I started teaching Yin Yoga in 2014 and I fell in love with the practice immediately.
Over the years I have been blessed to teach regular classes that were very full, of eager diverse students. These classes taught me how to be a great yin teacher; each student that was recovering from knee surgery, with interesting compression sites in their body, with painful feet and toes, with hesitation to try certain poses, that were 38 weeks pregnant and many more, taught me how to teach.
I am forever grateful to every student that has been my teacher on this path of yin yoga exploration. Needless to say, I have picked up some great teaching gems along the way that I wanted to share with you.
10. Set up a framework at start of class for people to ask for extra assistance.
What goes on inside a yogi's head and heart during class is so deep and personal, I could dedicate an entire article to that discussion.
When a student feels stuck, unsure, worried about their body getting injured, are not feeling anything at all, or just need a quick check in, it is super important that you create a way that they can do this with you during your yin yoga class.
Remember, if you are the only one talking in the class (as the teacher), then the conversation can easily be one-sided.
What kinds of non-verbal cues could you ask your students to show you through the class to let you know they would like your assistance?
My personal favourite, is simply for them to put their hand up.
This does the following:
Allows you to enter their personal space confidently knowing that the student wants you there.
Takes the guess work out of you assuming the student is struggling.
Creates agency and empowerment in the student so their needs are met during the practice.
9. Keep it simple
When you start teaching Yin Yoga, you might feel as though you need to make your class plan, theme, number of postures, and playlist very complex and jam packed.
Trust me, you do not need to do this.
Get comfortable with being quiet and giving people adequate silence in the class.
Just because you might not be talking, doesn't mean that there isn't a lot going on for them inside their practice.
Create a simple theme, and find small and variable ways to reference this theme with your language, as opposed to repeating the thematic intention with the same words multiple times through the class.
One gentle 'nugget of gold' that you drop verbally into the space, has a much deeper impact than ten nuggets of gold dropped into the class in quick succession.
8. Prop a rolled up towel/pair of socks under the fronts of ankles in saddle/half saddle/ Child's pose
Many students will discover that the point of compression that obstructs their practice more often than not, is their ankles!
This shows up in Child's pose, being on all fours (and being instructed to press the shins into the floor), kneeling, Saddle pose and Half Saddle pose.
If a student indicates that they get ankle pain during the above mentioned posture, ask them after class to sit and extend their legs out in front of them, and plantarflex their ankles.
If the top of their foot is higher than their shin bones, they will probably do really well in those postures to place a rolled up pair of socks, or a towel at the fronts of their ankles to decrease that compression.
Note: Make sure the prop is under the very front of the ankle as opposed to the tops of the feet, which will make the painful sensation increase.
7. Rolled up cushion/blanket behind lumbar in Saddle pose
The lumbar spine is a key Target Area in Saddle pose (I am highlighting the lumbar spine section in the above image).
I don't think this is emphasised enough in yin yoga classes. Usually it is the front of the body, namely the quads that are highlighted as the primary Target Area, which means that a lot of students have an aversion to Saddle pose because it "hurts their back."
The deep compression of the Lumbar spine can be incredibly uncomfortable (that is why I personally prefer Half Saddle pose), and it is very likely that many students would be able to rest down into the posture if they had more lumbar support.
I have found that folding or rolling a thin cushion and wedging it between a students lumbar spine and the bolster or the floor, dramatically changes their ability to surrender into the posture.
6. Play long gentle soundtracks
Music in yoga can be incredibly distracting, especially if a series of different songs are played, with lyrics and different volumes and intensities.
There are some beautiful minimal albums and artists that are wonderful in yin yoga, however you will never please everyone, as the experience of listening to music is so deeply subjective.
I have found that playing long 1-3 hour meditative tracks with a Solfeggio or 432Hz tracks in a yin yoga class to be very useful in helping to quiet the brainwaves of the room, and utilise the music as a gentle aural container for the practice.
There are loads of these on YouTube.
I hope you found something helpful in this list.
Stay tuned for the next 5 tips in Part 2.
Love Karina x
Have you ever used sandbags in your yin yoga classes?
Check out this video below to learn some great ways to incorporate sand bags into your Yin Yoga.
Feeling stuck in your Yin Yoga Teaching?
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