5 Steps to Teaching a Great Yoga Workshop
I love teaching yoga workshops because they get my heart beating fast. They get me nervous. They get me anxious in a sweet way. I get excited about the whole process. Especially when teaching the workshop at a new space or with new students.
Here are some quick tips on preparing for and teaching an awesome yoga workshop:
1. Find the right theme for you and for them.
It has to be something they need. It has to be something that you care about. Deeply care about. There has to be passion behind your theme.
So ask the owner of the studio about her or his people: gender, issues, levels of yoga difficulty, lifestyles, ages, professions, etc. Ask about what they like. More importantly, ask about what they need.
Then you can take this and think about what you are passionate about, what you would like to see more of in the world.
Try this exercise: What do you see when you see the world in a utopia of your imagination? In other words, when you close your eyes and think about the world the way you think it should be, what are the people doing? How are they behaving? What systems are in place? What has changed from where we are now to where we are in your imagination?
Write down whatever comes up. Maybe instead of money, the whole world is about the trading and sharing of art and creativity. Or maybe instead of prisons, there are rehabilitation centers with in-depth counseling and life programs.
Think about how to use this workshop to get from here to there. How can you encourage the students in such a way that you can take the world a tiny step closer to your vision for the world's future.
I have this idea that everyone will go back to eating fresh, organic, local, seasonal foods--returning to a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet, and the whole system of healthcare becomes about maintenance of holistic health and prevention. And drugs are eliminated all together.
So in every one of my workshops, I love to talk about ways to live healthily, not just through yoga and meditation (which are a part of every workshop I do obviously), but also through holistic food medicine, meal guidance, and ways to get away from toxic living.
The second thing you need to wonder about is this: what other gifts can you bring? It's your workshop! You can do whatever the hell you want! You can design it to bring out gifts and passions. If you are also a therapist, might you include a tad bit of group therapy? If you are into crystals and rocks, bring some and talk about them a little bit.
Incorporate your many unique gifts into the theme. Give yourself away. Give it all you have. You want to be blissfully exhausted afterward.
2. Practice and plan the workshop to be as detailed as possible but let yourself be surprised by what you do.
So you are going to need to plan the thing down to a tee. Write down what you want to say. Journal weeks ahead of time about the cohesive message you'd like to get across to these workshop-goers.
Develop a mantra. Decide on a mudra. Choose a pranayama technique. Let it all link together from your theme. Plan the details: how you will introduce yourself, how you will begin, which poses, your magnificent sequence, what you will say during the poses, where you will incorporate your gifts, your mudras, your pranayama, the order in which everything comes. Plan out the music, make a playlist and stretch it to the desired amount of time and then plan out when you will play it (during the yoga part, meditation part, all of it?).
Will there be journaling? Will there be any freestyle discussions or creativity? Plan everything out according to how you want the students to feel when they leave your class.
Practice it a few times, and then let the idea of perfection go. Have a plan but know that you don't always have to stick to it. Sometimes that's just a first draft, and the masterpiece happens during the actual workshop.
Have a plan and practice it but be open in case your heart tells you to do something different. If you get nervous, you can go to the plan (which you should write down and have with you in the workshop). If you feel free and get loose, you can open your mind to new possibilities and spontaneity while the action is happening.
You control the plan. Just don't let it control you. And remember: nothing is ever perfect.
3. Bring something that they can leave with:
Since I'm a certified nutrition consultant, my meal guides are a wonderful thing for me to bring to my workshops. I want my students to leave with a plan of action. I want them to know what to do, how they want to be in the world.
You could print out some handouts, or give out samples of dark chocolate (I've done both). What I like to do is bring a sample of soup or smoothie or freshly pressed juice or some homemade herbal tea. It's just nice to be able to nourish them after the yoga part in some way.
I know you don't need to spend a ton of money on a feast or drinks or anything like that, I'm just saying that we all have plenty to give. And it's a sweet way to show gratitude to your students for taking steps toward a better life, a shinier soul, and for coming to your workshop so that you can spread your love all around!
Sometimes it's just been a nice oil blend that coincides with my theme. I dab a little bit on their temples during savasana if they'd like, if they are signaling that they want that.
The extra touches are everything. People love extra touches. I love it when a company or a person just takes that extra step. It's acting from a place of abundance and to me, it's beautiful.
4. Smile and have fun. Just relax, damn it.
Honestly, that's why anyone goes to a yoga workshop. Just to play and have fun. Even if they don't know that. Even if they think the reason is to get out of their houses on a rainy day, it's actually to get out of the house and have a great time.
Since your energy leads the energy of the whole entire class, everyone is really stumped in their ability to have fun if you're not.
And I know it can unnerving to get up and teach in a place where you don't usually teach. I get that. So that's why I prepare a lot so it takes some nervousness out of the equation. Because at least I know what I'm doing. I've prepared, and that gives me a little relaxation in that fact.
But the more you can relax and let go and have fun, the more fun and enjoyable it will be for everyone else. Even if you feel like you are going to throw up, sometimes it helps to just smile at people. Like that sunshine at the center of your chest radiate out toward everyone in the room. Whenever I'm scared and feel like contracting, I just try to open up and love. Love will always blast the space where there is fear. Love takes over.
And love is way more fun. So laugh, make jokes (but not bad ones), don't expect it to be perfect, laugh at the fact that it's not, and have a great time. Your students will join you, and BOOM, success.
5. Keep the end in mind.
Your goals are always at the forefront. Remember your own goals for this workshop as much as you can. And it always has to do with results for the students. How do you want them to walk out? What do you want each student to take from your workshop? What do you want them to remember about how they felt leaving your workshop?
That's really the best question of all: How do you want them to feel when they walk out?
This, of course, circles us back to the theme, which is used to make your intention. YOUR intention as the teacher. Which could be different from the intention you have designed for the students in the workshop (if you have developed a unified intention for everyone--but maybe you have decided they can come up with their own).
But your intention is your own goal. It will always have to do with how you affect them. Their intention, if you make it for them, helps them to get there.
Before the workshop, you should meditate on this and even visualize the way you want the workshop to affect them. How it will lift them up. How they will let something go. How they will be lighter on their feet. What is it that you want to accomplish? See it done.
And your end-goal does not have to be crazy or intricate. Perhaps you just want them to sweat and walk out smiling. Maybe you just want to offer them an escape from life for a few hours. Perhaps you just want to take them a little higher.
Comment below if you think these tips are spot-on or if you don't (I'm okay with it) or what would really be fun is if you had a favorite workshop story from teaching or being a student! I could always use a good laugh.
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