Eve adjusting a student in a reclining yoga pose--demonstrating one of the styles of learning.

Supta Padangustasana Adjustment


Do you know your yoga learning style?


Anybody in the education game should know about ways of learning. They should also know their preferred way.

These styles of learning can roughly be presented in three categories: auditory, visual and kinaesthetic.

Sometimes the styles overlap. It’s possible to be an auditory/visual learner, or any other combination.

I’ve trained yoga teachers for years. Among this specialised population of trainees, most are kinaesthetic learners. They could understand the postures best by doing them. Then, their learning might be enhanced by receiving physical adjustments.

In the general population, however, 20 to 30 percent of people learn by listening to instructions (auditory). Another 40 percent learn visually. That is, in a yoga class, by seeing a teacher demonstrate a pose.

Learning to layer your teaching

These statistics imply that yoga teachers need to learn to layer their teaching. Their delivery needs verbal explanations, visual demonstrations, and hands-on adjusting. Then, all learners are catered for.

One of my favourite students is a highly auditory learner. When she is in class I’m extra careful to be clear and logical in my instructions. Not that I am careless at other times. The optimum place to begin teaching a pose is to give clear and concise verbal instructions, along with a demonstration.

To be an effective beginners’ instructor, it’s best to adjust misalignments verbally before adjusting physically. This lets the students sense and feel their postures. It allows time to develop internal reference points in their bodies.

Sometimes a teacher’s spoken instructions don’t land. Then, it’s time to stop, assess what’s not working. It may be necessary to add a demonstration or adjustment. This will give the student a visual/kinesthetic body and mind link.

For beginning yoga students, clear spoken instructions help them attain the basic shape of the pose, like broad-brush strokes. With experienced students, words can be more detailed. The details will elicit more refined expressions of a pose. At any level, though, the combinations of demonstrations and appropriate adjustments increases the students’ understanding tremendously.

If you’re curious to learn more about styles of learning or adjusting students, I recommend The Art of Adjustment