Yoga Teacher Training – Giving Cues

I am coming up on the 5th training weekend (out of 11 total).  I feel prepared for this weekend.  I am starting to know what to expect, what to pack (snacks, yoga bolster to sit on, etc).  This is almost the halfway point so I am practicing as much as possible.  I was able to get a 15-minute sequence to music completed and I feel good about it.  I have started working on my one hour sequence.  I have found that video taping myself doing yoga while saying the cues per pose is helpful.  I can see what I am saying and how much I am repeating.  The studio has a formula for giving cues.  Breath (Inhale or Exhale) + Posture Name (can just be in English or also provide Sanskrit name as well).  Then you do Action Verb + Your Body Part + Direction/Location.  After you get the students in the correct anatomical position, then you can add in some energy line or inspirational cues (also called advanced cues).  Being able to say these quickly is very difficult.  Plus you want to be creative and not repeat the same action verb over and over again (aka yoga parrot).  I know with time and practice it will flow.  But right now I can say about one good cue and then blank out what else to say that is original and not just repeating the same thing like engage your core!  In order to really feel comfortable, I literally have to write out all of the cues per pose and repeat it to myself (aka memorize it).  Current teachers say it will become natural and preparing for a class becomes easier.  I trust them since this happens with everything in life.  I was driving the other day and I recalled when I was 15 with my drivers permit and how driving seemed so overwhelming.  I had to look in mirrors, see what drivers did around me, knew where I was going, pay attention to signs, etc.  Now I get in the car and it is super easy and natural.  I do laugh when some students say, “I think it will just click one day and I will just know how to cue.  I will find my teacher voice one day.  It will just come to me.”  My response is, “Sure you will…with much dedication, time, practice and commitment you can make it look like you magically just became a fantastic teacher.”

Examples:

Exhale Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

  • Spread your fingers wide on the mat
  • Align your neck with your spine
  • Draw your shoulder blades together and down your back
  • Feel energy move from your tailbone to your heels as they sink to the Earth

Exhale Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana)

  • Align your shoulder on the inside of your knee
  • Press the blade edge of your back foot firmly into the mat
  • Keep your hips parallel to the front of your mat
  • Notice how you feel both strong and surrendered in this pose

I was able to meet with a student from last year’s training class as she prepared for her audition (aka a yoga teacher’s job interview, a 15-min sequence to the leads of a studio).  We really got along so well and look forward to practicing again.  It has been a real blessing to meet kind, supportive and lovely individuals through yoga.  It is really a little community you build as you form your practice, especially because of teacher training.  I have been enjoying the workshops around the area at other studios.  I definitely see myself attending more workshops in the future, even after training is completed.  They are not very expensive for non-members and they are packed full of information.  I would recommend to anyone who is considering expanding their yoga practice to search online for workshops in their area and take a couple.  You end up learning so much in a session, it is worth the time and money.  Some are also less about the movements and more about the philosophical and spiritual benefits of yoga.  Which means even if you are not currently practicing the yoga poses, you can still benefit from the workshops.

Since I am almost halfway, I started to observe classes.  This means taking notes in the back of a yoga room while you listen to what the teacher is saying and watch as he/she demonstrates the poses for the class, provided hands on assistance and overall movements in room.  The teachers all have the same type of room setup, similar music and flow to the class.  This is mainly because the studio has recommendations and standards that are followed.  However, each teacher does have a personal style.  Getting to the point here – some just talk too much!  It is like, “Excuse me, can you stop talking for a minute?  I am trying to do yoga over here!”  I like to throw in some zippy lines to make the class smile or some inspirational cues like pulling in energy through your fingertips or opening up the heart Chakra.  But I keep this lightly sprinkled in and would not say something constantly.  It is overwhelming to hear so many inspirational quotes and open ended questions in class.  It is too much for the mind to process.  Quiet time is also very necessary in a yoga practice.  You need to draw inward, reflect, relax and think about items which come up naturally.  It totally stresses me out when you cannot even hear the music or your own thoughts because the teacher is not taking a breath.  So currently my teaching style is very concise and to the point.  I like to leave silence spaces.  Since all teachers are different, you can find ones that you mesh with and can enjoy their class.  That is why I am so sad when I hear anyone say they tried one yoga class and then gave up because it was not a good experience.  It could have been that the teacher that day was not a good fit for what they needed.  It is like if you stopped dating and gave up on all relationships after one bad date experience.  I encourage anyone who did have a bad experience to either try a different teacher or different studio.  Also chat with those around you who do yoga and get their honest feedback.  I would also recommend to try a beginners level at a studio.  Even if your practice has been going on for years, it is interesting to see how a studio handles a level one type class.  You should leave feeling supported and encouraged.  Never overwhelmed or stressed out.

Namaste and I will be writing soon after this training weekend!