class

Lululemon via Pinterest

I taught a couple of classes this week which elicited happy responses from the students who attended. It’s not unusual to hear that people enjoyed a yoga class, but I did notice more compliments than usual. It set me thinking about what the recipe is for a good class.
In a way, I feel like leaving this page blank and just soliciting answers from you because, to tell the truth, I’m not sure what makes a good class good.
I suppose that’s a terrible admission from someone who’s been teaching so long that by now she should have figured it all out.
Is it the content of the class that makes it good? Do students like some categories of poses better than others, say, backbends or inversions?
Is it the sequence of poses? Is it because this went with that in a particularly seamless way that had you walk out the door a new person?
Is it the perfect combination of practices? As in just the right mix of meditation, breathing, asanas, relaxation?
Perhaps what makes a good class has not much to do with the teacher, but rather the key is that there’s been a gathering of kindred spirits all with the right chemistry.
Or maybe what makes it is the vibe of the room or a favourable astrological configuration?
Is it the level of challenge you have to rise to? Or, on the other hand, is it that you’ve lucked out and come to a restorative session and enjoyed just being passive?
I could go on and on with a myriad of things to factor into a yoga class, but instead I’m going to make up an answer: I think what makes a good class good is the presence of the teacher.
And, what adds up to ‘presence’? Here’s some ideas that come from a useful book, Teaching People Not Poses by Jay Fields:

  1. Being yourself
  2. Doing your homework – that is, your own practice
  3. Showing your vulnerability and expertise
  4. Teaching from your own experience
  5. Not knowing at times
  6. Staying in your body
  7. Not being too serious
  8. Treating students with respect and love
  9. Doing enough planning to be spontaneous
  10. Sourcing yourself
  11. Not trying to please everyone

That’s quite a list! We practice yoga to achieve the above qualities. As far as I’m concerned, there’s great satisfaction in bringing forth my presence, not just in yoga teaching but through all facets of my life. And, it’s a worthy endeavour, with or without the compliments.
(Please let me know what your criteria are for a good class.)