The time after yoga teacher training can feel strange. On one hand, you want to continue teaching exactly as you learned and feel safe with old familiar lesson patterns. On the other hand, you want to break out and develop a style all your own, putting an individual stamp on your lessons.
Then, once you’ve been teaching for a while, you often have your own lessons that you give over and over again, so you sometimes feel bored with your own concepts.
As both a new and experienced yoga teacher, lesson planning is essential if you don’t want to feel like a broken record. A framework of five simple steps can help you.
What is the level of the students?
This is the first question you should ask yourself. If you’re teaching a clearly named, level-based course, the situation is clear. However, if you are teaching a specially designed course or workshop based on something other than level, you need to ask yourself what audience you are targeting. Who is your course or workshop for? Is the topic appropriate for beginners as well as advanced learners? Who do you prefer to teach?
What is the topic?
Speaking of the topic, what is the “theme” of your class or workshop? What is the focus? Maybe you give a lesson on “Yoga for the back”. Perhaps you have planned a lesson from a spiritual or Ayurvedic point of view. Keep point 1 in mind when choosing – not every theme is suitable for every level.
Which asanas fit that topic?
Each asana has physical, mental and energetic effects. Which ones fit your theme? Gather a selection of asanas that particularly support the goal you want to achieve with your lesson.
You link these asanas together in an intelligent way so that transitions make sense. This means: include more energizing asanas during the warm-up and less before Savasana; and make sure that the transitions are as smooth as possible (even if they are held for a long time!), so that the students don’t have to constantly get up from the floor to stand and back again. If necessary, incorporate asanas for filling, so that the practitioners stay well in the flow. Always take into account balancing positions and include enough time for tracing at the appropriate point.
The framework of your class is now in place – time for the details that will make your class more than just a series of physical exercises.
Start with a short introduction, a so-called “Dharma Talk”, in which you explain concisely, but clearly and sensitively, what the goal of this lesson is for you. Feel free to make a personal reference to why this topic is important to you to make yourself more relatable.
During the lesson, have suitable notes on certain asanas or sequences ready so that the participants get an impression of which exercises are good for what. However, do not overburden them, but let the comments flow in a well-dosed manner.
At the end, think about a suitable meditation or visualization for Savasana that fits the topic. This will round off your lesson nicely.
You may also want to give your class a personal touch and include something that you particularly like. For example, I always have my participants write a little and have journal prompts ready for them. Maybe you are a fan of essential oils or art – weave these components into your lessons!
Finally, I’d like to include a little note about the title of this article.
Always be aware that your lesson doesn’t have to be “perfect.” In the middle of teaching, you may suddenly realize that a different asana might have been more appropriate; afterwards, you may wish you had chosen a different meditation… so, rather than striving for perfection, strive to create the most enriching experience possible for your participants.