6 Steps to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher

The 6 Step Process to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher

Listen to 6 Step to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher podcast episode here: 

Having completed your YTT in English or another language, you’re no stranger to effort and commitment. But you also know that when you finish a YTT, the effort and commitment don’t stop there.  Yoga teachers all over the world, and particularly those teaching in their second language(s), face real challenges. Some of those big challenges include yogic studies, developments in research and the evolution of language. These things are constantly moving forward, as we share new theories or experiences, and as time passes. And we yoga teachers have to learn about them and adjust to them, throughout our careers. In this blog we analyse your language journey and the 6 steps to becoming a confident English speaking yoga teacher.

 

In order to lead an effective, inclusive and well-rounded class, you need to be informed. And have specific knowledge about specific topics. For example, the asanas and their energetics, anatomy/body parts, cueing and instructional language, metaphorical/theming language and inclusivity. The list goes on.

 

‘That’s such a yoga teacher thing to say!’ 

Each profession has its own jargon. Jargon is words or phrases that are specific to a group of people, often linked to their job. Even when you’re a native English speaker teaching yoga, you probably don’t know all the words, expressions and vocabulary. At least when you start your job or training. That’s because they aren’t topics of general conversation that you have at college/uni, amongst friends or at language exchanges .This vocabulary is an area of expertise and you don’t often get the opportunity to practise it until you’re on the job. 

 

For a non-native English speaker who wants to teach yoga in English, using the jargon, the challenge is real. The vocabulary you learn in normal English classes simply isn’t the same as what you need for yoga. And it is certainly not what you need for teaching it. 

Let’s explore your yoga teaching skills and what 6 steps to take to become a confident English speaking yoga teacher. They’re designed specifically for non-native English speakers.

 

Stop for a second and respect the challenge you’re taking on

It’s important to start by truly understanding what you are requiring of yourself. Remember that:

  1. Learning a language is a challenge
  2. Speaking a language is a skill
  3. Teaching yoga in English (or a foreign language) is an expertise 

You might be wondering what the difference is between these experiences. In some ways, all three involve their own challenges, required skills and expert knowledge. We are language teachers, too, and we’ve separated these things for a reason. We want to help you understand why teaching yoga in English might seem, or have seemed at one point, too big a challenge to tackle. 

 

Based on our experience teaching students like you, we believe you can make this challenge much more manageable. How?  Break it down into steps. Separating them will help you truly understand what you are expecting of yourself at each stage. This will help you break your language journey down into achievable sub-challenges. 

 

Unachievable goals and expectations will leave you burnt out. They won’t give you the momentum you need to become the confident English speaking yoga teacher you can be. So, let’s break it down into achievable steps!

 

Your language journey broken down

 

1. Learning a language is a challenge

When learning a language, you’re faced with four big challenges all at the same time: speaking, reading, listening and writing. Each of these requires thorough knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. As well as all their different uses and layers of meaning.  

 

It’s a never-ending process. As we continue learning, we just keep increasing what we know and use. Sometimes it feels like the more you know, the more you don’t know!

 

Knowing a language isn’t enough. You might know all the grammar and vocabulary you’ve ever been taught. But there are many things you can’t learn until you experience them.
How about adapting to your students’ different  accents or dialects? What about how one language varies from place to place? How does it change over time and according to history and politics? Cultural context and references are so linked to a language’s vocabulary and structures. 

 

Learning a language is a way of life. And simply learning a language doesn’t mean you can effectively communicate in that language. 

 

This is why it is important that you know your learning objectives. You can’t wait until you have learned every possible thing about the language before you start teaching yoga in English. You won’t use most of the English language in your yoga classes. Learn what you need to teach, then the rest will fall into place with experience.

 

2. Speaking a language is a skill

You can learn some parts of language but the real test is: do you put your knowledge into practice? Making phone calls, doing job interviews and developing real friendships are examples of putting language into practice. Writing and speaking in English in real life situations is key. You need this opportunity to use the things you’ve learned in class or in books, in a practical way. 

 

Doing a vocabulary exercise correctly doesn’t mean you will use the same language accurately, in an uncontrolled situation. For instance, during an interview. There is a common misconception among language learners that we need to unlearn. There is not an instant transition between learning something in theory and using or understanding it independently.  

 

But you can’t prepare for every possible outcome. So, for now, work on balancing a variety of linguistic skills and gaining confidence to use them in uncontrolled conditions. Learning the mechanics of language is the first step. Next, develop those skills to communicate effectively and to express yourself, make yourself understood, as well as understand others. That is the real test of your skills.

 

3. Teaching yoga in English (or a foreign language) is an expertise

When learning how to teach yoga in English as a non-native English speaker, you have to use your language skills to: 

  1. put your language skills into practice to express yourself clearly. Also to understand others in a professional environment, in a very responsible role.
  2. create a safe space for others in which they can explore their mind and body. To do so, use words and expressions that are generally understood and accepted as inclusive. 

As a yoga teacher, you’re helping students to develop their yoga practice. You’re there to transmit the practice, studies or lifestyle of yoga through open, clear and accessible communication. In any language, it takes a lot of communication and linguistic skills to do this. To understand your students and colleagues well enough. To be able to ask appropriate and sensitive questions, and construct careful, informed answers. 

 

It’s important that we receive and send all this information accurately in English. Yoga is a holistic experience. So, teachers potentially influence multiple areas of their students’ lives. We take on the responsibility to be knowledgeable of the practice and the content we choose. And to be alert and aware of our students’ experiences. Being informed and considerate of our students as unique individuals takes work. 

 

Responsibilities of Becoming a Confident Yoga Teacher

We also have to hold ourselves accountable for risks we take and the mistakes we make. We need to communicate a variety of knowledge correctly. Not just of yogic practices, but also of health issues and anatomy. Sometimes it’s education and methodology, or language use. It can also be about the coexistence of cultures, languages, behaviour, and many more.  

 

It’s also about knowing your own boundaries and respecting your students’ boundaries. And also being able to admit when you aren’t in your area of expertise anymore. That’s right – part of your expertise is knowing what you don’t know, and being honest about it!

 

Becoming a confident English speaking yoga teacher 

Now you see how learning to teach yoga is one thing, but learning to teach yoga in another language really takes time, commitment and lots of practice. It involves failing and learning from your mistakes. Which is exactly what you need for the all important ongoing personal and professional development.

 

As a teacher, I often see my students depending on themselves to get to where they want to, all alone. I really don’t advise this. Remember that yoga and the teaching of it is passed down from teacher to student. A teacher is there to support you, give you feedback and help you to grow continuously to reach your full potential. 

 

That’s why observation has been one of the most valuable parts of my professional development. It’s been a part of many of my jobs both as a yoga teacher and an English language teacher. Your observer is not there to judge you, but to give you constructive feedback. Observation is a great learning tool. It highlights the things you do well and the things you can improve. 

 

Seeking help is never a sign of weakness or of not knowing enough. Allowing yourself to receive the support you need can only push you further towards achieving what you want to do with your yoga teaching career. In order to become a confident English speaking yoga teacher, have the courage to discover what you could have more knowledge of. Find out about your areas for improvement, and recognise when it’s time to seek help. And also know where to get that help.

 

So what are the six steps to teaching confidently in English? 

I’ve identified 6 key steps that will help you become a more confident and effective, English-speaking yoga teacher:

 

1. Understand where you’re at and define your goals

Try to understand what you’re good at, what you know already, what you need to improve, and how you can improve this. As an English learner and yoga teacher, this point specifically focuses on vocabulary and your receptive skills (listening and reading) and productive skills (speaking and writing.)

 

After you have worked out what stage you are currently at, it’s time to define your goals.

  • How can you turn those points for improvement into realistic goals? 
  • Where do you want to be in a year from now? 
  • Who, where and what do you want to teach? And why? 
  • Which linguistic skills are your strongest? And which skills could you work on most? 
  • What kind of vocabulary do you struggle to find when you need it? 
  • How can I put myself in situations where I will put my new skills into practice?

Ask yourself detailed questions to find out your inner motivation for learning how to teach yoga in English, and what your goals are based on your present situation.

In fact, if you want to test your English Grammar and Yoga Vocabulary, please feel free to take the test here

 

Setting goals and intentions are necessary to measure improvement and have clear goals to work towards. So, let’s now create an action plan for becoming a confident English speaking yoga teacher. 

 

 

2. Expand your vocabulary bank for cueing and giving instructions

Next,  you can start developing your language for the specific type of yoga you want to teach. For example: yoga for women in the menopause, yoga for children with ADHD, yoga and Ayurveda, yoga for athletes. 

 

All these specific groups have their own lingo and focal points within their practice. This is why it’s so important to define your goals before you start expanding your vocabulary bank. Especially for cueing and giving instructions. 

 

Of course, you do want to get a general understanding of all general yogic vocabulary. Some things are necessary for lots of areas, but make sure the language you use is appropriate for your students and aligns with your teaching objectives. As a result, you will stick to your manageable goals, without trying to learn everything altogether.

 

3. Learn how to deal with difficult, unexpected, new and uncommon situations

Think of people with injuries, people that leave the room or call early, people that complain about aches and pains. Similarly, people that ask for things you’re uncomfortable with such as ‘can I practise naked in your class?’ Or  things you’re unfamiliar with like ‘I have a hip replacement, what asanas can’t I do?’

 

We’re all different, so we deal with these situations differently. But we still need to learn specific language to deal with them respectfully and confidently. Besides, this is an important part of learning a language! When I taught English in a language school, I loved the classes where we’d practise language for disagreement, negotiating or handling complaints. They prepare you for real life! 

 

Remember you can say you don’t know, that you disagree with something, or that you need more time. Feel free to admit you can’t help someone right now. Also, not having the answer and admitting it is a reflection of trustworthiness and honesty. It is not a reflection of your value as a teacher. 

 

Improving how you deal with challenging situations in the future

 

Have you ever felt dissatisfied with how you dealt with a challenging situation? This is normal, but try not to push it to the back of your mind or beat yourself up about it. Equally, it’s tempting to try to forget the past because it can be difficult to relive our mistakes. It’s also easier to be angry or annoyed with yourself than to deal with the source of what actually happened. And some of us never forget about our mistakes and give up or shy away from similar situations or experiences. 

 

But, in order to avoid them in the future, you need to take your responsibility as a yoga teacher, practise Svadhyaya and assess how they happened. Next,  evaluate ‘how can I avoid that in the future?’ ‘what do I need to improve?’, ‘where can I learn this or who/what do I need to learn this from?’

 

4. Understand the different experiences and abilities of your students and learn how to make your classes suitable, personal and adaptable to as many as possible 

When teaching in a studio and even online, you’ll (hopefully) see many different types of students. My teacher once said: ‘The best teachers have a variety of students in their classes – if all the students look the same, the teacher’s likely to teach according to their own body type.’

 

Make your classes suitable, personal and adaptable for everyone. To do so, you’ll first need to learn how to read bodies in-person and online. You’ll need to learn how to recognise what asanas are challenging or less challenging for different body types. You’ll need to learn how to explain variations. Similarly, you must learn to explain the use of props, according to your observation of your students’ needs.

 

Being a confident yoga teacher = being an honest yoga teacher

 

You might not be knowledgeable enough at this point in your career to teach for certain needs and you should not pretend you can. We can’t know everything all the time. Include your students’ different experiences to the point you can responsibly. For example, imagine someone who is pregnant turns up at your class. However, you haven’t studied prenatal yoga. In this case, you must be honest in order to ensure their safety.

 

Normally, being honest with your students about what you can and can’t do will help you gain trust. Being unable to provide for your students is sometimes the best way you can help them at that time. It shows responsibility and understanding. However, it should also cause you to take that responsibility further and learn more general knowledge about it. And that’s true even when it is an area you choose not to train in as a specialism.


Knowledge is something you can gain after realising you don’t have it. Being trustworthy and honest is an integral value that needs nurturing over a lifetime. Students will respect and trust a teacher who goes away to learn more. They won’t trust a teacher who pretends they have the answer(s) and isn’t honest.

 

5. Create a well-rounded experience and offer more than ‘just’ asana – learn how to write mindfulness script, meditation scripts and use metaphorical or language for imagination during your yoga classes

Calling all language learners! Think back to the first time you understood a joke or a sarcastic comment in another language. Without having to think hard about it. How did that feel? I bet you felt a little proud to have reached the next level in your language learning. You must have felt like you were truly effective in that language. Understanding humour and participating in more ‘complex’ conversations is not easy. 

 

The same happens with teaching yoga. One thing is to instruct a yoga class, but another thing is to create an experience. And you know all too well that your students do not come to yoga only to stretch their bodies. Also, they come to enjoy a moment to themselves. They want to connect mind, body and breath. Maybe they want to reflect on specific themes, set intentions, cultivate positive energy or release negative energy. Whatever it is, this type of experience requires more than simple instructions. 

 

Therefore, to become a confident English speaking yoga teacher, it’s important you know how to write and structure scripts. Equally important is knowing how to use metaphorical language, language for imagination and humour appropriately. Also, you’ll need to consider how to do all of this in an inclusive way!

 

6. Reading your students – learn how to read your class and individuals, and choose themes according to what you see, feel and hear when you enter the (Zoom) room 

Sometimes, you have a sequence prepared, know your theme and maybe even a playlist. But when you ‘read the room’ you can tell that, for this class, it isn’t at all appropriate. You might have heard the phrase ‘to read the room’ in your yoga teacher training or heard other teachers say this. What does that actually mean? 

 

It means using  body language, facial expressions, gestures, emotions, feelings, and energies to sense how others feel. For example, in more formal social situations or when you don’t know people very well. It’s about picking up on how others feel or what their opinions are, without them having to tell you.

 

Even when you’re teaching virtually, you can still sense a lot from your students online. You might just have to reassess what clues you look for. For example, online you might not be able to see how a student is walking or signs of tiredness in their face. But you might become more conscious of the depth and pace of their breathing and their intonation as you listen to them.  

 

Learning to adapt to your students/classes builds your confidence 

 

Your class is not about you, but about your students. By really investigating their needs and looking for clues with the knowledge and resources you have, you can adjust your content to them. Adapt your class plans, even take requests, and create classes according to what works for them, at that moment.

 

To offer these personalised classes, it’s important to keep a bank or notebook. Fill it with different types of asanas, sequences and maybe even themes. As a result, you’ll always have something to refer to. You’ll always be prepared in some way, no matter who shows up and what their needs are that day. 

 

Learning to read the room, and adapt to the atmosphere or conditions accordingly, will help you become a more confident teacher. You will go into classes feeling like you can teach comfortably, even if things don’t quite go to plan. 

 

Teach Yoga in English: Mini-Course

If you liked today’s training and would like to find out more, I’ve got a free, 3 day mini-course for you starting on the 7th of September. 

Reserve your spot on the mini-course here

If you’re serious about your learning process I’d love to invite you to apply for the English for Yoga Teachers course where I’ll teach all these 6 steps over a period of 6 months! Find out more about the course here

Listen to 6 Step to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher podcast episode here: 

Why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate

Why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate

Your job as a yoga teacher is more than just teaching a class. You put a lot of thought into the preparation such as writing your sequences and scripts, creating playlists and collecting mantras, quotes and affirmations to make your classes meaningful. Online and in person you promote your classes, make an effort to inform your (future) students or clients of where they can find you, what you offer, and how this improves their lives. Chances are that you also write a weekly email, entertain your social media following, spend time bookkeeping, and try hard to stay informed about your yogic studies. At least, that’s what you would like to do, but procrastination keeps creeping up on you. In this blog, I’m looking at why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate. I’m going to explain how this stops your growth.

What actually is procrastination? 

Procrastination is often described as having the intention of doing something, yet postponing completing it. When you procrastinate, you delay your responsibilities, tasks, wishes or goals. It might be because you overthink or overcomplicate them. But, it could also be because of a type of fear, resistance and even a lack of understanding of procrastination. Almost always, procrastination results in more stress. 

People that procrastinate a lot often refer to the term ‘impostor syndrome’. Impostor syndrome is an emotional circumstance in which you believe your achievements are not real or that you don’t deserve praise or success for them. You also don’t think you are capable of achieving what you want to or what others expect of you. You might feel you’re not experienced, knowledgeable, or skillful enough to have been or be responsible for success. It could well be one of the reasons why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate.

The pros of procrastination

In our society, procrastination often gets judged or is labeled as something negative. But, procrastination also has positive qualities. 

For example: You want to organise a workshop for new mums. It’s your first time and you don’t really know how to organise yourself and what content to include. But, you know you need to make it happen at some point.

When we procrastinate, we put off important tasks and decisions. Often we postpone making the essential foundational decisions such as securing venue deposits and confirming dates. Those official things seem like big commitments we might not feel ready for, so we delay. Our brains prefer the smaller things that we can change later. 

So, you catch yourself thinking about all the details: we find ourselves playing with flyer designs, what essential oils to bring, and pondering the workshop details like worksheet activities. Maybe these things shouldn’t be a priority now, but they do need to be thought about properly at some point!

Procrastination can be good because we overthink smaller things ahead of time, meaning we don’t forget them or leave them until the last minute. It can help you to build on your ideas, allow yourself to become more creative and consider new options, aims, or designs. They help you to connect with your audience and think through the details earlier. It means you make better considered decisions throughout the process. 

Think of it as brainstorming to really offer the best you can. It’s likely your clients will notice those details and add to the overall good impression you need to give.

The cons of procrastination

Procrastination in moderation can have pros, and putting something off once in a while shouldn’t be a big deal. However, overthinking and procrastination can soon become long-term (chronic). Chronic procrastination often happens due to lack of confidence, clarity or fears (I’ll explain these fears in the free webinar: Overcoming Procrastination By Using Your Yoga Teacher Toolbox). It can cause stress, anxiety and fatigue. Some other common symptoms are feeling stuck, trapped or caught in a pattern. It’ll not surprise you that procrastination limits your growth and potential and really could have a negative effect on your self-worth and overall well-being. 

Chronic procrastination could also be a sign of a condition such as depression, ADD, ADHD or anxiety. But, for most of us, procrastination is often an emotional reaction to something that you don’t feel ready to do. The idea of performing or carrying out the task is so unpleasant that you would rather sabotage yourself or the situation. You feel that you either don’t have the ability or the willingness to confront it. Overthinking and procrastination are obstacles that  stop you from being who you are and who you could be. Let’s find out why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate!

Why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate

Being an all-round yoga teacher is a diverse job and requires a lot more than you might have imagined when you first obtained your Yoga Teacher Certificate. It could be that you’re working multiple jobs or teaching many, many classes. Over the years, with technology and online yoga becoming more popular, the yoga teaching market and teachers’ responsibilities have changed dramatically. Staying up-to-date can feel overwhelming. 

Have a look at the following statements – do you recognise yourself in one of them?

  • How do I continue? I feel stuck, lost, or don’t know what to do next
  • Where do I start? or I don’t know how to start
  • I don’t have time, or I have too much on my plate

These are some very common thoughts and beliefs among procrastinators. When you’re in the middle of it, it might feel that that really is the case. But as a yoga teacher, you know best, that there’s always a deeper problem: the root problem. 

The root problem of procrastination comes down to self-doubt, lack of confidence, unrealistic goals or lack of clarity. The good news is that you don’t need to gain self-confidence before you can continue with your plans. Do the exercise below to take your first step into learning to beat procrastination so that you can do the things you keep postponing. As you finally complete these tasks, your self-confidence will grow! 

In our next blog, I’ll speak about productivity for yoga teachers and help you reduce procrastination by learning how to trust yourself and improve confidence. But, for today, I want you to do some introspection and practise Svadhyaya: self-study. 

Reflect and meditate on your root problem

Sit down and write or reflect on the following questions:

  1. In your yoga teaching career, what do you delay doing when you procrastinate? (e.g. writing a sequence, starting your online yoga business, shooting yoga classes for YouTube).
  2. Listen to your emotions when you think about the thing you’re neglecting when  procrastinating. (e.g. I feel a fear of failure, I feel useless or unprepared, I’m bored and can’t be bothered). 

  1. Examine and write down the root of these thoughts and emotions (e.g. I feel scared that others are better than me, I don’t feel I have the skills or knowledge or I can’t be bothered because my goals are unrealistic).

  1. Look at the reasons ‘why’ you came up with in question 3. Now turn your reasons for procrastination into the opposite of your problem (e.g. ‘I’m afraid I don’t have the skills or knowledge’ = make an effort to pick up your studies; do research and obtain the skills and knowledge you need. ‘My goals are unrealistic’ = set smaller goals or make a step-by-step plan; you’re not in a rush.) 

AND MAKE IT WORK!

  1. Be realistic and decide how much time you really need to get through your tasks, goals and to-do list. Plan it in your diary and stick to your plan. Turn off all distractions and take your procrastination seriously! The more often you actually follow up on your plans and do the things you need to do, the more you’ll learn to trust yourself.

  1. Finished your task(s)? Celebrate! Treat yourself for every little win! This doesn’t only make you feel better about the little achievements you make – it also helps your mind to see what you are  capable of. You deserve to be rewarded for your efforts! 


On the 1st of September 2021, I’m hosting a live webinar for Overcoming Procrastination By Using Your Yoga Teacher Toolbox. Register for the webinar below.

FREE Webinar:

  • find out what type of procrastinator you are
  • understand the reasons why you procrastinate
  • discover your underlying fears
  • learn how to use your yoga teacher toolbox to overcome procrastination

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    What to include in your yoga teacher cv

    What to include in your yoga teacher CV

    Have you (just) finished your yoga teacher training? Seen a teaching opportunity? Or are you looking for a new teaching job? You know you love teaching yoga and you’ve got a lot to offer to yoga studios, schools or even gyms. However, you probably need to hand in your CV (curriculum vitae). In this blog, I’ll give you a step by step plan for what to include in a great yoga teacher CV.   

    Writing a yoga teacher CV is a strategic task. Allow yourself to really take all the time you need for it. Before you list all your skills and experiences and call it a day, it’s important to reflect, do some research and find clear answers to the following questions: 

    1. What type of establishment are you interested in working for?

    (E.g. a yoga school, yoga studio, a gym, a community centre, etc.).

    2. What type of classes are you trained in and willing to offer?

    (E.g. vinyasa, ashtanga, yin, Yoga Teacher Training material or workshop based activities).

    3. What are the core values or mission statement of the establishment you want to apply for?

    (E.g. Do they purposefully promote inclusivity? Are their classes geared towards an older audience? Or are they more focused on offering a form exercise?)

    4. Who will be receiving your CV?

    (E.g. is it a studio owner, a frontdesk assistant or an HR manager?)

    5. What type of qualifications, certificates and (continuing) education have you completed to become a teacher?

    (E.g. Maybe you’ve obtained a 200 Yoga Teacher Certificate and 50h of continuing education in yogic history).

    6. What type of skills and experience do you have that ‘they’ are interested in? 

    (E.g. it’s unlikely that your future employer wants to hear about the subjects you took in high school. But they will want to know about your experience working in marketing for a yoga or wellness  brand).

    The answers to these questions will help you massively in knowing what to include in your yoga teacher CV. 

    Let’s analyse the ‘steps’ to creating your yoga teacher CV.

    1. Name & title 

    Write down your first name(s), your last name(s) and any titles, letters or pronouns you use. Optionally, you could include the styles of yoga you’re trained in.

    For example:

    • Maria Joanna Fernandez Murcia – 200HR RYT* Hatha/Vinyasa
      she / her

    *Note: RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher / CYT stands for Certified Yoga Teacher.

    2. Contact details:

    • Email: if at all possible, try to use a professional email address that’s not something like ‘yolo@hotmail.com
    • Phone: especially if you live or want to apply to work abroad, or you’re on the road, include your country code.
    • Website: this is a great optional feature if you have one.
    • Social media: if you use social media to promote your classes and services, you can include links to your Facebook page and Instagram account. 

    Consider deleting any images online that could give off a bad impression, such as party pictures or posts you shared in the past but wouldn’t share now. If you prefer, make your account invisible. Remember there are many employers that will look for you on social media, even if you haven’t provided your links. 

    For example:

    • mariayoga@yogamaria.com
      +34 123 456 789
      www.mariayoga.com.es
      @mariayoga

    Make sure that all of these details are up-to-date and people can actually reach you. You’ll be surprised to see how often people miss out on great opportunities because they didn’t update their contact details.

    3. Teaching & work experience

    After you’ve listed your contact details, you’ll describe your teaching experience. Do this in chronological order, from the most recent to the earliest experience. If you haven’t got any teaching experience yet, you can skip part A and go straight to B: relevant work experience.

    A) Yoga teaching experience:

    1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
    2. State your role and the time period you worked there
    3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there


    For example:

    • Lotus Yoga Studio | Barcelona, Spain 
      Yin & Vinyasa Yoga Teacher | September 2020 – current
      Thorough class preparation for multi-level classes and daily studio set-up
      Sequencing and designing creative classes according to seasonal themes
      Monthly teacher assistant at recurring moon ritual workshops
      Nurturing student-teacher relationships by making an effort to get to know each individual
      Encouraging new students to join Lotus Yoga Studio through social media and word-of-mouth 

    B) Work-experience:

    Here you’ll write down every other job that has contributed to your skills development. Think of jobs that display the knowledge you have of specific material or programmes. It could be experience with a specific group of people or jobs that display you show initiative and are a team player.

    These experiences might only be linked by ‘transferable skills’. These are skills which you originally developed for one role, but can be applied directly to another role. For example, my first job was in administration for a language school. I learned skills for booking classes/courses, writing formally, taking and recording payments and filing documents. My next job was a receptionist at a yoga centre. The fields are completely different, but my root skills were valuable for both roles.

    1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
    2. State your role and the time period you worked there
    3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there 

    For example:

    • International Language School  – Seville, Spain
      Front-Desk Agent – June 2019 – September 2020
      • Responsible for booking private and group classes with software such as Sutra, Mindbody, and Moomoo yoga
      • Marketing, communication and public relations on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram)
      • Customer service: register new students, answer phone calls, answer questions about the curriculum, and give recommendations

    4. Training and education

    Your yoga teaching certification or the fact you’ve taught yoga classes are not the only thing that will be considered in your application. Here, list all the types of education you have that have built up your current knowledge. They could be diplomas, certificates, continuing education, but also degrees or exams that are relevant for the job you’d like to apply for.

    Follow this structure:

    • Course title (classification/level) 
    • Name of the school or education centre
    • Time period

    For example: 

    • 200HR Yoga Teacher Training
      Beautiful Soul Studio – Seville, Spain
      June 2019
    • Bachelor of Science – Psychology 
      University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
      September 2014 – May 2019

    5. Other skills that are relevant

    List here all the skills that are relevant to this teaching job. Think of your technology skills: using Zoom, IG Live, YouTube or other video platforms. You could also include your marketing, communication, organisation, and collaboration skills. 

    For example:

    • Social media skills:
      Photo and video editing
      Planoly, Later
      Instagram (all features)
      Facebook Business
      YouTube Studio

    • Teaching skills:
      Creative prop-use
      Trauma informed
      Chair yoga
      Advanced anatomy
      Inclusivity and diversity

    I hope this little guide has given you some clarity and helped you to determine what to include when you create your yoga teacher CV. If you’d like to learn more about creating a yoga teacher CV, join us for our English for Yoga Teachers Course. 

    In the English for Yoga Teachers Course, we’ll explore important things such as the design, fonts and colours. Whether to include your insurance or Yoga Alliance registration. The type of language and tenses to write in. And we’ll clear up common questions like if you should use a photo and how to find the right synonyms that really describe you and make your CV stand out. In our English for Yoga Teachers Course, I’ll get super specific and explain what more to include and how to create a killer yoga teacher CV. 

    Have you (just) finished your yoga teacher training? Seen a teaching opportunity? Or are you looking for a new teaching job? You know you love teaching yoga and you’ve got a lot to offer to yoga studios, schools or even gyms. However, you probably need to hand in your CV (curriculum vitae). In this blog, I’ll give you a step by step plan for what to include in a great yoga teacher CV.   

    Writing a yoga teacher CV is a strategic task. Allow yourself to really take all the time you need for it. Before you list all your skills and experiences and call it a day, it’s important to reflect, do some research and find clear answers to the following questions: 

    1. What type of establishment are you interested in working for?

    (E.g. a yoga school, yoga studio, a gym, a community centre, etc.).

    2. What type of classes are you trained in and willing to offer?

    (E.g. vinyasa, ashtanga, yin, Yoga Teacher Training material or workshop based activities).

    3. What are the core values or mission statement of the establishment you want to apply for?

    (E.g. Do they purposefully promote inclusivity? Are their classes geared towards an older audience? Or are they more focused on offering a form exercise?)

    4. Who will be receiving your CV?

    (E.g. is it a studio owner, a frontdesk assistant or an HR manager?)

    5. What type of qualifications, certificates and (continuing) education have you completed to become a teacher?

    (E.g. Maybe you’ve obtained a 200 Yoga Teacher Certificate and 50h of continuing education in yogic history).

    6. What type of skills and experience do you have that ‘they’ are interested in? 

    (E.g. it’s unlikely that your future employer wants to hear about the subjects you took in high school. But they will want to know about your experience working in marketing for a yoga or wellness  brand).

    The answers to these questions will help you massively in knowing what to include in your yoga teacher CV. 

    Let’s analyse the ‘steps’ to creating your yoga teacher CV.

    1. Name & title 

    Write down your first name(s), your last name(s) and any titles, letters or pronouns you use. Optionally, you could include the styles of yoga you’re trained in.

    For example:

    • Maria Joanna Fernandez Murcia – 200HR RYT* Hatha/Vinyasa
      she / her

    *Note: RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher / CYT stands for Certified Yoga Teacher.

    2. Contact details:

    • Email: if at all possible, try to use a professional email address that’s not something like ‘yolo@hotmail.com
    • Phone: especially if you live or want to apply to work abroad, or you’re on the road, include your country code.
    • Website: this is a great optional feature if you have one.
    • Social media: if you use social media to promote your classes and services, you can include links to your Facebook page and Instagram account. 

    Consider deleting any images online that could give off a bad impression, such as party pictures or posts you shared in the past but wouldn’t share now. If you prefer, make your account invisible. Remember there are many employers that will look for you on social media, even if you haven’t provided your links. 

    For example:

    • mariayoga@yogamaria.com
      +34 123 456 789
      www.mariayoga.com.es
      @mariayoga

    Make sure that all of these details are up-to-date and people can actually reach you. You’ll be surprised to see how often people miss out on great opportunities because they didn’t update their contact details.

    3. Teaching & work experience

    After you’ve listed your contact details, you’ll describe your teaching experience. Do this in chronological order, from the most recent to the earliest experience. If you haven’t got any teaching experience yet, you can skip part A and go straight to B: relevant work experience.

    A) Yoga teaching experience:

    1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
    2. State your role and the time period you worked there
    3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there


    For example:

    • Lotus Yoga Studio | Barcelona, Spain 
      Yin & Vinyasa Yoga Teacher | September 2020 – current
      Thorough class preparation for multi-level classes and daily studio set-up
      Sequencing and designing creative classes according to seasonal themes
      Monthly teacher assistant at recurring moon ritual workshops
      Nurturing student-teacher relationships by making an effort to get to know each individual
      Encouraging new students to join Lotus Yoga Studio through social media and word-of-mouth 

    B) Work-experience:

    Here you’ll write down every other job that has contributed to your skills development. Think of jobs that display the knowledge you have of specific material or programmes. It could be experience with a specific group of people or jobs that display you show initiative and are a team player.

    These experiences might only be linked by ‘transferable skills’. These are skills which you originally developed for one role, but can be applied directly to another role. For example, my first job was in administration for a language school. I learned skills for booking classes/courses, writing formally, taking and recording payments and filing documents. My next job was a receptionist at a yoga centre. The fields are completely different, but my root skills were valuable for both roles.

    1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
    2. State your role and the time period you worked there
    3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there 

    For example:

    • International Language School  – Seville, Spain
      Front-Desk Agent – June 2019 – September 2020
      • Responsible for booking private and group classes with software such as Sutra, Mindbody, and Moomoo yoga
      • Marketing, communication and public relations on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram)
      • Customer service: register new students, answer phone calls, answer questions about the curriculum, and give recommendations

    4. Training and education

    Your yoga teaching certification or the fact you’ve taught yoga classes are not the only thing that will be considered in your application. Here, list all the types of education you have that have built up your current knowledge. They could be diplomas, certificates, continuing education, but also degrees or exams that are relevant for the job you’d like to apply for.

    Follow this structure:

    • Course title (classification/level) 
    • Name of the school or education centre
    • Time period

    For example: 

    • 200HR Yoga Teacher Training
      Beautiful Soul Studio – Seville, Spain
      June 2019
    • Bachelor of Science – Psychology 
      University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
      September 2014 – May 2019

    5. Other skills that are relevant

    List here all the skills that are relevant to this teaching job. Think of your technology skills: using Zoom, IG Live, YouTube or other video platforms. You could also include your marketing, communication, organisation, and collaboration skills. 

    For example:

    • Social media skills:
      Photo and video editing
      Planoly, Later
      Instagram (all features)
      Facebook Business
      YouTube Studio

    • Teaching skills:
      Creative prop-use
      Trauma informed
      Chair yoga
      Advanced anatomy
      Inclusivity and diversity

    I hope this little guide has given you some clarity and helped you to determine what to include when you create your yoga teacher CV. If you’d like to learn more about creating a yoga teacher CV, join us for our English for Yoga Teachers Course

    In the English for Yoga Teachers Course, we’ll explore important things such as the design, fonts and colours. Whether to include your insurance or Yoga Alliance registration. The type of language and tenses to write in. And we’ll clear up common questions like if you should use a photo and how to find the right synonyms that really describe you and make your CV stand out. In our English for Yoga Teachers Course, I’ll get super specific and explain what more to include and how to create a killer yoga teacher CV. 

    Your learning style is unique (incl. free worksheet)

    Your Learning Style is Unique

    Teaching and learning methods vary from country to country, and from school to school. However, most of us are educated in relatively big groups. As a result, school systems have to try to meet the needs of every ‘type’ of student. That means that all learning styles, learning outcomes and assessments are standardised. A bit like hats, they’re ‘one size fits all’. However, your learning style is unique

    The aim of this blog is to help you reflect on your past and on current education systems. You’ll think  more about how you and others process information. This might help you consider other ways to work and study more productively. If you’re a teacher, it will also help you understand your students’ needs better. 

    To do so, there are journal questions at the end of each section which you can use for guidance. Download the worksheet here so that every time you see “Go to journal questions” you can make the most of your learning experience . 


    Go to journal questions (A) You can download your worksheet here.

    Our brains function in unique ways 

    They determine how we receive and process different kinds of information. Think of a maths problem. One student will find playing with the numbers and equations a logical thing that simply makes sense. But another student will struggle to connect those figures to any kind of meaning, leaving them unable to find the correct answer.

    It’s likely that the gap in their experiences is due to the students’ natural ways of thinking. And the fact that their learning style is unique. We naturally relate more to some types of activities and ideas than we do to others.

    Finding something difficult doesn’t mean you will never be able to do it. What’s important is to find the right way for you to absorb the information. It’s finding out your brain’s preferred way of processing it. Once you know that, you might know how to approach a task better. You might also be able to reconsider how you present tasks or instructions to your students.

    Giving us all information in the same way puts us as individuals in different, and unequal, positions. This is why school is a difficult experience for so many people but an easy one for others. It isn’t just about ability. It depends on your unique learning style. 

    Answer these questions with the intention of understanding how you are as a student. This will help you see if there are better ways for you to work. It will also help you practise analysing how other people process tasks and information.


    Go to journal questions (B)!You can download your worksheet here..

    What is neurodiversity?

    Until now,  this blog has only referred to learning style variations that are really only ‘neurotypical’ ways of thinking and interpreting information. Neurotypical means not associated with a brain condition, such as autism which affects a person’s interpretation of information. So, it can describe a person who doesn’t have a brain condition or characteristic like this. 

    Although these concepts aren’t black and white, in linguistic terms, the opposite could be  ‘neurodivergent’. A neurodivergent brain learns information and functions in less common ways. This could include people with autism, dyslexia or dyscalculia, for example. ‘Less common’ but more common than we might think. 

    In order to accommodate everyone’s way of thinking and learning, we must talk about ‘neurodiversity’.  Neurodiversity is the idea that people have many different types of brains, perhaps characterised by a particular condition. It also refers to the idea that this variety should be considered a normal part of human life.  

    Whether a person identifies as neurotypical, neurodivergent, or something in between, there are ways of providing education that suits everyone. We know enough about how brains function to move away from such a standardised system for teaching and learning. Perhaps the first step to this is normalising neurodiversity; the fact that our brains are not ‘one size fits all’.  

    What does this have to do with my unique learning style? 

    These things face  a similar root problem. Our education systems rely on a version of ‘normality’ which excludes many people based on the way their brains function. But I believe that the way our brains work is too complex for us to consider them either ‘typical’ or ‘atypical’; ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. 

    Normality suggests there’s one way of being and this isn’t true. What’s really normal is extremely varied and diverse. Imagine if our brain diversity was normalised. There would be a better understanding of how each person’s learning style is unique, whether or not they identify as having a specific brain condition or characteristic. 

    Perhaps, as teachers, our awareness of this can stop us from treating individuals as if they are ‘different’, and a bigger group as ‘all the same’. We can communicate that everyone’s brain and learning style is unique, and that doesn’t have to be an obstacle.

    Nowadays we  know how to make classes, schools, shops and websites more accessible for our neurodiversity and different learning styles. Surely it’s a realistic expectation also that we, as a society, can learn about learning diversity and the basic aspects of neurodiversity. We’ll see  that these variations are already normal. We need to see it that way, and adapt our systems to everyone’s unique learning style

    Go to journal questions (C)! You can download your worksheet here.

    Your schooling might have neglected your learning style

    Actually, if we consider the huge scale of neurodiversity and different characteristics of different learning styles, it probably did. Unfortunately, mass education systems don’t have the luxury of time and resources that allow teachers to deal with your unique learning style, and everyone else’s. So, we grow up in similar school systems, with similar rules and similar techniques, which generally constitute one standardised way of learning. Reflect on how they taught you. Think back to your school days, or the early days of your education. How did you have to learn? Common methods are drilling, memorisation and written tests. 


    Go to journal questions (D)! You can download your worksheet here.

    What’s your best way of learning?

    Most of us use a mixture of different methods when we’re trying to learn something. That’s often why some people fall behind in their education experience – their learning needs aren’t catered for as much as those of some other students. 

    We are not like each other. We don’t learn the same way, so it’s important that we know what learning methods work best for us. To learn what you want to, and do what you want to do, you’ll need to get inside your brain! Reflect on how you enjoy learning. Assess how your brain likes to find information. How do you record that information in order to come back to it? And what kind of information catches your eye? 

    Go to journal questions (E) on your worksheet! You can download your worksheet here.

    Use the following useful links to do the research for these questions.

    Find out some more on learning styles:

    Find out more about neurodivergent characteristics and what this means in the workplace:

    If you want to learn more about this, soon we’ll talk about reprogramming your idea of learning. On our online learning platform, you’ll find more materials such as quizzes to explore the topic further. We’ll also look at how you can use yoga as a learning tool! You’ll be able to reflect on how you think you learn and what you expect from yourself. Maybe you can reassess your expectations to make your work and study goals more realistic. Hopefully you’ll also see how yoga can make a further positive impact on your life, and the lives of your students. More about this coming (in September 2021).


    (Note: The aim of this is to reflect; to open our minds and ask questions about the learning experience in order to develop as teachers. We are not inclusivity experts, doctors, speech therapists, sociologists or psychologists! Find approved courses and reliable educational sources if you want to get professional development in specific areas.)

    3 Things yoga teachers often neglect or forget

    Things yoga teachers often neglect or forget

    Neglecting something means that you’re not taking care of it, not taking care of it properly or that you believe you don’t have time for it. Today we’re speaking about three very common things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget. It’s kind of an extension of our previous blog about 5 common mistakes (new) yoga teachers make. The things mentioned in this blog are not necessarily mistakes, just things we sometimes forget or neglect. In other words, you don’t make them a priority.

     

    Let’s dive in! 

     

    1. Self-practice and self-care 

    ‘I don’t have time to practise yoga and mindfulness, to journal or practise any type of self-care.’

    Teachers often justify this with two common scenarios: 

    • ‘My students are my priority’
      When you’re serving others, it’s natural you want to put the needs or your clients or students first. As a result, you sacrifice your own practice and time. You might even tell yourself that the well-being of your students will in turn help your own well-being. Therefore you allow yourself to sacrifice your self-practice and self-care. You convince yourself that your students’ needs are more important than your own, and you neglect them.  
    • ‘I’m too busy’
      Your busy schedule, family life, or other jobs can leave you with very little time throughout the week. So by the time each day ends, you’re desperate for a moment of mindlessness. Watching TV or scrolling through social media for example; anything that doesn’t require mental effort. You could feel the need to somehow escape from reality, even if it’s just for a moment.

    These may sound familiar, but you could experience completely different scenarios in your life. Whatever they’re about, the key is that many of them help you to justify not making yourself a priority. What are your scenarios? Do they reassure you that your own practice and self-care are dispensable activities?

    Don’t neglect to take care of yourself!

    How can you possibly serve others if you’re not taking care of yourself? 

    Your energy, love and nurture have to come from somewhere. You need the physical and mental resources in order to care for others. Our resources can be things like time, energy, generating a productive mindset, keeping a safe and comfortable home, and a healthy mind and body. All of those things need maintenance and regular replenishing. We are like plants – without the right amount of water and sun at the right times, we can’t hope to grow or give life to others. 

    Those are some of the fundamental ways in which self-practice is necessary. But as teachers, self-practice and self-care are especially important. 

    Making them part of your routine:

    • gives you the skills and ability to speak from your experience and explain things more clearly
    • helps you understand why some things work and why other things don’t, or why certain things are and aren’t challenging, feel or don’t feel right.
    • teaches you about yourself, increasing how compassionate you are with yourself and your students
    • sets a good example: as a teacher, you’re like a parent or role-model. Students will often copy you and you want to help them make progress. So, show them! Practise what you preach. 

     

    So, what could my self-practice look like?

    Self-practice doesn’t have to mean a daily dynacharia (ayurvedic routine), 1.5 hour asana practice, 30 mins of pranayama and 30+ mins of meditation. 

    Self-practice can be whatever helps you to check in with your own senses, recharge your batteries, obtain the energy you need to fully show up for your students. They are daily activities of your choice that you do to be present and find strength so that you can listen and pay attention to your students. Guide and support them on their journey with compassion. Your self-practice could include the obvious things such as asana, pranayama or mindfulness. But it could also be a bath, a walk in the park, reading or listening to podcasts.

     

    2. Centring yourself before class 

    The second of the three things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget. And let’s start with a question:

    How do you arrive at your class? 

    Do you live in a busy place and are often stuck in traffic? Do you home-school your children and teach in between. Do you do another job and have meetings just before your class? Do you end up arriving late to your own class? 

    Many teachers show up to their class at the last minute. Life is surprising and sometimes unexpected things come up  just at the wrong moment. But you know the difference between that and simply not leaving yourself enough time to get fully prepared. 

    It’s so important to reserve extra time before your class starts! Imagine school students entering a classroom before the teacher has arrived. How can the teacher own the place again? To teach your class carefully and confidently, you need a few minutes alone to feel grounded in the space. Teaching begins before the class starts.  

    Don’t forget that teachers set examples 

     Tell yourself your class starts 15 minutes earlier to prevent yourself from forgetting or neglecting time for preparation. Get on your mat and move your body. Revise your script. Light a candle, incense, a diffuser, or whatever you like to use in your class. Spend a moment in a child’s pose or sukhasana. Listen to your playlist (make sure it’s not on shuffle). 

    It’s a moment in which you take the time for yourself to get centred – check in with how you feel! Arrive in your practice. You know it only takes a few breaths to calm down, so make use of your yoga teacher toolbox. This grounding and centering will make you feel more prepared. You’ll probably lead the class feeling less distracted and your ideas will seem more organised. If you aren’t in this ‘space’, your students can sense it too. And you certainly can’t expect them to get into a mindset that you aren’t in yourself. 

    I bet that as you start your classes, you probably ask your students to arrive on their mat and leave the day behind. So follow your own example and take some time before class to do this yourself!

     

    3. Make your students your priority in class

    Another of the three things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget is the idea of orientating our classes around our students.


    Teaching classes should be about your students. Not you. It isn’t about what you can do or what you know. Good classes are not social media; they aren’t a platform for showing off. Nor are they about if or how well you can do things, or if you know enough. Your classes are not a time for you to prove anything to anyone about you as a teacher. 

    Whether through self-doubt or self-confidence, your self-consciousness is not only because you care too much about what others think of you. It’s more complex than that. Insecurities, limiting beliefs and an irrational interpretation of yourself can all contribute to self-consciousness. They might be rooted in your childhood and your past, or they could be more recent developments. 

    Our first experiences as teachers and professionals can also build up a sense of instability. However, we make the class about ourselves if we focus on how we come across, how we present ourselves and our classes, or how much our students like us (or not). Shifting your focus away from yourself and onto the students is something (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget. But doing so can totally change things for our students. 

    In order to centre your classes around your students in the future, you can:

    1. Connect with your students before class: ask them about their day, their needs and desires for class. If possible, tailor your class last minute to include things they might find helpful.
    2. Avoid thinking for your students: we approach everything from our own experience and as teachers we sometimes make assumptions or generalisations too soon. Listen to your students and ask them about their personal experiences or opinions instead of putting words into their mouths, especially when they struggle to express themselves in English
    3. Observe and check-in with your students while they practise: look at them and give them personalised cues if the class is small enough. If the class is big, give generalised cues but ones that will benefit everyone. Don’t be afraid to get off your mat and check how they’re doing!
    4. Ask your students how they feel after class: what did they like? What was challenging or difficult to follow? Take their feedback as something to learn from, not to feel judged and bad. I don’t know a single teacher who hasn’t received some kind of negative feedback. Accept that it’s a possibility and see it as a learning point.

     

    To summarise

    These three things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget can take time and patience to change. But being aware of them is the biggest step. You might recognise yourself in some of these things – I know I do. 

    We shouldn’t judge ourselves for forgetting or neglecting these things, but this blog aims to create awareness. Hopefully, they will give you something to think about for yourself and from now on you can notice how you might have slipped into these habits. More importantly, you can now think about how to unlearn them. Take some time for reflection: which of these three things have/do you neglect or forget as a teacher? How can you change things around, starting today? 

     

    Want more like this? 

    Register for the 10 tips for multilingual yoga teachers to work on your professional development with a daily 2-minute video. And, join our online community of multilingual yoga teachers: Teach Yoga in English Support Group!

    Five common mistakes (new) yoga teachers make

    5 Common Mistakes (New) Yoga Teachers Make

    Listen to our podcast: 5 Common Mistakes (New) Yoga Teachers Make.

    We can only teach from the perspective of our current experience and knowledge. So that means that when we look back at the way we used to do things, it’s very likely we recognise some mistakes we’ve made in the past. We are also still learners of the teaching profession and, as we develop, we hope to make improvements and do things better as time goes on. There are several things we can do independently in order to improve our own teaching skills. We can evaluate our own teaching after classes by noting down things that went well and not so well. We can keep a teaching journal to help us remember and solve problems we had during class. Doing such things helps us to plan our future classes based on what we know does and doesn’t work. But these are quite gradual processes and it can take us time to realise our mistakes. I hear you asking ‘what kind of things can I be more aware of today?’ In this blog, we explain five common mistakes (new) yoga teachers make to fast-track your professional development!

    Five practical and very common mistakes (new) yoga teachers make

    These are some common things many teachers do and probably don’t even notice. I’ve chosen five that I have found are particularly problematic when teaching international and multilingual yoga classes in English. They cover two categories: being more aware of the language we use, and being more aware of our behaviour and attitude during our classes. Sometimes the two merge.

    Language

    1. Passive language 

    These phrases show that someone unknown, unimportant or obvious did an action to an object. They focus on the object receiving the action: not the subject doing the action. 

    Other examples of the passive in a yoga class:

    ‘Come into eagle pose, the right leg is hooked under the left leg’
    ‘Stand in tadasana, the arms are lifted up to the ceiling’. 

     ‘Passive language’ focuses on the object and ignores the reason why we’re in a yoga class: to become present or create presence. In the examples above, the passive focusses on a body part and not ‘I’ as a subject who has the ability to do the action. The passive takes away our agency and ownership of our yoga practice. Passive language isn’t only more complex, but also takes away the attention from the action in the present moment.

    Instead, use simpler, active cues in a yoga class:

    Cross your left leg over your right, eagle pose’
    Stand in tadasana, lift your arms next to your ears’. 

    2. Look at me, like this/that/so

    Sometimes it’s challenging to describe certain actions, especially to multilingual students. So, we ask people to look at us doing the action instead. It is often easier to show them what you mean instead of finding the words.  

    However, when we ask people to stop and look at you to watch what we’re doing, we take away from the experience on the mat. Concentration is disrupted.

    Depending on the pose, causing people to move their heads and necks into unnatural positions just to see the screen could cause discomfort and, potentially, injury.

    Try not to rely on them looking at your video for guidance. Instead, learn effective cues that people understand straight away so that they can follow you without having to look at you. This is important for when there’s no video available, when you’re teaching with audio only or if a student has a visual impairment.

    3. Non-inclusive language 

    This is a big one. See Ways of Being Inclusive in Your English Yoga Classes  and Ways of Including ‘Every Body’ in Your English Yoga Classes for more to do with inclusivity. Today I’ll simply draw your attention to some examples of major problem areas which are simple to change today:

    • Speaking about levels or using words associated with level (i.e. ‘beginner’)
    • Addressing people using gendered words, commenting on physical characteristics or making assumptions based on physical characteristics (i.e. suggesting all women have periods or assuming someone uses the pronoun ‘she’ when they actually identify with ‘they’)
    • Praising and calling out people by their name in group classes (i.e. praise everyone, not individuals)

    Attitudes and impressions

    4. Making the class all about the teacher

    Who’s the priority in a class? The teacher or the students? And what does good teaching mean? Does it mean showing how good the teacher is at something? How much knowledge they have? Teachers often feel the need to prove that they know enough to teach. But isn’t it supposed to be about your students? We should focus on listening to their needs, their desires and their personal stories: not projecting our own ones.

    Teaching is about serving your students, meeting them where they’re at and creating or designing an experience that serves them so that they lead their own yoga journey. 

    Often teachers are so worried about how they come across and how good their students think they are. We worry about knowing the right words, doing the asanas right, our students liking us enough to come back. We’re often very focussed on ourselves while teaching! It’s normal and these are not necessarily egocentric things. They’re more likely to be a result of insecurities or limiting beliefs. 

    However, try and turn the story around. Arrive to your class 15 mins early. Move your body, revise your sequence, and play a playlist if you use music. Greet your students, get to know their names. Ask them how they’re doing and focus on their experience. What do they need from you right now? How can you serve them? What’s something you needed, or still need, when you go to a yoga class? How can you offer this to your students now? Maybe they happen to be low on energy and you can then adapt your plan to that: add a couple of extra restorative poses. Think of a quote, an affirmation or a phrase you know that might help them today. Maybe it’s something you needed to hear and you can share with them now. 

    This doesn’t only take away your focus on your insecurities, but it’ll also help you to lead more compassionate classes.

    5. Apologising when it’s unnecessary

    It’s right to apologise when you really have done something wrong, but a lot of teachers apologise unnecessarily. For example we say sorry after mixing up left with right, or forgetting a side during a vinyasa flow. First of all, it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to forget something. In none of these cases does anyone get hurt, bullied or ignored. 

    Before apologising, ask yourself if you actually did something bad or harmful. Saying sorry can make your mistake sound bad when it wasn’t really. It may create a subconscious negativity that causes your students to think less of you. If we do it too much, it builds up a feeling that you make a lot of real mistakes or that you don’t know what you’re doing. Every time we say sorry, we add to the often false idea that we did something wrong.

    To avoid this, change your mindset and your language. Think before you speak – ask yourself ‘is this really a mistake? Have I caused a student to feel bad, or put them in danger?’ More often than not, you haven’t. Choose more accurate language for what happened. Instead, you can say:

    Excuse me: left, not right!’ or
    ‘No, I meant to say left, not right!’

    Correct yourself and make sure they’ve caught up. Have a little laugh and carry on.

    Apologising when it’s necessary 

    Of course, as learners and teachers, we are in constant development. So, sometimes we do make real mistakes. And they can be damaging. So, if you do make a hurtful, serious or offensive mistake, it is a million times better to admit to it immediately! Never assume that nobody has noticed a true mistake. Even if only one person did, you will reinforce your value as a teacher by owning it, acknowledging it and using it as a learning opportunity:

    ‘I apologise for using the pronoun ‘she’, not ‘they’. It was wrong of me.’.
    ‘I told you the wrong translation of the word ‘namaste’. I told you it meant x but it really means y. I’m very sorry for giving you the wrong information.’

    Your classes are a place of nurture and empowerment. If you make a bad or misleading mistake, do the right thing: to ignore it is to be more disrespectful. Apologise directly and quickly in order to minimise the damage. Authentic and responsible teaching means the wellbeing of your students is top priority.

    Learn more about these mistakes:

    Want to learn more about how to effectively teach yoga without making these 5 common mistakes? Register for the 10 tips for multilingual yoga teachers here.

    Ways of including everybody in your English yoga classes

    Ways of including everybody in your English yoga classes

    While it’s true that we can’t cater to all of everybody’s needs all the time in everything we do, we can still increase our inclusivity. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Remember that our bodies are unique anyway, so by simply increasing the variation or adaptability of the things you offer, you can increase the number of people who feel represented in your classes. In order to decide what kinds of options you can choose for the content of your classes, we need to return to a default mindset of ‘Who might this class/instruction/question be challenging, impossible or traumatic for? Why? How can I avoid that?’ Let’s dive into ways of including everybody and every body when teaching English yoga classes while we analyse health conditions, femininity and beauty standards.

    Every body is unique and it defines how we experience life:  

    Our minds and bodies define how we move through the world and what opportunities we have had. When finding ways of including everybody and every body when teaching English yoga classes, we need to consider how a person’s mind and body could affect their experience of our classes. Then we need to maintain an awareness of their experience and consider it in our class plans.

    While in our last blog we discussed ways of being inclusive in regard to religion, countries and continents, this blog aims to highlight three new areas where you can start to develop the inclusivity of your teaching. Remember, being aware is the first step to learning. Start introducing changes once you’ve done your own research and thinking after reading this blog. There is some guidance here and we hope you can use it to inform your own independent research of your existing or potential students.  

    Health conditions in your English yoga classes

    These paragraphs aim to raise awareness of the possible experiences your students might have relating to their bodies, which you need to be able to identify or accommodate in the future. Health conditions are countless, so I’m going to focus on the one we speak about a lot in yoga but don’t think about much because it isn’t visible: breathing. 

    If we’re at a yoga class we can assume everyone there is breathing, but how are they breathing? And what’s their present experience of breathing? Is it something they need to think about day by day, hour by hour? Yes, is the answer for people with asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancers, and the list goes on.

    If you have a disease affecting your breathing, it might be physically painful and/or a source of fear and trauma. Therefore, finding out about your students’ health conditions can help you to accommodate their experience while you teach. Don’t underestimate how reassuring it is for a person with a condition like this simply to know that their teacher is being responsible. If you ask a new student if they have any health conditions and they mention something you don’t know anything about, say that. 

    It’s ok to say that, at this moment, you don’t know. 

    It is a sign of respect and reliability to say ‘I am sorry but I feel I know very little about your health condition and I will need to find out more before I can give you the right recommendations or instructions.’ Then go away and seek information from reliable medical sources. For this class, tell them only to do what they decide is safe and what they feel comfortable with, and offer options. Example: ‘in a minute I will lead a short breathing exercise. If you have a condition that affects your breathing, [do x, y or z] instead’.

    Remember that while you may have learned  or read that yoga ‘can help’ or ‘improve’ certain conditions, you have to be fully educated on how and why yoga is proven to benefit people with those conditions. It may be that only certain aspects of it can be practised by them safely, or done in a particular way to be beneficial, not detrimental. There isn’t one size fits all and our bodies respond differently to different conditions. You don’t have to be a doctor, but it’s part of our responsibility as teachers to work with our students to find out in a responsible way what is best for them. This shouldn’t be rushed and it can be a team effort. 

    Periods, femininity and identifying as a woman 

    While female empowerment and feeling happy in your body is a wonderful thing, this is an area where we risk excluding some people. Even if we don’t think it will directly affect someone in our class, our acknowledgement of diversity is part of having an inclusive mindset as a teacher. Here we’ll explore ways of including everybody in your English yoga classes by becoming more aware of how we can avoid non-inclusive ideas that are centred around gender binaries and cisgender normativity.

    Often we refer to the idea of a cycle. Sometimes that’s the lunar cycle, but also the menstruation cycle. This can happen especially in classes where there are only people there who identify as women. 

    If we are going to refer to menstruation and/or female identity, we should remember that these two things are not dependent on one another. For example it is not only cisgender women who experience periods; therefore we exclude both people who are transgender and people who just don’t have periods, including cisgender women. 

    Gender identity aside, while for one person menstruation may be something they enjoy and love, it is also a real source of trauma for others. For some people who bleed, it is upsetting because they do not feel like their body and its functions belong to them as a person, or it could be that they have had damaging experiences from conditions such as endometriosis or unsuitable contraception. 

    Feminine or female characteristics  and stereotypes

    It is not unusual for women to find empowerment in stereotypically, conventionally ‘feminine’ or ‘female’ characteristics. Those might include having ‘curves’ like more defined hips and breasts than is conventionally thought of as ‘masculine’. These problematic binaries ignore our diversity and represent us incorrectly.  So, we need to take responsibility and find ways of including every body in your English yoga classes. Because when we reinforce them in our teaching, it can be damaging and traumatic for our students. For example, a person could really want to have the characteristics we mention and not have them. Another might have them and hate them or not identify with them. Someone else might have lost a characteristic due to surgery, treatment or an accident.

    We will never know exactly what has happened or is happening in our students’ lives. That’s why, when teaching, we should ensure our content is based on more universal experiences, or speaks to a variety of experiences, free of assumptions. 

    As teachers we can take care not to exclude individuals from our classes by accommodating students’ experiences and being thoughtful of their possible gender identity and any health conditions or experiences they’ve had. We don’t often share these personal experiences in a professional environment. Neither do we necessarily have to find out about our students’ relationships with menstruation and other aspects of their bodies. We can simply adapt our content to the broader, more adaptable experiences of knowing and caring for your body and other types of cycles such as the lunar one. 

    Body idealism and beauty standards in your English yoga classes

    How many of us look in the mirror and see only our imperfections? I know I do and I know I am not alone.

    Sadly most beauty in the world isn’t recognised due to our narrow perceptions of ideal body shape, size and other idealised characteristics of beauty. The funny thing is, these perceptions change from place to place and from person to person. So they’re not even founded in anything real. Promote the recognition of real beauty in your classes! Which is seeing and believing in our own value as a human being, and the value of others regardless of shape, size, colour and personality. Focus on the beauty of loving yourself and others in all our diversity. 

    There are so many aspects that determine how beautiful we think we are or someone else is. We think about everything from the size and shape to the colour and texture of almost every part of our bodies, from our heads to our toes!

    Including every body type in your English yoga classes
    While teaching, we can use language that does not suggest or reinforce ‘idealised’ body types or normative and exclusive beauty standards. For example, ‘bikini body’, ‘yoga body’, ‘dancer body’, ‘lockdown weight’, ‘Christmas weight’ and so many more unhealthy labels. Avoid them in order not to fuel our often toxic relationship with beauty. Be careful not to use words that could be associated with eating disorders and body dysmorphia for example, or that could have negative connotations for people who experience such conditions. Use phrases such as ‘engage your core’ and avoid ‘flatten your belly’ or suck your stomach in’. How might those words upset a person who’s suffering from or recovering from an experience where the size or shape of their stomach was a source of fear, anxiety and ill health? How might it affect a mother who’s still trying to navigate all the hormonal changes of her postnatal body? 

    Helping your students see beauty in themselves and each other as they are is a way of including everybody and every body when teaching English yoga classes. We can use inclusive language to broaden our perspective to understand the true meaning of beauty. We can highlight that true beauty doesn’t have ideals or standards.

    Put yourself in others’ shoes!

    Creating inclusivity is an ongoing, never-ending path of education and work, and inclusive language evolves like all other languages. For example, I have epilepsy and when I returned to Scotland after four years living in Spain, I learned that I had been using language that was now considered offensive and hurtful to others who have epilepsy. So I’ve had to retrain myself to speak about my own health condition! This goes to show just how much we need to keep up with what is and isn’t currently acceptable language, and also how personal it is. One person with epilepsy can have a totally different experience to another person with epilepsy. Even within one characteristic, there is endless diversity and variation.  

    So, listening to individual experiences is as key as researching reliable and formally published information such as government guidelines. It’s also about constructively criticising ourselves and others before and as we speak. Acknowledging honestly what we don’t know, then reflecting on how we can, as individuals, be more active to  support others and treat everyone as equals. Our bodies and our relationships with them are unimaginably diverse, but perhaps this in itself is something that can unite us. Finding ways of including everybody and every body when teaching English yoga classes can seem like a big task. By choosing our content well, we can both focus on the universal experiences of human existence and offer adaptable, versatile content which represents as many people as possible.

    More like this?

    Also read: 3 Ways of being more inclusive in terms of countries, languages and religion

    And, in the meantime, get access to the 10-Tips for Multilingual Yoga Teachers here. It’s a video series of 10 daily tips to not only help you become more language aware, but also gain confidence and effectiveness in your English yoga classes. You can register here.

    Ways of being inclusive in your English yoga classes

    Ways of Being Inclusive in Your English Yoga Classes

    Big world: ways of being inclusive when teaching English yoga classes worldwide

    As teachers we have a duty to maximise the inclusivity of our communication. This is a responsibility we take on as a professional and as a friend and ally to other people. Finding ways of being inclusive in your English yoga classes is about being aware of what our different experiences might be. It means respecting each individual’s truth, every step of the way. That means considering our diverse experiences while we research, study, plan, teach and communicate with others. 

    Here are some examples of things I have noticed as a teacher and noted as things to accommodate in the future whether in yoga classes, at work or just in conversation.  These are a few areas of life experience that are especially important in a multicultural and multilingual context. Use them to help you when finding ways you can be more inclusive in your English yoga classes. Then you can use them as building blocks to implement any positive changes in your teaching or generally in your business:

    Ways you can be inclusive in your English yoga classes: Religion

    Depending on the individual, yoga can be a very spiritual experience while some yogis these days do not feel yoga is a particularly spiritual or religious thing at all. And many people practise other religions separately. Our students’ experiences with religion, and with yoga and religion, are more complex and personal than we can imagine as teachers. 

    As with any personal experience, some will have no problem opening up about their beliefs. Others might prefer to keep it private. Even if your intention is to be inclusive, that doesn’t automatically give you the right to ask about people’s personal information. This is about knowing your students and assessing their boundaries. We can consider how a student might feel or how they might experience our classes. We can be mindful of these things just in case it’s necessary or beneficial. There’s nothing to lose by taking into account the possibilities of their experiences.

    Respecting the boundaries

    It isn’t our right to know or to ask. Some people might not know how to articulate how their religion fits with yoga. Others might simply not want to talk about if or how yoga is a religion to them. Some might go quiet because they had another experience of religion or just don’t associate religion or spirituality with yoga at all.

    Therefore, we need to respect that our students will have different relationships with yoga, religion and spirituality. And how those three things fit together. So raise your awareness of the boundaries when finding ways you can be inclusive in your English yoga classes. Ask yourself: ‘what are my/their boundaries? Where in this class, might I cross the line? At what point might I start to exclude a follower of the Islam or a student who doesn’t follow a religion? How will I accommodate a variety of viewpoints in my classes? We have more in common than we don’t; there are always ways to include everyone.

    Open your eyes

    Increase your knowledge of religious celebrations and holidays in different cultures and nations. For example, wish your students ‘Eid Mubarak!’ when it comes, if you know they might be celebrating it.  Acknowledge that some students may be fasting for religious or cultural reasons at different points in the year. Remind them to take it easy and be gentle when they’re feeling fragile during this period. Offer recordings of classes that students might miss during their celebrations for the Chinese New Year.

    Word your instructions or mindfulness guidelines in a way that it is general enough for everyone to apply their own perspectives and situations. You can do this by choosing your themes and content wisely.  It also helps to give options, use open-ended questions or ideas that can be adapted to and received by individuals in a way that serves them personally. Approximately 84% (2015) of the world’s population identifies with a religion; and not all the same one! There are many. Asking yourself about the role of religion and spirituality in your students’ experiences could guide you in finding ways you can be more inclusive in your English yoga classes.

    Ways of being inclusive in your English yoga classes: Countries and Continents

    There is also the simple stuff we often forget because we’re so worried about the details. Are you considering the different time-zones of your (potential) students and followers? Are some groups being excluded because of where they are in the world? Of course, we can’t match everyone’s timetables. But doing what you can to involve more people is part of increasing inclusivity. 

    Imagine where your students are in the world. What is the seasonal experience like in their part of the world? Asking your students to imagine snowflakes falling all around them excludes people who have never seen snow in their lives. You might find Christmas the focus of your winter spirit, but your students might not relate at all to snowy scenes of Santa Claus. Some people might know exactly what it looks like, but find it a challenging time of year for emotional associations. It seems small but when we make assumptions about what is a ‘normal’ experience, we allow ourselves to centre our classes around what is normal to us as one person or one part of the world only. 

    Lost in translation

     We must also consider how the associations and connotations of words can differ dramatically between languages. Often when we speak our second or third language(s), we translate directly from another language that we know better, which can lead to miscommunication. Sometimes direct translations or words that sound similar have a totally different meaning in the other language. They could have totally different associations; possibly negative ones. Language is intrinsically linked to its political and historical context, especially when it comes to race, gender and sexuality. So researching the correct use of words across countries, cultures and languages is another responsibility we take on as international (yoga) teachers.

    We know that finding out about our students’ lives is essential. But what about investigating our own culture(s) further? This can help us to understand two things. Firstly we can reflect on how our culture(s) affect our interpretation of something. Consequently, we can see more clearly how people with other cultural experiences might interpret the same thing differently. Eye contact, for example, is perceived differently around the world. You might want to communicate concern or reassurance by looking your student in the eyes, while they might associate this with a lack of respect. Behaviour and gestures can mean different things in different places. We can miscommunicate if we forget to translate our behaviour, gestures and attitudes as well as our words!

    The average or norm is overestimated

    Especially for teachers in the west, when finding ways you can be inclusive in your English yoga classes, remember that yoga didn’t use to be a western thing in the first place. Teachers and classes based in the west can minimise Eurocentrism by realising what is normal in that particular part of the world is not normality. Normativity is problematic and as teachers we have a responsibility to know about intercultural differences and not only accommodate them but welcome them. Recognise where and who yoga comes from. Reflect on how you adapted yoga to suit yourself. Realise that you can adapt your yoga classes to be inclusive of a mix of linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

    How does your class and its content apply to other countries, continents and their cultural and religious experiences? It’s a teacher’s job to adapt to as many of their students as possible. It is part of being inclusive, and by really studying, researching and being thoughtful of our students’ experiences, we can make our classes truly inclusive and valuable to a variety of individuals. 

    More like this?

    Also read: 3 Ways of being more inclusive in terms of health conditions, femininity and body image

    In the meantime, get access to the 10-Tips for Multilingual Yoga Teachers here. It’s a video series of 10 daily tips to not only help you become more language aware, but also gain confidence and effectiveness in your English yoga classes. You can register here.

    Inclusive Language in your English yoga classes

    Being Aware of Inclusive Language in your English yoga classes

    What’s inclusive language?

    Inclusive language mainly  refers to communicating in a way that does not exclude and that accurately represents people who have a disability or a health condition. These could be both mental and physical. Language that’s inclusive refers to some up-to-date guidelines that are generally agreed on. They list the  words and phrases people with disabilities or health conditions feel comfortable with and that represent them well. It also refers to making services and communications accessible and easy to use for as many people as possible. For you, as a yoga teacher, being aware of inclusive language in your English yoga classes is a must.

    Inclusivity also refers to building  a society which reflects the diversity of humans in all ways. It means  creating  systems  that make sure everyone is treated equally and respectfully. It means developing inclusive culture in all areas of life, regardless of the experiences we have in connection with our (perceived) age, disabilities, health conditions, gender, gender identity or expression. Race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, national origin and religion and (non-)belief can also define these life experiences. As can our sexual preferences and identity. It also includes our marriage and partnership status, pregnancy and maternity or paternity status, and our social and educational backgrounds.* It can include any of the other characteristics that cause us to move through the world differently from one another. In other words, a lot. 

    Being aware is the first step to learning and to changing

    This short blog focuses on raising awareness of the responsibility yoga teachers have to help build  a more inclusive and equal society. We can support equality by making our international classes more welcoming and accessible to people with a variety of needs and experiences. But let’s acknowledge something important. Using inclusive language is only one aspect of the systemic change needed globally to remove the daily obstacles in society that some of us experience. Those obstacles could be a result  of the way society responds to our educational background, sexuality, mental and physical health, race or gender identity, for example. We understand that using inclusive language does not solve the problem of injustice. However, we commit to educating ourselves and each other, and believe this is an essential part of any teacher’s job.

    We hope this blog helps raise more awareness of the different experiences our students might have. Also of how they apply to  the multilingual context of your yoga classes. When we learn  to think of others’ experiences which are different from our own,  we can teach our students in a more respectful and informed way. The path to inclusivity and justice is a long one; it is our duty to invest   time in learning about it. 

    Now let’s bring our attention to our own current context: the (virtual) yoga studio. 

    Why’s inclusive language important in an international or English yoga class?

    We might not realise that the language we use is important because it doesn’t hurt or disrespect us personally. Therefore it’s harder to notice. When it comes to inclusivity, it’s about listening to a person’s experience. It doesn’t matter how much we can personally relate to it; it doesn’t matter how much of your truth is my truth. They can be different and coexist. What matters is that we accept and respect each others’ truths. 

    In yoga there are many phrases and expressions that refer to specific body parts, cultural characteristics, spiritual beliefs and emotional experiences. Language influences how inclusive our classes are because we speak from the perspective of  our own experiences. Or maybe from friends and family, or people we’ve read or heard about. Naturally, we teach what we know and, as a result, we sometimes make  assumptions and generalisations. We speak about things automatically  after a while. It’s worth asking ourselves if anyone might be misrepresented, underrepresented or even excluded by what we say or do.We can do this when we plan classes and as we gain experience. Being critical of ourselves and our work helps us stay aware of other people’s experiences and consider them more in our jobs. 

    Reasons to put ‘inclusive language’ on our daily to-do list:

    1. It keeps our students’ needs at the centre of our work, making us more effective and knowledgeable teachers. In addition, it teaches us to be better allies to those who are not considered, represented or included at any moment.
    2. It raises awareness, respect and appreciation of diversity. We also learn more about how society receives and experiences our diversity.  We can identify problems and do our own work to help solve them.
    3. It normalises important and, at times, uncomfortable conversations that we need to have. Through having these conversations, we start to create more justice and peace.

    There’s a lot to know about making your work adaptable to the different needs of different people. Research is always making new discoveries and many jobs are dedicate only to this topic. So as yoga teachers we can’t decide today to be more inclusive, change our vocabulary a bit and expect the work to be finished.

    Acceptable language is constantly changing, as are the needs and experiences of individuals. This is about you doing the work consistently; doing your research and not waiting for others to tell you what to do and what to say. Dedicate time to finding out more about people who are different to you. Read their stories. It isn’t enough to just smile and be kind, so let’s educate ourselves. Let’s put our kindness into action and be active in making our yoga classes a place of safety. A place where everyone feels like an equal.

    Social aspects to take into account when using inclusive language in your English yoga classes

    Want to find out how to include certain social aspects that are often misrepresented or underrepresented in our yoga classes. These differences may play out in your classes and ask for mindful inclusivity on your part as a teacher as well.

    In the meantime, have you seen our 10 tips for multilingual yoga teachers: video series yet? Register here to become a more confident, effective and language-informed yoga teacher.

    Reference:
    * Ministry of Justice, UK Government 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity (accessed: 26th May 2021)

    Uncomplicated Grammar in Your English Yoga Classes

    Uncomplicated Grammar in Your English Yoga Classes

    We push ourselves to learn and use more complex language as we improve our language skills. So unlearning the desire to complicate our grammar use as a way of displaying our own knowledge is a new challenge. However, as mentioned in our previous blog on mindful pronunciation, mindful language and uncomplicated grammar is necessary for multilingual yoga teachers too. It is really important if you want to create inclusive classes that are accessible to a variety of types of language skills and confidence levels. So, let’s have a look at what uncomplicated grammar in your English yoga classes means.

     

    Generally speaking, the less we say the better. 

    Especially when our students lack confidence. When a student or a class is quiet, however, we often try to compensate by talking a lot and trying to create a chatty and relaxed atmosphere. We do it out of empathy but actually, this can be overwhelming for them.

    While finding a balance between creating a safe space for your students and keeping your classes simple, clear and centred on your students’ needs, here are a few bits of grammar that we can avoid and replace with  uncomplicated grammar in your English yoga classes:

     

    Examples of Complicated Grammar in Your English Yoga Classes

    1. -ing:

    Example: ‘Keep gazing in front, while pressing through the corners of your feet and staying connected to your breath’. 


    These days, English speakers tend to overuse the -ing forms, such as using state verbs in the continuous form, which is incorrect. ‘I’m loving your photo’ is wrong! But let’s focus on the fact that a lot of structures using ‘-ing’ forms also need extra words like auxiliary verbs or prepositions. So, consider how you could rephrase and use short, more direct language. What’s wrong with: ‘Look to the front, press into your feet, connect to your breath’?

     

    2. Conditionals:

    Example: ‘I reckon you would feel better if you didn’t look at your phone within the first hour of waking up.’


    We often use conditionals to talk about imaginary or unreal situations. These conditionals depend on two clauses and normally a variety of tenses which are often counter-intuitive. For example, for a present or future imaginary situation we use the past tense! It may seem natural to you now, but put yourself in the shoes of a beginner. It can be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together at the moment of speaking.

    We are in a yoga class, not a language class or a job interview. So find simpler alternatives! Instead, to add the idea of possible or hypothetical situations, you can:

    1. use the modal verbs ‘could/may/might + main verb’ to talk about possible situations in the present or future. Example: ‘You may feel better if you don’t look at your phone in the morning’.

    2. use the words ‘perhaps/maybe’ for example: ‘Perhaps journal more frequently.’ 

     

    3. Indirect questions

    We use them because they feel and sound more polite, but in a yoga class that isn’t really your objective; you aren’t asking someone for a favour. In the student-teacher relationship, there is already an expectation of a certain amount of instructional language and direct guidance. Look at these examples:

    Could you please make sure you tell me about any injuries you have?’
    Would you be able to tell me about any injuries you have, please?’

    These are complex, wordy and unnecessary. Some students might not even recognise them as a question because they do not follow the normal structure that we learn at lower levels. These are perfectly clear and polite:  

    ‘Do you have any injuries?’ (question)
    ‘Tell me about any injuries you have, please.’ (instruction)
                                     

    Remember: it is about how you say something. Say everything with kindness: kindness doesn’t need complex grammar.

     

    4. Open questions 

    Open questions are questions that do not have a simple yes/no answer, and the person answering needs to give the specific details. That means that we don’t put specific ideas into the question. For example, a good open question is:

    ‘Imagine a beach. What’s the temperature? How’s the weather? You touch the sand. How does it feel?

    These are short sentences that are easy to digest and people understand sooner. However, in a lot of yoga classes and guided mindfulness practices, the teacher or speaker provides all the details. We want to give a lot more than we need to. An example of what to avoid is:

    ‘Imagine you’re relaxing on your favourite beach, sitting down or lying down; what’s most comfortable for you? Is it hot? Is it warm? Or is it cool? Is it sunny? Is it windy? Is the sand soft or hard? Or are there pebbles?’

    In the last example, there is too much to understand. It takes time to process all the information and also increases the probability of confusion. Avoid this by asking more open questions. They allow our students to imagine for themselves and go to a place they choose to be for their practice. And for you as a teacher, it stops you needing to think of or write and remember so many details.

     

    5. Wishes and Regrets

    Advanced and fluent English speakers often use the phrase ‘I wish’ or ‘if only’ to talk about things they want to change about the past or present. A common example of when we use this is when we talk about things we regret or things that have caused us difficulty. These often come up in yoga and mindfulness practices.

    Examples:

    1. ‘I wish I had started practising yoga when I was younger.’

    Here, the speaker uses the positive form of the past perfect to describe something that did not happen, but that they want the opposite to be true (that it happened). If we use this structure, we expect our students to know we are saying something negative, when our verb is grammatically positive. Similarly, if it were negative, it would mean the reality was positive. Now consider this:

    1. ‘If only there were more hours in a day so I could do asana twice!’

    Here, the speaker uses the past simple for a present situation that they want to be different. Now compare it to phrase 1 which refers to the past: ‘I wish I had started practising yoga when I was younger.’

    The two past tenses might sound similar to your students; the only difference is that the first one uses the past perfect rather than the past simple. But only one has a past meaning! If we use these phrases, our students have to listen for precise details: which past tense you used, positive or negative, only to understand the key information of when this thing happened or if it happened at all!

    There’s nothing wrong with saying:

    1. ‘I regret that I didn’t practise yoga when I was younger’ and 
    2. ’I would love to have more hours in a day to do asana twice!’

    It isn’t easy to simplify your language – that’s why we always find ‘native’ speakers in a foreign language so difficult to understand when we start learning. They don’t realise how difficult their words are because the better you know a language, the harder it is to notice the complexity of what you say. 

    These structures are often only really clear and natural to English learners when they reach upper-intermediate and more advanced levels of the language. So, find a simpler way to communicate wishes and regrets that uses uncomplicated grammar next time in your English yoga classes.

     

    6. Phrasal verbs

    One of the most difficult things about learning the English language is phrasal verbs. They require a big learning journey because they are really common but also very difficult to translate to other languages; they often can’t be taken literally.

    Also, the meaning can change from region to region and country to country. For example, ‘work out’, to me, means to solve something, like a problem or a maths equation. To others, especially those who know American English, it means to ‘do exercise’! Some phrasal verbs also have more than one meaning like ‘get up’ can mean ‘get out of bed’ or ‘to stand up’ after you’ve been sitting down. 

    As teachers, we need to accommodate these variations and the challenges they bring our students. In your yoga classes, it helps to give little extra clues where possible. Compare:

    • You’re all in forward fold (Uttanasana) when the teacher says: ‘Roll up slowly’.

    ‘Roll up’ can mean many things! It can mean your students might need to have a look at what you’re doing, wondering ‘should I roll up in a ball like a cat on my mat? Or long like the paper of a cigarette?’

     

    Why might this be confusing? 

    Well,  if you search for ‘roll up’ in a good dictionary, you’ll find multiple uses:

    1. Come and pay/buy [something]!
    2. ‘Arrive’ (normally late)
    3. ‘Wrap around/fold on itself’ i.e. a cigarette paper
    4. ‘Come together/congregate’ i.e. a group of people gathering


    You can’t know which of these contexts individual students have learned the verb ‘roll up’ in, if any. So instead, as a teacher, you can add the necessary context easily to clarify the meaning:

    • ‘Roll up slowly; come up to stand; vertebra by vertebra, then shoulders, neck and head’.


    Your students then know which kind of rolling up you meant and you won’t find them curled up on their mats like cats or rolling around like a cigarette.

    Finding other uncomplicated grammar options in your English yoga classes can be difficult when it comes to phrasal verbs. They can be confusing but they are necessary.  So, when we can’t find a less complicated alternative, we need to clarify. We can give our students little pieces of supporting context and clues. 

     

    Good language choice supports your students

    Deciding on simpler alternatives to complex grammatical structures is a good idea when your objective is to teach yoga, not language! From  –ing forms, conditionals, indirect questions and open questions, to wishes or regrets and phrasal verbs. These are just a few of the things we can bear in mind when planning or creating inclusive classes with mindful language and uncomplicated grammar as multilingual yoga teachers. Language, just as everything else in life, is constantly evolving. As yoga teachers it is our responsibility to stay informed and meet our students where they are at. This goes for their yoga journey, but also their language learning journey. So, rather than making yourself heard in class, consider how you can simplify your language to make yourself understood.

    Want to dive deeper into mindful language & uncomplicated grammar for multilingual yoga teachers? Register for our 10 tips for multilingual yoga teachers: video series here.