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Is beginners yoga the most important class, a yoga teacher teaches?

by Arundhati Baitmangalkar

Ask any yoga teacher this question, “what’s the most important class you’ll ever teach?”. You’ll probably hear one of these 3 answers…

  1. All of them are important
  2. Some will say inversions and arm balances or advanced asana
  3. For some its teaching aspiring yoga teachers

I would argue that all of these miss the mark. I would also say all of the above answers help us, yoga teachers get off the hook a lot more easily. While yes, all classes are important. For me, personally, the most important class you’ll ever teach is a beginner’s yoga class. The most important student you’ll ever teach is a beginner yoga student.

But in modern yoga, often the beginner group gets overlooked. Most modern-day yoga studios will funnel you into a level 1 or a gentle flow or some such class. That indicates a certain “gentleness” in the class description. Many pretend to be accessible but in reality, you’ll just end up in a class where everyone is doing a vinyasa flow practice & you’re expected to follow along. On day one jump up and down in chaturanga dandasana with ease, breathing & effortlessness. Even though you’ve never been on your hands and knees in decades.

Reasons why beginners yoga is neglected in modern yoga

  1. The yoga teacher or studio doesn’t recognize the vast majority of people who could potentially learn to do yoga for life in the area. The non-yoga folk.
  2. They fixate on selling to the existing yoga market aka the people who already do yoga. That is always a tricky bargain because people who do asana – can get it anywhere potentially even for free or cheaper & at a greater conveience now.Unless they have a great relationship with the yoga studio community & teachers. If not, they’ll hop to the next thing.
  3. The new student special trap is used to get newbies to commit. While it can work well for someone who is already proficient in asana it doesn’t help the average beginner stick to the practice.
  4. Most people stop doing yogasana at yoga studios because its overwhelming or underwhelming.
  5. Many yoga studios have become so fitness-y, beginners think they get this for cheaper or free at their local gym
Teaching beginners yoga

The hidden potential that most yoga teachers miss with beginners yoga

When you teach a beginner, you have the immense potential to make it a lifelong practice for the student. Imagine being able to teach that one student for months, years, and decades to come. Wouldn’t that be truly rewarding to you as a yoga teacher? That’s how you start to build your own little yoga community.

It would even make commercial sense if that’s how you measure your growth. Seeing to an existing customer you have 30% chance of making a sale. Compared to a colder audience who doesn’t know you.

How to offer beginners yoga?

What’s worked excellently in the past decade is offering dedicated beginner yoga series. I’ve explored everything from 4 weeks to 8 weeks. But the best is a 6-week series, one hour a week. This is just long enough to get through some of the basic asana parts and give people a glimpse into the potential of asana practice.

Also having a start & end date makes one feel like they accomplished something. They hit a goal and easier to move them into the next phase. Instead of just having them walk into a random class and start figuring it out. This way you have a better chance of adding structure, and clarity of practice.

What should yoga teachers know or do for beginners yoga?

I will be elaborating on all this and more in my upcoming blogs and 30hour training (details below). But here’s a quick look at what beginners yoga teachers need to keep in mind.

  1. Build a rapport with the student over everything else
  2. Meet the student at the level they’re at. Identify the right amount of challenge they need
  3. Explain what is yoga in a way that is relatable but also appropriate to the culture and context of yoga
  4. Set expectations and teach them to think long term in terms of practice
  5. Build a asana or yoga pose bank that you can use forever with beginners
  6. Learn the 3-step approach to teaching successful yoga classes (more on this later)
  7. Build your sequencing skills.

This is just the start. Follow along for more such blogs or listen to my weekly podcast where I address all this and more.

My 30-hour yoga teacher training for beginners will launch in May 2022. Sign up here to stay updated.

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