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11 Tips on How to Teach a Vinyasa Yoga Class

Tips On How To Teach A Vinyasa Yoga Class

Whether you’re an experienced yogi, or a newly certified one thinking about how to teach a vinyasa yoga class, we’ve come up with tips to help you become the best teacher you can be!

But before we get onto them, if you’re hoping to develop your skills as a yoga teacher, our range of yoga teacher training courses are here to help you expand your knowledge and become the ideal vinyasa yoga teacher.

Simply download our free course prospectus or enter your details below to find out more!

11 Tips on How to Teach a Vinyasa Yoga Class

Teaching a Vinyasa yoga class is more than simply guiding students through various poses so check out our 11 tips below!

#1 - Always Plan a Sequence When Learning How to Teach a Vinyasa Yoga Class

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

If you’ve recently become a yoga teacher, knowing how to plan and carry out a good sequence can be a big challenge. It’s important to get the balance right between helping your students learn how to correctly perform postures while also leaving them calm and relaxed at the end of the session.

Creating a good flow for your Vinyasa yoga class sequence should consist of these sections:

Grounding For Focus Before The Main Sequence

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

The grounding section helps students become calm and focused before the main sequence begins.

Some of the asanas you can include during this section are:

  • Mountain Pose
  • Child’s Pose
  • Easy Pose

Warm Up To Get Started

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

As the name suggests, this part of the sequence is used to warm up the major muscle groups. It should take between 5 to 15 minutes to complete so the heart rate starts to elevate.

Typically, Sun Salutations are performed as part of a good warm up.

 

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Main Vinyasa Yoga Sequence

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

This section should make up the main bulk of the class, consisting of poses that are repeated on both sides of the body.

These poses should be performed with a specific goal in mind, such as:

  • Opening the hips
  • Opening the Chakras (Energy points within the body)
  • Detoxifying the body and mind

Restorative Poses For Cooling Down

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

Restorative poses are crucial for helping students cool down after performing the main sequence, both physically and mentally.

In order to help restore energies, these poses are often held for longer periods of time.

Some examples include:

  • Wheel Pose
  • Shoulder Stands
  • Bound Angle Pose

Savasana To End The Yoga Sequence

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is the final resting pose practised during a Vinyasa yoga class sequence.

While performing this pose, students lie flat on their backs anywhere between 1 - 15 minutes, depending on the length of the class.

Planning a flow that follows these steps is crucial. If you choose to jump straight into more challenging poses, your students may not be mentally or physically prepared for the practice.

As well as not performing their best, this can lead to a higher risk of students sustaining injuries such as rotator cuff inflammation or torn hamstrings.

Remember, sequencing a good yoga class is a skill and takes some practice to refine! 

#2 - Ensure Each Pose In Your Vinyasa Class Sequence Has An Intention

how to teach a vinyasa yoga class

If you’re wanting to know how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class effectively, it’s important you choose each pose with a set intention.

The poses you choose should link with the intention of the whole sequence so students feel satisfied they’ve achieved something by the end of the class.

New poses should also fit in with previous ones to ensure they advance the overall sequence and help students deepen their practice both physically and mentally.

For instance, if the intention of your class is to encourage emotional vulnerability, you should focus on incorporating hip-opening poses into your Vinyasa class sequence.

yoga class sequence vinyasa

This could include poses such as:

  • Warrior II
  • Wide-Angle Forward Fold
  • Half-Moon Pose

However, something you should avoid in this case is mixing in closed-hip poses, such as Warrior III.

yoga class sequence vinyasa

This will cause the sequence to become confused by guiding students away from the original intention of the class, causing them to close up instead of making themselves vulnerable.

It’s important you monitor the energies of the class to ensure students are able to engage with the set intention.

This means continually reviewing student reactions to the sequence you’ve set and making minor adjustments where needed.

#3 - Teach Vinyasa Yoga Using Safe Transitions

vinyasa yoga flow class sequence

Vinyasa translates as ‘to place in a special way’, referring to the progressions between poses.

This means classes are often referred to as flow classes as they’re full of these progressions, or transitions, which help students flow from pose to pose.

The most common time for injuries to occur is when students are performing these transitions.

With this in mind, one of our tips for knowing how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class safely and effectively is including only natural transitions in your sequences.

For example, there is always a lower risk of injury when transitioning from a closed-hip pose to another closed-hip pose, rather than jumping from a closed to an open-hip pose.

yoga class sequence vinyasa

You should also be aware of some of the most common misalignments that occur in students when performing transitions. 

These include:

  • Not keeping the back foot flat on the mat during Warrior I
  • Collapsing into the shoulders during Chaturanga
  • Failing to keep a neutral spine during bends

To ensure you’re aware of and always include safe transitions in your sequences, it’s important Vinyasa yoga teachers have a good level of anatomical knowledge.

You should also practice these transitions before you teach a Vinyasa yoga class sequence to ensure they are effective in helping students flow safely from one pose to the next.

This is especially true when introducing a transition you haven’t practised yourself for a while or included in your class before.

 

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#4 - Focus on Pranayama During Every Vinyasa Class Sequence

vinyasa yoga flow class sequence

Pranayama (linking breath to movement) is a crucial part of Vinyasa which makes it unique to many other forms of yoga.

If you want to know how to instruct a Vinyasa class sequence effectively, an important tip is to encourage students to use the Ujjayi breathing technique.

By focusing on breathing, this technique allows you to override distracting thoughts during a meditative state, therefore calming the mind.

vinyasa yoga flow class sequence

Some teaching cues for Ujjayi breathing include:

  • Keeping the mouth closed
  • Controlling the breath with the diaphragm
  • Keeping inhalations and exhalations equal in duration

When teaching a class, it can be easy for teachers to make the mistake of focusing only on how to perform each posture.

However, using the breath is an important part of being able to safely and effectively perform the poses included in a Vinyasa flow yoga class sequence and should be emphasised alongside correct alignment.

Teachers should introduce breathing on each transition, encouraging students to inhale during lengthening poses and exhale on deepening poses.

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Looking to expand your knowledge as a Vinyasa yoga teacher? Check out these articles below:

#5 - Offer Alternatives And Modifications For Every Vinyasa Yoga Flow Sequence

vinyasa yoga flow class sequence

Leading a mixed-ability class is great when trying to cultivate an environment where students can learn from each other.

However, they can be challenging when learning how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class. This means you must design an accessible class for beginners while also offering a strong enough challenge for those with more experience.

Even if you aren’t teaching a mixed ability class, not all students will have the exact same ability for each pose.

This means it’s important for you to be aware of the individual students that are present within your class, including their ability levels and any restrictions they may have for performing certain poses.

To teach a Vinyasa yoga class sequence effectively, you should always be able to provide modifications and alternatives to poses, to either increase or decrease difficulty levels.

vinyasa yoga flow class sequence

You should always demonstrate the easier version of the pose first which will help to discourage beginners from attempting advanced poses straight away and becoming injured as a result.

After teaching the simplified pose, you can provide options to make it more challenging.

For instance, to help ease students into Cobra pose, you could begin by teaching Baby Cobra.

Baby Cobra helps increase back strength and flexibility to build up to the full Cobra pose. This should be performed by:

  1. Starting face-down on the mat. Legs should be hip-width apart, with hands next to your ribs on the mat, ensuring you keep elbows tucked in.
  2. Draw the shoulder blades back as you inhale and pull the chest forward.
  3. At this point, you should lift the hands off the mat, feeling most of the effort in the legs, upper back, and core.
  4. While keeping the elbows bent and tight to the body, look forward.

Once Baby Cobra has been demonstrated using these teaching cues, you can offer a progression to Cobra pose. 

how to instruct a vinyasa yoga class

This involves pressing the palms into the mat while lifting the head and chest, and drawing the ribs away from the mat, rather than remaining lying down.

Our final tip on how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class involving modifications is that you should refrain from having any expectations of what your students should be doing and how quickly they are progressing.

Rather than judging their progress, you should respect their individual journeys and try to help them the best you can towards their own goals.

#6 - Consider The Needs Of Your Students Before Teaching A Vinyasa Yoga Class Sequence

how to instruct a vinyasa yoga class

As we’ve already discussed, it’s important to plan a good, well-structured sequence when learning how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class.

Despite this, it’s not appropriate in every situation to walk into a class and begin teaching a sequence you have already prepared without any adaptations.

This is because you may arrive at the class and discover the sequence you have planned will not help to meet the needs of the students who have arrived at your class on that day.

You should be flexible with your sequence and use your intuition to adapt the class to what you feel will best benefit your students.

how to instruct a vinyasa yoga class

To do this effectively and design a sequence around the present students, you should take into account factors such as:

  • Ability Levels
  • Ages
  • Injuries
  • Energies and Emotional Needs 

For instance, if you arrive in a room full of students who are low on energy, a pre-planned class with a grounding or calming intention wouldn’t be beneficial.

If the students present aren’t ready to perform the poses you have planned, it’s important you’re able to make last-minute adjustments to your sequence or offer alternatives instead.

Being able to adapt your classes may seem intimidating at first but over time you will find it much easier to tune into the needs of your students as you gain more experience.

#7 - Keep An Eye On The Time Whilst You Teach Vinyasa Yoga

teach vinyasa yoga

As a yoga teacher, we’re sure you know how frustrating it can be when a student is late to class, disrupting the flow and energy of the session you’ve planned.

If you expect students to arrive on time, it’s important you respect their time by ensuring you end classes on time too.

When learning how to instruct a Vinyasa class, this is crucial in building good student-teacher relationships as it sends a message to students that you respect the time they’ve taken out of their day to attend your class.

To avoid running over, you should make sure a particular amount of time is assigned to each section of the sequence.

There’s nothing worse than having to rush through the end of the class, including the restorative or Savasana poses. 

teach vinyasa yoga

When students leave, this will likely leave them feeling: 

  • Ungrounded
  • Hyped Up
  • Unsatisfied

Being able to properly cool down and relax is crucial to the success of the session. 

Although students should leave your class feeling invigorated, they should also feel relaxed and nourished rather than drained and aching the next day.

A good way to keep track of time during class without disrupting the flow is to wear a wrist watch, or install a clock in the studio.

 

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#8 - Focus on Your Voice During a Vinyasa Class Sequence

teach vinyasa yoga

When learning how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class, it’s likely you’re going to take inspiration from your favourite teachers or yoga instagram accounts to influence your own classes.

Although taking inspiration from others is great, you should avoid directly copying elements of their classes, including the voice they teach with.

It can be tempting to follow others and use the typical ‘yoga teacher voice’. This is often soft and breathy, thought to convey a sense of wisdom and authority.

However, if you copy others and aren’t true to yourself, you’re likely to offer students an inauthentic class.

Instead of trying to copy typical voices or yoga phrases, you should let your own personality shine through in class.

teach vinyasa yoga

Being yourself will also make you feel more comfortable, creating a better atmosphere and offering a better session to your students.

Another tip when teaching a Vinyasa class sequence is to project your voice, making sure to enunciate.

Although it’s important to maintain a calm, relaxed atmosphere, speaking quietly or mumbling your words will distract students from their flow as they strain to hear you.

Also, the more people attending your class, the more sound will be absorbed, so don’t be afraid to be a little louder!

#9 - Don’t Talk Too Much to the Class During a Vinyasa Flow Yoga Sequence

vinyasa class sequence

Excellent communication is what makes a good yoga teacher meaning it’s crucial not to overwhelm students with continuous instruction.

When you’re first learning how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class, it's natural you’ll want to fill any periods of silence with unnecessary talking.

However, rather than helping students, talking non-stop can actually worsen the atmosphere and make it more difficult for students to get into the flow and settle into their meditation.

vinyasa class sequence

Instead of trying to show off your knowledge by explaining every detail of a pose, you should limit your instructions to only necessary ones.

You could also count out a few breaths to remind students of the importance of Pranayama as they concentrate on perfecting their alignment.

Other than this, we would recommend honouring the quiet, meditative nature of the practice and getting used to the silence. After a while, the quietness will start to feel a lot less awkward!

 

Become A Master Yoga Teacher With OriGym

Further develop your knowledge with our accredited yoga teacher training courses!

#10 - Learn How to Teach a Vinyasa Yoga Class Rather Than Instructing

vinyasa class sequence

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, the roles of a successful yoga instructor and teacher are very different when it comes to how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class.

An instructor will remain at the front of the room for the duration of the class, explaining and demonstrating poses for students to follow.

They will give a set sequence of instructions and are simply concerned with telling students what to do and how to do it.

On the other hand, a teacher will demonstrate poses at the front of the class but also wander around the room watching and helping students.

If you want to know how to instruct a Vinyasa class effectively, you need to be doing much more than just instructing but actually teaching too!

vinyasa class sequence

Teachers can provide much more insight into yoga than what can be demonstrated on even the best yoga mats by offering help and advice to students individually as and when they need it.

The role of a good yoga teacher is to help students improve and give them the right tools, knowledge, and confidence to meet their individual goals.

As a new teacher, it can be tempting to keep your feet firmly on the mat for the whole session. However, this won’t benefit your confidence as a teacher or the skills of your students.

To be a great teacher, ensure you wander around the room during your class!

#11 - Arrive Ready to Teach Your Vinyasa Yoga Class Sequence

vinyasa class sequence

Our final tip may seem like an obvious one but knowing how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class is much more than just being able to demonstrate a set of poses!

We know how hard it can be to leave the stresses of your personal life outside the studio during those times when even the benefits of mediation can’t help.

If you’ve had a bad day and turn up to teach your class feeling stressed or unhappy, it can be tempting to let your mood influence the flow or sequence of your Vinyasa yoga class.

However, this will only disrupt the energies within the room, causing the practice of your students to suffer. 

vinyasa class sequence

Instead of compromising the quality of your class, leave your emotional stress at the door, just as you would instruct your students to do.

Try to live in the present moment while teaching the class, immersing yourself in the flow and helping students do the same.

The more you’re able to put aside the things happening outside of your class, the better you’ll help your students.

This will help develop their skills and improve their overall practice much quicker!

Before You Go!

Now we’ve given you some inspiration on how to teach a Vinyasa yoga class well, it’s important to use our tips to develop your own unique style and connect with your students.

Check out our range of yoga teacher training courses to continue expanding your skills and knowledge to become the ultimate Vinyasa yoga teacher.

Find out more by downloading our course prospectus or simply enter your details below!

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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