On Instagram, I like to ask what type of topics you’d like learn about. Recently, we had an ultra clear winner: how to learn the ‘right words’. In this blog, I’ll help you find an answer to the questions: ‘How to learn the right words’. Specifically, the right words that match your teaching style. And by that, teach yoga in English with confidence and authenticity.
Those that have been with us for a while know how much I stress authenticity. But if you’re new to our community, I just want to clarify why it’s my biggest aim for you is to teach with authenticity. And that is, the number one thing that will boost your confidence is the ability to express yourself truly. That means knowing who you are. What you stand for (your principles, values and boundaries). Embracing your accent and choosing the words that match your personality, interests, style of teaching, and style of yoga.
Choosing the right words goes much further than learning yogic vocabulary or applying correct grammar rules. In this blog, I’ll help you choose the right words that match your teacher identity in 4 steps.
Let’s dive into the things that affect your word choice.
Choosing, knowing, or using the right words is different for every yoga teacher. Because there are countless of right words, but not all words are right for you.
English is a global language and every country, region or dialect has its own variations. Most words have synonyms or alternatives. Just as you have a preference for specific terms and expressions in your first language, you’ll also have a preference for one or another way of explaining or describing things in English.
Take for example the verb ‘lift’. Synonyms of lift could be raise or elevate. In your yoga class you could say, lift, raise or elevate your arms. Is one of these options more ‘right’ than the other? Not necessarily. It all depends on your intention, the style of yoga you teach, your style of voice (personality and preferences), and who you teach.
Lift in my opinion, ‘lift’ is the most accessible choice. It’s a common word used in almost every English speaking country or region. It’s a word used in many different contexts and most English learners will be familiar with it. But, if your style of teaching is more spiritual, if you work with a theme, or if you want to inspire your students and keep them engaged by switching up your vocabulary, raise and elevate work really well too.
As you see there are many different factors that define ‘the right words’ and I honestly don’t believe there’s only one right way of giving instructions, cueing and communicating yogic topics.
Find out how you can choose the right words for YOU in 4 steps:
1. Become aware of teaching and cueing styles
You know that yoga isn’t a work-out. Your classes offer an experience for growth on all levels of consciousness. As a teacher, you take on the responsibility to guide and lead your students and to many you’re a role model. So, in your role as a teacher, you want to teach what you know, what you’ve experienced and know very well. Your personality, passions, interests, and experiences should be reflected in your teaching style.
Think of your teachers and the way you perceive them. There are teachers that have more knowledge of alignment and anatomy. Teachers that focus on spiritual development. Teachers that love stronger practices to encourage and motivate. But also teachers that love to share stories, anecdotes and metaphors. In module 2 and 4 of the Teach Yoga In English Journey, I teach you about the 7 styles of teaching and cues that match them. But just from what I shared here, you can already understand that the right words for teachers who love anatomy and alignment will be focussed on body parts and language for direction and movement. The right words for teachers that focus on spiritual development have a focus on adjectives, descriptive language, feelings, emotions and sensations.
So, step 1 to finding the right words for you is gaining an understanding of the teaching and cueing styles. Therefore, I invite you to reflect on your personality, goals, interests and passions in the world of yoga. If you want some help, take the Quiz: What’s Your Style of Teaching Voice?
Speaking of which, ‘your voice’ brings me to the next point:
2. Find Your Voice
Finding your voice means understanding who you are, developing the skill to express yourself truly, embracing your accent to teach, speak and communicate with confidence. This is where the magic happens.
Instead of blindly copying words, phrases and expressions other teachers use, this is where I invite you to look at others as inspiration. Take the words that resonate with you. Play, experiment and try out new thing to develop your self-expression and make new language points your own. This way you avoid teaching or sounding like ‘another yoga teacher’ but instead learn to speak from your heart, in your unique style. It’s your authentic voice that will resonate most with your students, creating a powerful connections and making them want to come back to your classes time after time.
In our Find Your Voice course, I explain what this step entails in much more depth and give you prompts and worksheets to help you discover your unique qualities. For now, take a moment to reflect on what makes you different and stand out. What makes you you? And what unique qualities, experiences or even knowledge and expertise can you bring into your students lives?
3. Get to know your students
What do I mean by that? As a teacher you lead and guide participants through a yogic experience. Whether it’s an asana class, yin practice, or guided mediation, you’ll probably have an intention. But your students come to class with a purpose too. Based on their needs and experience, you may have to alter your words. Choosing the right words also takes some social skill.
For example, say you love anatomy and alignment, but you receive a student that isn’t at all familiar with anatomy and alignment. If all your cues sound something like ‘external rotation of the femur’, ‘descend the scapula’, ‘bring in line the patella with your ankle joint’, your students will be completely lost and probably won’t return.
For that reason, choosing the right words isn’t about showing off how advanced your vocabulary is, or how much you know. No, it takes some people knowledge and skill to adapt your language to your students needs too.
Therefore, to help you with this, I teach you all these aspects in the Teach Yoga In English Journey too. There you’ll learn to make your words choice, language and communication accessible in terms of individual experiences and cultural differences. But now, reflect on your students needs and how you can adapt your language to their different demographics. One tip: don’t just assume, listening is a superpower!
4. Learn ‘the right words’ that matches your style and students
After you’ve found out about the different styles of teaching and types of cues. And you’ve also defined your authentic voice and understand your students needs, your vocabulary learning will be much easier and fun! Because this way you can kiss goodbye learning everything at once and focus on learning the words you actually need! That means: the right words for you!
In our Yoga Vocabulary Builder, which is an interactive dictionary, I provide you with lists, quizzes, flashcards and other learning techniques to learn over 10 categories of yogic words that suit all different styles of teaching and cueing. It’s truly an amazing resource to learn the words that you really need to teach asana, mindfulness, meditation or other yogic practices and concepts.
What is most important though is that you immerse yourself!
Find ways to immerse yourself in a setting where you can practise teaching and speaking in context. This way you can find a structure to measure and make progress. And of course find enjoyable learning activities that match your personal needs and interests. Also ask for constructive feedback to refine your skills and techniques. Lastly, find inspiration and support from others on the same journey as you!
To learn the right words, there’s not a magic pill or a fast fix. It takes practise and open mindedness to repetition. No one will do the work for you, but I can guarantee that the clearer you are on the words you need, the easier it’ll be to stay focussed and disciplined.
I know that for many of you, teaching yoga in English may feel very far away right now, but I’ve created Enga to offer you a supportive and enjoyable learning experience with language activities that match your unique needs as a yoga teacher.
Whether you choose to work with me on the online learning platform, participate in our community groups on Facebook or WhatsApp, listen to the podcast, read our blog, or join me for these live sessions, I’m here to help you every step of the way. To guide, encourage, and motivate you because I truly believe everyone, so YOU too are capable of teaching yoga in English with confidence and authenticity and make a positive impact on your students!
We’ve covered a lot today, haven’t we?
We’ve explored teaching and cueing styles, finding your voice and authenticity, the importance of knowing your students needs, and how all of that will help you choose and learn the right words. I hope you’ve found this blog useful and I’d love to hear your reflections!
Are you ready to learn more?
Check out our courses and continuing education programmes to optimise your cueing language and communication.
Don’t forget to take the Quiz: What’s Your Style of Teaching Voice?
If want to takes these exact steps; define your teacher identity, find your voice and learn the right vocabulary for you, check out the Teach Yoga In English Starters Bundle!
Check out the Teach Yoga in English Essentials
Or take it a step further and enrol in the Teach Yoga in English Starters Bundle