Teaching Guidelines for Yoga Instructors
Before the very first yoga session with a student, the yoga instructor needs to do an initial assessment of the student's current strength and endurance, physical challenges (i.e. spasticity, hypertonicity, hypotonicity, etc.) or barriers. An interview with the student's parent or guardian is helpful in getting information on any medications that the student is currently taking, or recently stopped taking. This may affect the student's physical, mental and emotional states. In addition, certain medications may make it unsafe to let the student do inversion asanas. The yoga instructor should then consult with the student's physician, explain the different asanas that may be used in the student's program, and ascertain which asanas are safe for the student to practice.
In addition, knowledge of other medical conditions, such as epilepsy prepares the instructor to handle an epileptic seizure if and when one does occur. Designing the yoga session to focus more on meditation and relaxation can aid in decreasing the frequency and duration of seizures (Yardi, 2001). Information about a student's diet at home and in school is also helpful. A student's behavior and attention span during the yoga session may be affected by the student's diet, specifically the lack of vital nutrients in the diet.
When designing an appropriate yoga session for the student, the personality, behavior, and attention span of the student should be taken into consideration. If a student is agitated, hyperactive or easily distracted, the instructor may have the student spend less time in each asana and more time doing music therapy and pranayama. Choose asanas that build focus and concentration, and are calming at the same time. Making a game or a storytelling activity incorporating the asanas keeps the student on task and involved in the yoga session. The instructor should be creative with each session, while adhering to the main structure of the class.
If an instructor is leading a group class (45-50 minutes), he or she is still expected to give equal time, attention, and/or assistance to each student as much as possible.