Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Leslie Kaminoff, a yoga teacher. Leslie, Amy Matthews, and Leslie are the co-authors of Yoga Anatomy. He has led online and in-person training for movement and yoga teachers for many years.
To hear Leslie’s insightful insights in his own words, I recommend you watch the entire interview. It was a lengthy conversation, so make sure to have a cup of tea or listen to the segments.
- The evolution of yoga and how it has always been evolving.
- Students and teachers can still benefit from alignment and fixed breath instructions.
- Sequencing versus choreographing yoga classes.
- How to answer students’ questions, and how to teach them.
Leslie shared three key takeaways that yoga teachers can learn from our conversation at the end. These are things I found very important, and I wanted to share them with you.
Based on his experiences, I asked Leslie what he would like to see more yoga teachers do.
As a yoga teacher, you should make your feedback system effective and be open to negative feedback.
Teachers need to be able to tell students what did not work in class or training. This is how we can keep improving. Keep asking yourself: What have you done to let your students know you are also open to negative feedback?
Yoga is a world where people can walk out of a class without returning. It’s hard to tell why someone left unless they complain. How effective is your feedback system if you teach classes or run a studio? If you have any feedback, please let us know if you feel something could be improved in the training or workshops you attended as a student.
Find a mentor to give you feedback. Do not be afraid to speak up and be open about your mistakes. It is not an easy conversation. It’s important to be uncomfortable with the conversation and not avoid it.
Once you have completed a workshop, training or seminar, take your learnings and integrate them gradually.
Suppose you have attended a workshop and had an ah-ha moment; you want to share it with your students immediately. Introduce it slowly in a 90:10 ratio. You can give them 90% of the content they expected from class and 10% of your new skills or knowledge. You will build a student community that is open to learning with you by slowly building it up.
Similar to this: When you learn something new, feel how it feels in yourself first. It is worth taking the time to practice it before you teach it to others. It is important to take the time to absorb your new knowledge. Then, you can teach it from your own experience. This leads to old alignment instructions being passed around without evidence. Once you have enough practice, you can share your experience in your own words.
Ask your students questions and offer options.
It is much more powerful to ask your students questions and not just teach them movement or yoga ‘techniques. You can do this by giving them a breathing instruction or alignment and asking them how it feels in the body. Ask them to move differently.
Examine where you are teaching on the spectrum between inquiry and techniques. There is no wrong answer to an inquiry, but there is a technique. It would help if you tried to balance the two in your classes.
We are grateful to Leslie for taking the time to have this conversation. Enjoy the entire talk.