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13 Tips For Teaching A Yin Yoga Class

Tips For Teaching Yin Yoga Class

We’ve put together some tips about how to teach a Yin Yoga class to help you make the most of each class and provide students with the best possible experience.

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13 Tips For Teaching A Yin Yoga Class

When it comes to Yin Yoga, it’s important to recognise how different it is from Vinyasa or Bikram Yoga, especially when teaching classes. Our tips are tailored to this practice, helping you to get the most out of students when teaching these classes.

Tip #1 - Use Traffic Light Systems To Monitor Comfort Levels During Each Yin Yoga Pose

how to sequence a yin yoga class

Our first piece of advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to consider using a traffic light system to monitor student pain levels.

Yin Yoga involves a slower and more meditative practice. Clients hold poses for much longer than during Vinyasa Yoga - this can be from 3 minutes up to 20!

With this in mind, you want students to stretch deeply enough for it to be felt over time but not so hard they overstrain their muscles or injure themselves. 

This is where the traffic light system comes in and can be done verbally or by holding up flashcards:

  • Green - Students should feel no discomfort at all and can easily hold the pose.
  • Amber - Students feel the stretch and mild discomfort but can hold it for the duration.
  • Red - This is the danger zone where students will find a pose very painful.

Using this system, you ideally want students to be in the amber zone. This means they can feel their bodies adapting to the pose but shouldn’t be experiencing serious pain. 

how to teach yin yoga

Minor discomfort is reasonable as it means their bodies are working hard and getting the most out of their practice. However, If your students are in the red zone they risk injury and may set themselves back in their practice.

Always remember ‘no pain, no gain’ has no place in teaching Yin Yoga. This can produce a negative mindset and students may develop the idea they are only reaching their goals if they experience pain.

On the other hand, easy and simple poses offer no room for improvement and students may find these classes boring.

Tip #2 - Use Yoga Props To Help Students Make The Most Of Different Yin Yoga Poses

how to sequence a yin yoga class

Props can make a huge difference when deciding how to teach each Yin Yoga pose, especially if you learn to use them effectively.

Props for Achieving a Yin Yoga Pose

how to teach yin yoga

Yin Yoga encourages relaxation and releases your muscles as you stretch. Using props appropriately can help students stay still and relaxed for extended periods of time.

Your props can range from simple yoga blocks to blankets and bolsters. These can all be used to make different postures more achievable or effective depending on the student. 

For example, if you have a client who can’t comfortably achieve the pose long enough to hold it as they’re in the red zone, you could use a bolster to support their bodies and make the posture easier.

On the other hand, you could also use a yoga block to get a deeper stretch, bringing some clients out of the green zone and into amber. 

It all depends on how a student can fit into each posture and working with them to ensure they’re getting the most from the class.

Using a prop to support a posture isn’t ‘cheating’ - there’s no shame in a student needing something extra to reach different poses.

One key piece of advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to encourage students to listen to their bodies and do what feels right. If that means using a block to make things easier, that’s perfectly fine!

Props for General Comfort During Yin Yoga Poses

how to sequence a yin yoga class

When instructing a Yin Yoga class, you can use props to make things more comfortable. In Yin Yoga, it’s likely you’re going to be holding a pose anywhere between 3 to 10 minutes which can be uncomfortable on a hard floor.

Using extra yoga mats or blankets can go a long way in ensuring your students are comfortable during each posture. This allows them to fall into the pose and concentrate on relaxing or slipping into a meditative state.

 

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Tip #3 - Consider How And When Is Best To Speak Vs Staying Silent

how to teach a yin yoga class

Yin Yoga is arguably among the most meditative of all different types of yoga styles. Knowing how to speak properly during class is important for setting the mood.

Tone of Voice

advice for yin yoga

When learning how to teach a Yin Yoga class, one thing you should bear in mind is your tone of voice.

In terms of modulating your voice, our tips for Yin Yoga teachers is to be firm yet soft. A soft speaking voice will help keep the relaxed mood you want for the class.

Keeping your tone light and friendly will also help students stay within the meditative mindframe and make your clients relate more with your teaching style, making them more likely to come back to class.

However, you should still be assertive so your students listen and respond positively to your authority.

Speaking Up Vs Staying Silent

how to teach a yin yoga class

Another key point to consider when you start thinking about how to instruct a Yin Yoga class is learning when it’s appropriate for you to speak and when you should stay quiet.

If you want to keep a relaxed atmosphere where your students feel comfortable enough to meditate, you can’t speak too much and break their concentration.

As a loose guideline, try not to speak for more than 30 seconds for each minute your class is being held. This should be enough time to explain the posture and how to transition into the pose.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a great place to start when you’re learning what will work best for your class.

When you’re helping clients individually, keeping a low voice won’t disturb others in the class so feel free to take your time with each student as you need to help them get the best from each posture.

Tip #4 - Think About The Atmosphere You Want To Create In The Yin Yoga Studio

advice for yin yoga

Another of our ‘how to teach Yin Yoga’ tips involves carefully considering the mood in your studio and what you can do to create the best atmosphere for your class.

There are several methods you can use which we’ll briefly go through below.

Using Music or Ambient Noise During Yin Yoga Classes

advice for yin yoga

One way to create a mood within a space is by using music! Different backing tracks can relax or energise a studio, meaning it’s important you choose the best sounds for your class.

A Yin Yoga class should be calm and relaxed. Quiet classical music or gentle acoustic guitar songs are definitely one way to go. You can create a yoga Spotify playlist to provide background sounds for your class without being too loud or complicated.

However, some advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to be careful when choosing anything with lyrics. This could distract your students while instructing your Yin Yoga class.

If you don’t want music, you could always use natural noise by picking a backing track of ambient sounds such as:

  • Ocean Waves
  • Rainforest 
  • Woodland 

These tracks will easily slip through the ears of your class, providing stimulation without distraction.

Using Scents to Create Atmosphere During Yin Yoga Classes

advice for yin yoga

If you want to increase the relaxation factor of your Yin Yoga class, aromatherapy is a simple extra that can make a big difference.

In terms of scents, our best ‘how to’ for teaching a Yin Yoga class is to choose earthy or subtle floral scents.

Flowers like lavender or jasmine and herbs like sage and rosemary are commonly used in relaxants, making them a great option to choose from for your studio.

We do recommend you avoid strong citrus smells as these tend to be stimulating, which doesn’t fit the mood you want.

Scents are an easy way to set the right tone for your class from the beginning and a great way to show your individual taste and personality during class.

Create An Atmosphere Using Temperature During Yin Yoga Classes

advice for yin yoga

When you learn how to teach a Yin Yoga class, one thing you should remember is the temperature of your studio is cooler than Vinyasa, and much cooler than Bikram.

This is because warmer temperatures encourage the muscles to feel the stretch whereas in Yin Yoga you want the feeling to go deeper into the connective tissues. Cooler temperatures allow the stretch to deepen through the body.

One thing to remember when you’re designing the mood for your class is to make sure the studio is on the cooler side to make sure your students get the most from their session.

Tip #5 - Plan Your Yin Yoga Sequences So They Flow Smoothly

advice for yin yoga

Knowing how to sequence a Yin Yoga class properly is an incredibly important skill because it helps the class feel professional.

The right sequence ensures students will be able to work in a logical way around the body and are less likely to overtrain an area or skip over it entirely during their workout.

Depending on the theme of your routine, students may be focusing on a more specific area of the body, so it’s important you have the right variety of poses to work through this area without repeating the same muscle group too often.

In a lower body routine, you’ll want to choose poses that cover everything from hip to foot to provide a full experience for each leg.

For example, in one routine you could have a combination of:

  • Pigeon pose
  • Swan pose
  • Half happy baby 
  • Reclined twists

These poses work as hip openers at different angles, as well as stretching the quads and hamstrings.

instructing a yin yoga class

This style of routine means students can work evenly across each leg and get deep into any problem areas they may be experiencing.

Another reason you should know how to sequence a Yin Yoga class routine is because the right routine will create a thorough experience for your students and they’ll be able to flow through the poses easily without getting stuck in the transitions.

Lastly, Yin Yoga as a whole relies on holding a series of poses for an extended period of time, encouraging a deeper stretch in the body. 

To this end, you’re going to have fewer poses in your practice as each will be held for a minimum of 3 minutes.

Choosing the right poses becomes doubly important when you’re making a rich and full class experience for your clients. You don’t want students to leave the session feeling like they haven’t made any progress, meaning you need to consider how your routine will flow.

Tip #6 - Consider Function Over Form When It Comes To Yin Yoga Poses

instructing a yin yoga class

Function over form is one of the most important tips for Yin Yoga teachers.

Remembering this will make you a more attentive and helpful Yin Yoga teacher in the long run. It will also make your classes a fuller experience for your clients.

Yin Yoga is a functional exercise practice. It’s designed to provide a deeper stretch for the body, as well as an opportunity to connect mentally to the self. Students could even slip into a meditative state during select poses.

While the poses are obviously important in terms of function, their overall form is more of a guideline for how they’re done rather than a hard and fast rule.

Teachers and students can often get too invested in achieving the correct form or moving onto the next level of the pose they forget to listen to their bodies.

instructing a yin yoga class

Everyone has their own body structure, meaning poses will look and feel slightly different to each individual.

As someone who is instructing a Yin Yoga class, you need to be aware of this and work with it, rather than forcing your students into uncomfortable or ineffective positions in the name of achieving the correct form.

Instead, you should encourage students to listen to their bodies while you're teaching Yin Yoga and help them work towards the original function of a pose.

Our advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to see how each student first fits into a posture and how their own body alignment interprets a pose before you offer any assistance or corrections.

Encourage students to listen to their bodies and work with them to achieve a pose, otherwise they risk overstraining their muscles and potentially injuring themselves.

 

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Tip #7 - Pay Attention To Transitions Between Yin Yogas Poses

instructing a yin yoga class

Part of learning how to sequence a Yin Yoga class is paying attention to the transitions and flow between each pose.

When you’re creating a routine, you want to choose poses that make sense together. These should be ones where you can flow from one to the other without disrupting the mood during the transitional stage.

For example, moving from pigeon pose to swan pose is easier as you just need to: 

  • Sit up in the chest
  • Bend the back knee 
  • Bring the foot up from the floor

On the other hand, changing from pigeon pose to happy baby makes less sense overall.

Flowing through these poses means you would have to:

  • Sit up
  • Turn onto your back
  • Bring both legs out into the air in a smooth way

This isn’t really feasible in one smooth movement.

instructing a yin yoga class

Of course, not all poses can be transitioned easily from one to the other. However, you should be able to find the right balance of movements between each posture to make the transitions smooth.

For example, moving from pigeon to swan and then into face down savasana (corpse pose) makes use of each different stage to create a smooth sequence.

One of our tips for Yin Yoga teachers is this - if you can’t create smoother transitions, make a feature out of them instead.

When you’re finding it hard to switch between postures, you can make more of a deal out of the transition and incorporate it into the routine rather than just as something to get from A to B. 

Another ‘how to’ for teaching a Yin Yoga class is to slow down and make sure your students aren’t trying to rush through their transitions.

Yin Yoga is naturally meditative, meaning you should encourage students to work slowly through their transitions and concentrate on their movements in each phase.

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Looking for some extra inspiration for teaching your own Yin Yoga classes? You’re sure to find these articles useful:

Tip #8 - Leave Time Between Yin Yoga Poses for Rebound

how to teach a yin yoga class

One thing you should know from learning how to teach a Yin Yoga class is paying attention to transitions like we explored above. This also means leaving some time between each pose for students to recover from any rebound they may experience.

Rebound is basically the time taken between positions where the body relaxes and recovers from the position it had previously been in. 

When you’re instructing a Yin Yoga class, your students are putting controlled amounts of stress on the connective tissues of the body by stretching deeply. 

When this tension is released, your students will need some time to recover from the release of pressure or rebound.

Having this short amount of time allows the body to reset back to a more neutral setting where it isn’t expected to hold any stretches, so rebound is a period of recovery.

how to instruct a yin yoga class

During rebound the heart rate returns to normal and blood flow increases to the areas you were just working with. Skipping this state could lead to increased tension and soreness as you haven’t allowed the body time to rest in between poses.

It’s definitely important you recognise the impact of recovery when you’re new to learning how to instruct a Yin Yoga class.

Our advice to Yin Yoga teachers is if you’re unsure how to incorporate time for rebound into your routines, make each transition go through savasana (corpse pose). 

By lying down on your front or back in savasana you’re allowing time for the body to recover in a neutral pose. This is an easy position to transition through into the next pose while keeping the overall flow of your routine.

Tip #9 - Explain And Perform Each Yin Yoga Pose Clearly

how to instruct a yin yoga class

For a session to be successful, you need to know how to instruct a Yin Yoga class. This  means knowing how to explain each pose in your routine clearly so students feel confident with the function of the posture.

You can do this through a combination of the following.

Language Choice

how to instruct a yin yoga class

When learning how to teach a Yin Yoga class, you likely learnt lots of Sanskrit and English names for the different poses you can use for your routines. 

These sanskrit names are definitely necessary to know as they connect you to the roots of the practice and the history of yoga. However, just because you as a teacher know these names doesn’t mean your students will.

That’s why one of our tips for Yin Yoga teachers is to strike the right balance between using Sanskrit and English names during class.

Some Sanskrit names are very well known, like savasana for corpse pose or tadasana for mountain pose. After a few classes you could probably just use these over the sanskrit as they’re commonly used.

With other poses such as happy baby, we recommend using a combination of both the English and Sanskrit (ananda balasana in this case) to explain poses to your class when you’re teaching Yin Yoga.

Demonstrate the Yin Yoga Pose

how to instruct a yin yoga class

As well as naming each pose, our advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to demonstrate and follow along with your class as you enter each transition and new posture.

When teaching Yin Yoga classes you’ll need to go around your class and check in with your students about how they’re finding it, or adjusting their pose to work better for their level of fitness.

However, you always need to physically demonstrate how a pose is performed first as this gives your class a visual guide to follow that they can adapt or work towards for themselves.

Demonstrating the pose also allows you to simplify or advance the posture as needed (see more below) so you can teach your class more effectively and inclusively.

Offer Guidance and Adjustments Where Appropriate

instructing a yin yoga class

We mentioned it briefly above, but another piece of advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to go around that class and check in with your students to make sure they fully understand what is being asked of them.

Here you can offer advice on each pose and where appropriate, even help to physically adjust your students.

With this, remember to actively listen to students and encourage them to listen to their bodies. You don’t want to push anyone too hard and cause any injuries.

Tip #10 - Have Alternative Poses Or Modifications Ready For Each Yin Yoga Routine

instructing a yin yoga class

As part of learning how to sequence a Yin Yoga class our advice is to always start with the simplest form of each pose. This makes your class more accessible for people who are just starting out with Yin Yoga.

Starting simple is obviously perfect for beginner classes. Keeping to the basics is good practice for experienced Yin Yoga practitioners as well - especially if they’re getting back into it or looking for a more restorative class.

However, as your students improve you may want to offer more progression while still keeping the class beginner friendly.

You might want to consider using adaptable poses in your routine that can be made harder for more experienced students. If this is the case, you can simply start with the base form and show the more advanced form afterwards.

This type of sequencing is also beneficial from a business point of view as you may not have the space or time to offer separate beginner classes. You can open your classes to different levels and encourage client retention.

Another reason for offering alternative poses when instructing a Yin Yoga class is to make certain poses more accessible for students with physical differences or limitations. This is similar to making adjustments when personal training disabled clients.

instructing a yin yoga class

For example, if clients have:

  • Pre-existing injuries (especially around the joints)
  • Disabilities 
  • Issues resulting from old age

They may require poses to be altered to suit their needs.

By having alternative poses and modifications ready to go, each class you’re showing clients you care about their learning experience rather than expecting them to wait while everyone else works on the pose.

You’re also proving they were right to choose you as their teacher because you have the knowledge and know-how to teach Yin Yoga in a way that benefits them and they’ll be more likely to sign up long term with your classes.

 

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Tip #11 - Be Adaptable And Willing To Work With Yin Yoga Clients

instructing a yin yoga class

When you’re working in such a client-facing role, knowing how to teach a Yin Yoga class involves interacting well with your students to create a positive working environment for everyone.

For your classes to be a success, you need to be open to change and willing to work with your students.

Being open to change usually comes with adapting your original routine to fit the circumstances of the class. Although having a plan is essential, you need to remember plans aren’t set in stone. 

For example, if everyone is finding a pose too easy or too difficult, you may need to change things up and replace the posture with something else to make the class valuable and achievable.

This means having the know-how to teach a Yin Yoga class is being able to tell when a posture is or isn’t working for a class. This is something you’ll gain through experience and will become a valuable skill in making sure your classes flow properly.

how to teach a yin yoga class

Being adaptable in this way makes sense when you’re instructing a Yin Yoga class. It means you can keep students moving in the right direction without getting flustered or throwing you off for the rest of the session if you do need to change anything.

It also shows students you know what you’re talking about, as you can replace postures with similar ones or fit into the general theme of the class.

Students will always surprise you, meaning there’s no guarantee the pose won’t work out. However, being prepared beforehand makes you look good in front of your class and lets you keep control of the session.

Working closely with your students ties in with the idea of ‘function not form’ we explored above. Our advice for Yin Yoga teachers is to encourage students to aim for the original function of the pose rather than getting stuck on making it look perfect.

Yin Yoga isn’t a competition for who can do something the best! This is a mentality you should put an emphasis on in your sessions.

Tip #12 - Use Your Yin Yoga Poses As A Gateway to Meditation

instructing a yin yoga class

Yin Yoga is completely different to other styles of yoga. One of our tips for Yin Yoga teachers is to embrace these qualities by using the class as a way to introduce your students to the benefits of meditation.

Meditation and yoga have a symbiotic relationship where they can both enhance the practice of the other and Yin Yoga works especially well with meditation.

This is because when you’re instructing a Yin Yoga class each posture will usually be held for a minimum of 3 minutes each. However, some can range up to 20 minutes depending on your experience and comfort level.

To get the most from each posture, Yin Yoga encourages stillness and relaxation. Both of these are well suited to meditative practice and can help students practise mindfulness while they’re in a yoga pose.

instructing a yin yoga class

When learning how to teach a Yin Yoga class, our advice is to take the time to learn a few short guided meditations. You can slip these into your sessions and encourage your students to do as much as they’re comfortable with.

3 to 5 minute bursts are perfect for beginner’s meditation! These are short enough for student’s to stay focused yet long enough for them to feel some benefits.

As they become more comfortable with meditation, you can have your students hold their postures for longer. Not only do they sink deeper physically but they can get deeper into meditation as they check in with their mental health.

Meditation is a great way to enrich your classes and encourages clients to rebook with you as they’ll feel like they’re getting more for their money than they would with other teachers.

So, if you’re thinking about how to teach a Yin Yoga class with a difference, meditation is definitely a great addition to your sessions!

Tip #13 - Use Themes To Plan Your Yin Yoga Routines

instructing a yin yoga class

We’ve learned that knowing how to sequence a Yin Yoga class is important and you need to pay attention to how you put poses together from a flow perspective.

However, there is another element you can use for arranging your Yin Yoga routines and these are yoga class themes!

Incorporating themes into your classes is a great method to help you organise and plan a routine as you have a central element to work outwards from when teaching Yin Yoga.

There are loads of themes to choose from and each of these can inspire your creativity and help you create new and exciting combinations of postures.

Themes tend to be broken down into different categories, these include:

Emotional Themes:

  • Heartbreak
  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Frustration

Physical Themes:

  • Core
  • Lower leg
  • Back 
  • Shoulder

instructing a yin yoga class

Philosophical & Spiritual Themes:

  • Empowerment
  • Celebration
  • Self-awareness

Mental Themes:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-care

Nature Themes:

  • The beach or forest
  • Weather such as rain or sun
  • Different seasons

All of our tips for Yin Yoga teachers are aimed at improving the class experience for the students. However, some are great from a business and planning perspective.

Creating themes for your classes makes them much more marketable from a business perspective as clients will be intrigued and want to learn what this class can do for them.

Using a class theme also makes your session more memorable and people will be more likely to recommend you, meaning more students for your business!

Before You Go!

With our tips, you can see learning how to teach a Yin Yoga class can certainly be a smooth process!

To put our tips into practice, get started with our Level 4 Diploma in Teaching Yoga and continue your career to become the best Yin Yoga teacher in the industry!

Download our course prospectus to find out more or enter your details below.

Written by Rachel Stevens

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Rachel is a freelance content writer and fitness enthusiast based in Liverpool. She completed her BA (Hons) in Egyptology and Ancient History, followed by a MA in Ancient History, at the University of Liverpool. She has a keen interest in many water-based sports, like kayaking, in which she holds a 1-star qualification with the intention of progressing further. She is an avid reader, runner and yoga enthusiast.

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