Many years ago, when I began teaching yoga, my classes included a mixture of people new to yoga, along with more experienced yogis. I found it a difficult balancing act to simultaneously ensure that beginners were safe, and experienced yogis were challenged enough to remain interested. At times the balancing act caused both heartache and soul searching. I remember classes where I’d have a group of relatively experienced students in full swing, when a completely new person would roll up late, and proceed to flounder in hopelessly unsuitable postures. No amount of ‘only do what feels comfortable for your body’ type of instruction would have any effect.
Then in 2000 I studied for the first time with renowned yoga teacher – Donna Farhi – on an advanced teacher training course in Vancouver. I can’t remember now, exactly what Donna said about teaching beginners but I resolved that on my return, I would no longer work for health clubs and I would no longer teach beginners and experienced yogis in one class. Many yoga classes in the UK seem to have this unsatisfactory mix. Health clubs and gyms invariably impose it – with scant regard to the possibility of injury in the students and stress to the teachers. Ever since my revelation in Vancouver, I’ve taught specialised Beginners Yoga classes as courses, so that all students progress with others of similar ability. At the end of a Beginners Course, my students can continue to Intermediate and ultimately, to Advanced classes.
All my classes begin with breath awareness – noticing what’s going on with our breathing. This is an important route towards stress reduction. If you’re perhaps interested in trying yoga for the first time, or just wanting to check in with your breathing, listen to this audio clip from my Beginners Volume 1 audio class.
I love teaching yoga to beginners and receive very good feedback from them, yet I am regularly on the look out to teach with even greater effectiveness. In 2004 this led me to train with Donna Farhi in Vancouver once more – this time on a course devoted to teaching Beginners. I had a fascinating and enlightening week – consolidating methods familiar to me and learning some new approaches.
In 2011 I became a founding member of the board and faculty of Yoga Campus Hebden Bridge – training yoga teachers in the North of England for London based Yoga Campus. I’m delighted that ‘How to teach Beginners‘, has recently been designated a module of its own. Our second intake of teacher trainees – now two thirds through their training – will learn this topic from me on January 12th, 2014. For me, this will be an opportunity to impart information based on my many years experience of teaching yoga to beginners – a subject that’s become a passion!