Whether you’re into “that energy stuff” or not, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had experiences with an environment or person giving off a bad “vibe.” It’s also possible you’ve had the inexplicable experience of “feeling good” in a place or with someone. What you felt is considered the “vibe.” A quick Google search tells us a vibe is “a person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others.”
What’s this have to do with yoga? The atmosphere an instructor creates for their class is a determining factor in why students are drawn to attend and why they choose to return. In the interest of sharing the benefits of yoga with as many people as possible, it is important for instructors to consider the student experience when planning classes. Let’s look at the 3 reasons the class vibe matters.
- Students don’t come to yoga to learn a new language. I love Sanskrit and have a deep appreciation for my thorough training including it. However, most people are relatively unaware of this language and even yoga philosophy. Keeping the language clear, anatomical, and directional with an emphasis on the postural benefits will make the practice accessible to a wider audience.
- Students want to breathe fresh air. I don’t know about you, but I am not into getting centered while trying to recover from an asthma attack (I speak from experience). It is much less intimidating if attending a yoga class doesn’t accost the senses or feel like a cult initiation. Many people are still resistant or fearful of yoga philosophy and symbols (statues, altars, chanting, etc) so keeping the learning space free from distractions allows them to be more present and experience the benefits of the physical practice, which is most likely why they came to class.
- Students like music that moves them. Music speaks to me on a cellular level, and I know I’m not alone in my experience. If your class is meditative and slow paced, choose music that supports the timing. When teaching a more energetic, powerful practice, students like music with a good beat, even up-tempo at peak points in the flow. It can be instrumental, it can have lyrics, just keep them clean and positive. Choosing lyrics that don’t compete with your instruction is critical. Most important is the class’ ability to hear your cues so consider the volume of both your voice and the music throughout the practice.
As instructors, the environment created for the students is just as important to consider as your sequencing. You can be a creative sequencer, but if your playlist is lackluster and space is cluttered or odiferous, then people will never experience your sequencing genius. Or they’ll be so focused on all the other “stuff” going on they won’t remember the practice. Word of mouth can make or break class attendance. Consider the student experience when designing or choosing your teaching spaces and marketing your classes. Bring students to the mat, give them an accessible and memorable experience, and keep them coming back. Let the yoga do the work.