As is widely known, some styles require little planning and preparation on behalf of the yoga instructor. These styles have preset lesson plans that do not change. They usually practice the same asana sequence, pranayama, and meditation in every class. Other styles allow the yoga teacher some freedom to sequence an asana series and make decisions about what else to include. Clearly, the limits of this freedom will vary depending on what, who and where teachers will be training, but the following tips can help bring coherence to any yoga class.
Every school of yoga is a little bit different, and while some forms are more unified than others, most require instructors to construct classes out of a theme or to make some decisions about emphasis. A vinyasa or power yoga class, for example, has its own freedom within structure. Yoga flows are usually geared toward athletic practitioners, to start with, so the yoga instructor can plan more physically challenging sequences. Similarly, a yoga teacher might also decide to focus one class session on strengthening the core and another on arms.
It would do little good to fill a class full of basic yoga poses if the students were advanced. Similarly, sequencing poses too quickly can embarrass a beginner, so it is important to consider students during the planning process. How advanced is their knowledge of yoga? Do they have any injuries? Are there any special needs? What is their appetite for challenge? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you narrow your class emphasis even further.
During the planning process, considering where you teach is as important as knowing who you teach. After all, a yoga studio is a much more intimate setting with more consistent students than a local community gym that attracts a variety of skill levels, ages and attendance commitment. You should also be aware of what resources your setting will make available and plan ahead possible pose adaptations with any available props. This ensures you will be ready with suggestions as student problems like pain or lack of flexibility arise.
Again, this consideration depends heavily on the first three, but deciding whether you want each class to meet short term goals or whether you want to design a series of classes to meet long-term goals will also guide your planning. With a class of beginners, you might, for example, plan out a four-week series of classes that covers all the basic tenets of yoga. On the other hand, perhaps you teach sessions filled with a variety of age and skill levels and think organizing individual sessions around a theme will work best for your students.
No matter how detailed your yoga lesson plan is, always be prepared to throw it out the window as students’ needs change. After all, flexibility (of mind and body) is one of the major tenets of yoga.