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9 Tips for Teaching a Beginner's Yoga Class

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If you’ve been wondering how to teach a basic yoga class, OriGym has you covered! You can teach people who are unfamiliar with yoga and give them a solid foundation for their practice!

Before we start, if you’re not already qualified, the most important thing for instructing a beginner’s yoga class is finding the right yoga teacher training.

Both our Level 3 yoga qualification and our Level 4 yoga have practical elements that will allow you to practice and perfect your teaching style!

You can also download our free course prospectus for more details about this support and the contents of the course.

9 Tips For Instructing Yoga Class For Beginners 

#1 - How to Teach a Beginner Yoga Class: Build Rapport at the Start of Class

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The 10 to 15-minute period before you start teaching a basic yoga class is incredibly valuable for a number of reasons, including:

  • It’s where people check in
  • People get settled during this time
  • You can do warm ups
  • People will catch up with their friends and classmates

That’s why this time is a great opportunity you can capitalise on to get to know the people you’re instructing in your beginner’s yoga class.

Engage your students in some light conversation. You can talk about:

  • Their experience with yoga
  • Any plans for holidays
  • The weather

 

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Avoid topics that are political or controversial, and bear in mind that not everyone needs or wants to chat. Don’t force the conversation! 

Some other simple tips for rapport building when you’re instructing a beginner’s yoga class are:

  • Learning names
  • Smiling & maintaining eye contact
  • Asking about previous injuries/medical history that you may need to be aware of

Remember to keep things professional. Being approachable and friendly can vastly improve client retention, but you’re there to keep your students happy and engaged rather than making friends!

#2 - How to Teach a Basic Yoga Class: Be Kind and Patient with Class Members

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How to teach a basic yoga class involves being kind and patient, even more so than other classes or different styles of yoga.

While this does apply to all levels of ability, it’s especially important for how to teach a beginner’s yoga class because your attitude in class may be the decider between a student returning or not.

One of the best things about practising yoga is that it helps you slow down and develop patience. Use what you learn through your own practice and apply it to how to teach a basic yoga class.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with a student’s form, gently correct them whilst celebrating what they’re doing well. 

For example, if your student has managed to get into a particular pose for the first time you should congratulate them, even if they’re a bit unstable or need the help of a yoga block or yoga strap.

You’ll boost their confidence and make them feel comfortable trying the pose again in the future.

#3 - How to Teach a Beginner Yoga Class: Set up Poses for Class Members

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Setting up a pose when you’re instructing a beginner’s yoga class means explaining:

  • Which way your students should be facing
  • How wide their stance should be
  • Which (if any) yoga equipment they might need
  • When they should inhale or exhale through the pose

Below, we’ll give you an example of how to simply set up Tadasana (Mountain Pose) when teaching a beginner’s yoga class. 

You will most likely use this pose a lot as it forms the basis of many other standing asanas. It’s also often used to transition from one sequence to another.

  1. Stand with your feet together and arms at your side
  2. Ground your feet, pressing into the ground
  3. Straighten your legs
  4. Tuck your tailbone as you engage your thigh muscles 
  5. Elongate your torso pulling the lower abdominal muscles in
  6. Breath into the chest, opening it as you relax your arms at your sides and turn your palms to face outwards

What makes a good yoga teacher is keeping setups thorough yet simple, making room for cues throughout poses and transitions. We’ll cover these next!

You’ll need to keep these instructional set ups short and simple, making room for cues throughout the poses and transitions. We’ll cover these next!

#4 - How to Teach a Beginner’s Yoga Class: Keep Your Cues Simple

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When wondering ‘how do you teach a beginner yoga class?’, one of the most important things to do is keep it simple.

While it is necessary that you set a foundation for healthy and safe alignment, try not to overload your students with instructions or refinements.

You can run through the basics of the pose in your set up, and then go into slightly more detail throughout, taking care not to overwhelm students.

Teaching a beginner’s yoga class involves being simple and clear whilst also offering enough instruction, and this can be a delicate balance.

If you keep your language simple, focusing on one body part at a time, your class won’t feel stressed with students less likely to return.

For instance, after you’ve set up a pose and given the detailed instruction, you can offer some of these additional cues:

Relax those face muscles"

Breathe into the pose, take it a little deeper if you want the challenge"

Remember to keep that chest open, shoulders wide

These will all act as encouragement as well as acting as a gentle way to correct a student’s form and push them.

#5 - How to Teach a Basic Yoga Class:  Make Transitions Between Poses Slow and Simple

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If you want to know how to teach a beginner yoga class, keep in mind that transitions can be quite difficult for complete beginners, so be patient with your class.

As we mentioned earlier, you also want to make sure the flow of the class isn’t too fast like in Rocket Yoga or when teaching a Vinyasa class.

We’ve broken down the steps from a Low Lunge to a Half Split below so that you can incorporate this simple transition into your classes:

  1. Once in the Low Lunge pose, slowly straighten through your front leg, shifting your hips backwards
  2. Release your fingertips to the ground on either side of the front knee (or onto yoga blocks)
  3. To prevent your chest from collapsing into the pose, keep a flat back and try to avoid curling your body over your front leg

Again, try to remain patient as your students get to grips with new transitions, while keeping an eye on their progress. 

If movements seem choppy and rushed, put your class at ease by letting them know they can take all the time they need to get comfortable.

#6 - How to Teach a Beginner Yoga Class: Explain Terminology to New Class Members

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When you’re teaching a beginner’s yoga class, one of the most important yoga teacher tips we can give you is to be mindful of the language you use!

Use terminology that non-yogis will be able to understand, and if you do throw in some new vocab, define it as you go! 

This means students will be able to focus on the practice itself, rather than worrying about remembering the Sanskrit names for what they’re doing.

If people are interested in the names, and the history of yoga more broadly, this is something you can elaborate on when you’re getting to know students at the start of class!

Whether it’s physical poses, breathing techniques, or meditation, using simple language will ensure your class stays engaged and doesn't lose focus. 

This also improves client retention because students will feel more welcomed and accommodated, encouraging them to come back and improve.

#7 - How to Teach a Basic Yoga Class: Offer Pose and Transition Variations

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Whilst variations are useful for all levels of ability they can be particularly important for instructing a beginner’s yoga class, as this gives your students the freedom and control to make their practice suited to their level of ability.

Variations refer to slightly different ways of doing a pose that either decreases or increases levels of difficulty. 

Since a big part of yoga is to do with listening to your body, variations will show your students that you recognise that they don’t always have to prove themselves by doing the hardest poses. 

 

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This, in turn, creates a welcoming and inclusive environment that leads to better client retention and higher-quality relationships with your students.

A good example of this is Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose) - a more basic variation of this pose is to have the back knee resting on the floor rather than raised and balanced. 

If you have students struggling with their balance, you can suggest this variation, whilst also using yoga blocks for support.

#8 - How Do You Teach a Beginner Yoga Class? Encourage Questions from Class Members

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Learning how to teach a beginner’s yoga class involves encouraging your class members to ask questions.

This will increase your rapport with students as well as reducing the risk of injury, as people won’t feel pressured to push themselves, or do a pose they’re not 100% confident about.

After you introduce a new position or transition, or when you discuss any intentions at the start of the class, ask whether anyone has any questions about it.

You can also check that your instructions make sense and remind class members to ask any questions they need to throughout the session.

You can also ask if anybody has any existing injuries. This will open up a dialogue and make sure you’re protecting your clients.

If you can, show up for class a little earlier than you need to, so you can answer any pre-class queries. 

Plan to stay for a while after the session, too, for anyone who has a question they prefer to ask privately. 

Whether it’s yoga facts or information about styles you don’t necessarily teach, sometimes you’ll be thrown by a question from a student.

If you don’t know the answer, saying: 

I don’t know, but I’ll do my best to find out for you

Or

I can direct you to someone who might be able to answer that more effectively

These are perfectly valid responses, and are more helpful than a shot in the dark.

#9 - How to Teach a Basic Yoga Class: Be Creative with Your Sequences

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One of the most important things to remember for how to teach a beginner yoga class, is making your classes creative.

Obviously when you’re learning how to teach a basic yoga class, you’ll be developing your practice and refining your skills.

This is why it’s important to remember you should always be challenging yourself and pushing yourself to make classes fresh and exciting by experimenting with sequences.

This will keep class members engaged whilst also ensuring you don’t find your own classes boring, compromising your teaching!

Below are some things you can experiment with, or change up, to keep things interesting:

  • Mantras - include some positive affirmations to help students keep a clear mind
  • Intentions - set intentions for the class allowing these to shape the poses and sequences you use
  • Pay attention to the calendar - you can shape classes around any milestones such as new year, or a different astrological season

How to Teach a Beginner Yoga Class: What Students Should Bring with Them

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As you’ll know from taking part in classes yourself, the equipment you’ll need will vary depending on the style of yoga.

Part of the yoga teacher job description is to ensure you provide some of the essential pieces of yoga kit whilst encouraging students to bring others.

Usually a studio will provide a yoga mat but if you’re teaching a hot yoga class, for example, you’ll need to ensure that they’re non slip and in a suitably sweat-wicking material.

Other considerations that you should still mention to your new students include:

  • A towel
  • Water
  • A change of clothes

As with all the tips on how to teach a basic yoga class, you should prioritise making your students feel comfortable, and ensuring they have as calm and enjoyable an experience as possible.

Before You Go!

We hope that our list of tips on how to teach a basic yoga class has given you some solid ideas for your next session.

Remember that one of the best ways to develop your practice, and boost your skills, is with a Level 4 Yoga Diploma. There’s plenty of ideas for structuring classes and post-course support.

Download our course prospectus to find out more about all of our yoga teacher training and everything else we offer!

Written by Erin McDonough

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Erin holds a BA in English Language and Linguistics, which she attained whilst studying at Bangor University. Whilst studying, she found a passion for editing and writing, and has worked with writers from the Wirral and Liverpool area over the past 3 years. Erin also has a keen interest in strength training and yoga, often incorporating mindfulness techniques into the latter. Outside of work, Erin can be found gaming, catching up with the newest book releases, or song writing.

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