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What's the Rush: Establishing the Right Pace in Your Yoga Class

It's easy to fall into the trap of rushing through life, even our yoga practice can become another time where we are trying to get through the practice and on to the next thing in our day. When it comes to leading an impactful yoga class experience, the tempo and pace that the teacher sets can make all the difference in creating a meaningful and transformative experience for students. It's not about getting through the sequence as quickly as possible; it's about creating an opportunity for students to connect with themselves and be fully present in the moment.


Rushing through poses can lead to distraction and disconnection, undermining the essence of the practice.

As a yoga teacher, it's essential to establish and maintain a pace that supports students safely and allows them ample time to engage with each posture fully. This means offering clear and concise instructions while leaving space for students to breathe, move, and explore the nuances of each pose. There is a distinct rhythm accessible especially within the vinyasa flow-style practice of asana where movement and breath are coordinated together to offer the practitioner an experience of steady one-pointed focus and awareness.


When we rush, we miss out on the richness of the practice. Instead of racing to the next posture, encourage students to savor each moment, to notice and feel the sensations in their bodies, and to move with intention and awareness.


In the serene space of a yoga class, the tempo, rhythm, and pace set the stage for a profound journey inward. It's not just about moving swiftly through postures; it's about creating an environment where mindfulness can flourish, and each movement becomes a meditation in motion. This mindful approach supports the creation of a new way of being that moves away from the hustle and productivity and toward an appreciation for the present moment.

 

So, how do you establish the right pace in a yoga class?

Let's explore three key considerations:



 

Anchor your mind to the movement of your breath and cultivate present moment awareness on and off of your yoga mat.

1. Presence Over Rush


As a teacher, part of your role and responsibility is found within setting the intention that cultivates an atmosphere of mindfulness and awareness. The pace at which you cue and instruct the class sequence has a significant impact on whether or not this atmosphere is created.


Imagine a yoga class where every movement feels rushed, every transition abrupt. Possibly the pace was so fast that you couldn't even land in some of the poses being offered and instructed. It's unsettling, isn't it? That's why setting the right pace is crucial.


Instead of focusing on getting through the prepared sequence, the pace should be steady and deliberate, allowing students to be seen and provided time to explore each posture fully. This deliberate pace cultivates a sense of presence, inviting students to connect deeply with their breath and body. The flow state of being is elevated when the tempo and rhythm of the class are established and a well-paced class can stand on its own.


When a steady tempo is not maintained in the practice space, and the pace becomes so fast that students don't have the time and space to settle into the postures, frustration may set in, and a desire to rush through the experience emerges instead of experiencing the rhythmic flow state that a well-paced class can provide.


Encourage students to let go of the need to "get through" the practice and instead focus on being present with each breath and movement. This requires teachers to dedicate themselves to being present for the class experience rather than solely focusing on the cognitive aspects of teaching, such as recalling the prepared sequence.


The greatest gift a yoga teacher can give students is their presence. - Sandy Raper
 

2. Connection and Engagement


A well-paced yoga class is essential for fostering connection and engagement among students. This provides students with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the practice, connecting mind, body, and breath. Rushing through sequences or transitions can disrupt this connection, hindering students' ability to explore each posture skillfully and safely.


It effectively communicates that maintaining a consistent pace throughout the class fosters an environment where students can deepen their practice by sharpening their awareness of sensations within each posture and transition. Students have the time and space to connect with their bodies on a deeper level while remaining attentive to explore their edges safely. This allows for a more profound experience on the mat, facilitating growth and self-awareness.


Additionally, a well-paced class promotes engagement not only with oneself but also with the teacher and fellow practitioners. A sense of community is fostered and supported as students move through the practice together, synchronizing breath and movement. This collective energy enhances the overall experience, creating a shared sense of presence and connection within the class.



3. Mindful Transitions and Trust


Transitional movements are an integral part of the yoga practice and should be approached with care and intention. Guide students thoughtfully through transitions, offering clear and concise cues to help them move seamlessly from one posture to the next without disrupting or distracting from the experience.


As a teacher, simplifying your approach to sequencing and infusing "space in-between" the postures will support you in this area. By establishing a steady pace during transitions, you create a sense of flow and continuity throughout the practice. A teacher seeks to become a good facilitator of flow.


Just as music has its rhythm and tempo, so does a yoga class. The rhythm guides the flow of movement, while the tempo determines its speed. When these elements are harmonized, students can effortlessly move from one posture to the next, creating a seamless flow of energy throughout the class.


 

Lastly, mindful movement in yoga isn't just about going through the motions; it's about cultivating one-pointed awareness – a laser-like focus on the present moment. When students move with intention and attention, they can fully experience the depth and beauty of each posture, awakening a sense of inner peace and tranquility.


As yoga teachers, we hold the power to create transformative experiences for students by sensing and reading into the energy rhythm of the room. By setting the right pace, rhythm, and tempo, we can guide students on a journey of self-discovery and inner exploration.


Remember that mindful movement isn't just about what happens on the mat; it's about how we move through life – with presence, intention, and grace.


So, the next time you step onto your mat or into the role of a teacher, remember: What's the rush? Slow down, breathe, and embrace the journey one breath at a time.


 

About the author:

Sandy Raper is an E-RYT 500, RYS, YACEP, Yoga Medicine® Therapeutic Specialist, author, and host of her globally recognized Beyond Yoga Teacher Training Podcast.


She has been a respected yoga teacher and mentor for over twenty years dedicating to the ongoing pursuit of educating others on movement literacy within the yoga practice. Sandy seeks to equip yoga teachers with the resources they need to be successful and highly effective in teaching yoga.


Within the Beyond Yoga Teacher Training Programs, Sandy offers a variety of resources to support the ongoing growth and development of yoga teachers through foundational teacher training, online courses, and mentorship. Sandy's much anticipated first book, Teaching from the Heart: Lessons on Developing Character, Confidence, and Leadership as a Yoga Teacher releases on April 23, 2024.


Find all of these resources and more: www.sandyraper.com 


 

Catch the latest episode on the Beyond Yoga Teacher Training Podcast:


 

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