Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yoga and the Broadcaster

Today...I had an epiphany! I have four days left at my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Frog Lotus Yoga...and the light bulb is now full-on! The lead instructor called me out on my sanskrit...and my use of extraneous words, and suggested I should teach a little less with my hands. She continued by saying, she knows I'm a broadcast journalist and I have a command of communicating. She's right! I am a broadcaster and do have a strong command of communicating. I started to think...maybe if I had a grading rubric, I would be able to step up my Shanti! Immediately, the rubric I use for grading new military broadcasters came to mind. There are nine graded areas and they sure do seem to lend themselves perfectly to teaching yoga.

1) Voice Quality: Depending on the class you're teaching you need to make sure your quality and tone support. Additionally, your voice quality must change throughout the class. In the beginning a calm and steady voice invites the students to be present. If teaching a vinyasa class, your cadence and directness must increase as the flow-tempo increases. At the end, in savasana, once again a calming, soft voice is required.

2) Vocal Energy: Your vocal energy must match the class you're teaching. Broadcasters rely on finding the "mood" of the story to determine their energy. In yoga...it is the type of class. For a slow-flow Hatha class, NO ONE IS WANTING A CHEERLEADER! However, after 45-minutes of a Vinyasa 3-4, a little pep just might be what the doctor ordered. (sorry won't unbold!)
3) Word Grouping: Are you leaving your students wondering what is happening next, or do you formulate (and actually speak) specific directions? Ever taken the class where you were left in a precarious position due to the instructor being lost in thought? That's word grouping.

4) Stress & Intonation: Let's face it...sanskrit can be a bitch! Body parts tend to blend. Was that drishti, or samasthiti?

5) Communication of Ideas: Was the class completely esoteric, or were there some easily to digest pieces of information that you can gain traction with? How many times did the instructor say, "UM?" Were there any "crutch" words and phrases? How many times can I "really enjoy the stretch?" What if I'm not enjoying the stretch? You know when you have a great instructor when he tells you what he wants you to do exactly. "Lengthen your side body as you inhale and reach through the fingertips."

6) Articulation: This is always fun...Try being a voice and diction coach, then attend a yoga school with folks from all over the country. I'm pretty certain many of these students don't know what an "r" sound is! One of my favorite instructors is a guy from Vermont. His articulation would put a cringe in my neck at my other job...but is very charming in this yoga setting.

7) Word Recognition/Comprehension: Broadcasters have proper nouns, yogis have sanskrit and anatomy. Mispronounce someones name...lose credibility forever. Invite a class to explore Adhra Mukha Savasana...and you'll get the "what-what" look. (Adho Mukha Svanasana- Down Dog)

8) Overall Performance: This is pretty easy to tell how well you did in yoga. If students hug you, or keep coming back with more friends...then you're money. If you're all alone, you might want to review the first seven graded areas.

9) Following Instructions: Did you in fact just teach an all-levels class? If you did, you provided modifications for the novice and the advanced yogi in the class. Check your ego, maybe even ask for some candid feedback from time to time.

I kind of wish I would have thought about this on Day 1, instead of Day 24!

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