat
When I get to my class, the first thing I do is unfold my yoga mat and unfold my yoga lesson plan and place it on the front of my mat.
If, however, you still think you should be winging it and not taking a yoga lesson plan into class with you, try and find a top-class conductor who goes into a packed concert hall without their notes.
Try and find one top-class orator making a speech without their notes.
Actually, you’ll find one.
It was Ed Miliband at the 2014 Labour Party conference. Ed didn’t take any notes and subsequently forgot important parts of his keynote speech. It was an amateurish mistake and one that will probably cost him the next election. Why put yourself under unnecessary pressure by going into your yoga class without a yoga lesson plan?