Sometimes, You Have To Show Them How.

I have two instances this week where, while teaching, I had to show students how to do the postures.

The first time was when I was getting them into Standing Head to Knee. I showed them how to lock their knee.

"You push the knee back and THEN pull up on your quadriceps muscle. See how it pops up and away from my knee? This is a locked knee. Beware, it will unlock on you. So you must re-engage it in the posture."

Looking at the dialogue, it doesn't say this. But this is how you lock the knee. And I had two students thank me afterwards for showing them this... Because they didn't realize you had to do more than push the knee back to lock it out.

The second instance of me having to show them how to do a posture came yesterday during Triangle pose. The first set of Triangle was rough. Students not sitting low enough... Then when they went to rotate their arms, they were bending down to get their fingertips in between the big toe and second toe.

This is wrong. So I showed them in between the sets (which also gave them a nice break.)

"You sit all the way down, making an upside-down L with your right leg," I showed them. "This gets you down into the hip flexor. Knee should not go past your toes. If it is, move the straight leg out more, making a wider gap."

"Then, you windmill the arms," I showed them. "You move them at the same time. JUST move the arms. You do not bend your torso down."

"Then, you sit lower, stretching your right arm down in between the two toes and stretching your left arm up. You don't bend the torso. When you bend down, you lose the triangle gap that is created. And that gap is why the posture is called 'Triangle.'"

"The two arms should be on top of each other, stretching in opposite directions," I went on. "The two shoulders are stretching apart. You are twisting your torso back at the same time."

In the second set of the posture, there was noticeable improvement. And I had a number of students thank me after class for showing them that.

"I had no idea!" was the general sentiment.

The dialogue is great, and certainly the best tool in our arsenal. But sometimes you have to actually show them, in addition to relying on the dialogue. If you only recite dialogue, your students aren't necessarily going to grow. Some people are visual. And you can't always see how to properly do it in the classroom.

Also, I'm sorry... But Triangle is one of my favorite postures. And it makes me sad when people do it wrong because they've never been shown how to do it.


thedancingj said...

You knew I'd comment on this, right? :)

Standing head to knee: it is totally in the dialogue. Left leg dialogue, baby. Standing Leg - Thigh Muscle. (I love this.) And then again under the dotted line: for correction, if the standing knee is bending. It is crystal clear. I use those lines all the time.

I use demos sparingly - things can get messy - but it's true that for the visual learners, a little visual goes a long way. The blue book is REALLY good for that.

The Missus said...

True. The left-side dialogue does describe it more. And some teachers do use it. But students still need a visual quite often. Seeing that muscle actually contract on someone you are looking forward at is more helpful than hearing it described alone.

The Missus said...

I will say, though, that out of the two demos I did, Triangle seemed to really help them the most. Again, not that I would do it every time... But it certainly made an impact on them.

I won't ever be someone who just recites dialogue. It's not that I don't believe in the dialogue... I do. But when so many students are way off base with the posture, clearly just reciting the dialogue hasn't helped them. It could be different for other groups of students... But this group seemed to be having a disconnect.

As teachers, we teach and observe. And sometimes, we have to find a special way to speak to the students and educate them. This was an example of me observing the bodies and helping them meet their needs.

thedancingj said...

Oh, totally. The demos can help. And I've totally done an impromptu little demo just to give breathing time when everyone seemed about to pass out. I'm on your wavelength.

And then sometimes - as you might have already noticed - you can give a lovely demonstration that has NO effect whatsoever. I figured that out by trial and error. My theory is that, when you give a correction to the group, everyone thinks that you're talking to the Other Guy.

The best thing for the locked knee explanation that I've found - the absolute best-case scenario - is to get them intrigued and trick them into asking you about it after class. :) Sometimes people will ask what it means to "lock the knee". More often, people will come to you saying, "hey, so I have knee problems, what should I do?" Then you can explain it to them one-on-one. I can't even count the number of times I've rolled up my pants at the front desk to explain about the quadriceps muscles.

Oh yeah, and I don't recite dialogue, either. At least I try not to. I try to TEACH using dialogue, which is really hard but a lot of fun!!

The Missus said...

OMG! That is the best way to say it... "Teach the dialogue." I think a lot of new teachers get lost and fall back on reciting. It is good to have a reminder to "teach" it.

Chrissy D. said...

I haven't done any demos, but I've started to correct students who aren't locking their knee or who aren't sitting down low enough in Triangle Pose. This is how I learned to do it -- a teacher pointed out to me that I wasn't doing it properly. It seems to be working -- students are coming to me after class asking for more instruction, specifically around the locked out knee.

The Missus said...

Our studio owners have told us to make sure we are giving corrections to the regular students especially. So we definitely do that. I only do demos when there are so many people who clearly have no idea what they are doing. It's like one big giant correction.

ellelove7 said...

I always loved (when I was a new yogi) when teachers gave demos. Because often times you have no idea what is supposed to look like. Plus its fun to watch experienced yogis in their beautiful postures. :)