How to communicate better in your yoga classes
Jun 04, 2023
Communication has always been and is a very powerful tool that connects, but can also divide depending on how it is used. Words carry connotations and arouse emotions. The way we communicate says a lot about us and how we perceive the world. Language is deeply rooted in us and becoming aware of it is not particularly immediate or easy.
This is why as yoga teachers and communicators in general it is crucial to be open to reflecting on ways of being more inclusive and to know that language can be a conscious choice.
Our words have the power to heal but they can also cause the opposite effect and make some students uncomfortable. Our words influence the yoga space and that is why we have to take care of our expression to create a space where students feel safe, accepted and at peace. Here are some points that we believe are important when communicating the practice of yoga.
Avoid terms that can create polarity
There are some adjectives or words to fill the silences that may seem soft and positive but can somehow open the door to feelings of exclusion.
Terms like “perfect” or “very good” can contradict the idea that there is no right or wrong in the experience and that perfection is not the goal of yoga. Adding “simply” or “only” before giving an instruction can also create discomfort since what may be easy for one person may not be so easy for another.
Minimize pronouns with gender connotations
It is best not to refer to students using gender pronouns since we don't know how people in the space want to be identified. In the Spanish language there are many expressions of gender, but if we pay attention we can minimize situations by incorporating a more inclusive language and not binary.
Ideally, memorizing the names of each person and addressing them by name individually can make you feel a lot more closeness, trust and integration. Of course, it is advisable to ask permission from each one before doing so and incorporate it normally.
Verbal invitation instructions, simple and clear
Make reference to very general parts of the body and then you can go into detail with more anatomical terms and/or in reference to the yoga mat. You can give examples and analogies so that students are clear about your intentions and your actions.
Give directions with geographic locations in space, rather than left/right.
To better communicate in your yoga classes, it is important to avoid imperative verb forms. Inviting to pay attention to how they feel in each posture and proposing the option to do or go further in a posture creates a more individual, more unique, freer and much more healing experience.
It also creates spaces of silence. When it's a time to connect, hold, or stretch, give students the space to feel it.
Speak from the "I"
When you communicate in your yoga classes, it is good to do it in the first person. This means that all the experiences are yours and that you speak from an authentic place and not projecting your experiences onto others. It opens the doors to being vulnerable and at the same time builds trust in your students towards you, since you are speaking from your experience and not telling them what or how to feel or do.
Remember that all experiences are valid and that it is our responsibility as instructors that students have their own. And not just in class, but in general.
"I free myself by allowing others the freedom of their own experiences."
Use affirmative language
Both above and outside yoga mat, we have to say the things we do want, rather than the things we don't want.
The universe always listens to us, and it is in our power and our choice to use affirmative language, both towards others and in our internal dialogue.
When you communicate yoga postures, it is very different to say “Remember to lengthen your neck” than “Don't forget to lengthen your neck”.
Instructing with affection and care means communicating with affection and care. Recording yourself during a yoga class and listening to yourself later can be a great help, since self-study is a way to improve yoga communication in order to enrich the experience and individual enjoyment of each person who enters your class.