Teaching layers

Teaching uses a system of layering so that information is conveyed to the student by a number of means. Students absorb and understand differently. Some students learn visually whilst others require conceptual understanding through detailed instruction before being able to perform the asana. Some aspects are best understood by doing the asana first. For these reasons teaching conventions utilise visual, descriptive and experiential emphasis.

These layers are delivered not progressively or sequentially but rather in response to the experience of the students before us. The layer of instruction is made meaningful in the time and place of the teaching experience.

  • Name the asana.                                                                                          
  • Mirror. When facing the student directly opposite, present the asana in mirror.
  • Demonstrate. Show how the asana should be performed. What to do, how to do it and what to focus on.
  • Observable actions. Make your actions visible.
  • Synchronise words / actions. Synchronise your words with your own actions. Move after you speak so that students can look at, and see clearly, what you have said.
  • Instruct. Basic instruction to get students into the pose. Instruction describes the pose; for example, turn R foot out, L foot in etc.
  • Breath. Integrate breaths into the movements.
  • Key terms / phrases. Use key terms to convey instruction specifically; for example, big toe mound.
  • Emphasis. Emphasis is added to potentise instruction. Emphasis is achieved by the following:
  • Consistent use of key phrases/points;
  • Repetition of points;
  • Word spacing – pauses etc;
  • Volume – louder, quieter;
  • Pacing.
  • Timing. What is the overall timing within the asana? Is the asana timing consistent and appropriate to the energy requirement?

Pacing. How does the timing of one asana relate to another? How does the pace of the class adapt to reflect the capacity and energy of the student?

Coordinations. Coordinations is where two or more points are linked together. It involves/engages the student in what they are doing. It integrates the instruction into the body by making the student feel and observe the point intimately (directly) rather than intellectually.

The Foundation of Teaching Checklist form on the USB key is a useful tool for reviewing your teaching.