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Education and Career

Holding Space as a Yoga teacher: a complete guide

A Yoga class is a place of refuge from the constant flux of the modern world; as a teacher, navigating the space where people come together is an art.

Whether personal, societal, political, or even global, a yoga space is a place where practitioners can come to process the realities of everyday life and return to themselves.

A teacher is the artist of this space, crafting an environment where all emotions, opinions, and ways of being are held and heard, where practitioners feel encouraged to journey into their inner world.

What is holding space in yoga

A yoga class is more than just a series of poses; it’s a sanctuary where individuals gather to find peace amidst the chaos of daily life. For a teacher, the art of navigating this space is crucial.

Holding space in yoga means creating an environment where all emotions, opinions, and ways of being are welcomed and respected. It’s about crafting a setting where practitioners feel encouraged to explore their inner world, making the yoga space a haven for personal and communal growth.

Those called to the role of a teacher are often very attuned to the energies of those around them and, in sharing their passion for yoga, have likely witnessed the revolution of awareness the practice brings. In stepping into the role of a teacher, one is responsible for creating a space that honors the individual experience and empowers students on their journey. Showing up for others in this way is a unique blessing and also a skill to be crafted.

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Why it is necessary to hold space as a yoga teacher

Fostering a supportive environment

The primary objective of holding space in yoga is to create a sanctuary that serves as a counterbalance to the outside world’s pressures and stresses.

This environment allows students to delve into their practice with a sense of safety and acceptance.

By doing so, the yoga space becomes a therapeutic refuge where individuals can openly process their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

As a teacher, ensuring this supportive atmosphere is crucial for facilitating a deep and meaningful practice where students can truly reconnect with their inner selves.

Empowering students

Holding space also empowers students to take charge of their yoga journey.

This empowerment comes from:

  • Encouraging exploration
  • Self-expression
  • And personal growth within the practice.

As a teacher, your guidance extends beyond the physical poses to include nurturing the students’ confidence in their abilities and intuition.

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This empowerment enables them to explore their limits, challenge themselves, and celebrate their progress, fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-worth that transcends the yoga mat.

Cultivating empathy and understanding

An essential aspect of holding space is the ability to empathize with and understand the diverse needs and energies of your students.

This requires a deep level of awareness and sensitivity from the teacher, who must be attuned to their students’ subtle cues and emotional states.

By cultivating empathy, you create a bond with your students that goes beyond the physical practice, making them feel seen, heard, and valued.

This connection is vital for building trust and a sense of community within the yoga space, where every individual’s journey is respected and supported

How to hold space as a yoga teacher

This is what yoga teachers should consider when preparing to teach:

1. Set The Tone

Be consistent in your yoga asana practice, whether it’s 20 minutes of practice in the morning or 2 hours or most likely something in between; maintaining your practice is necessary as a teacher firstly as a practice of coming back to yourself and also more practically in the sense to practice the physical postures you teach. In this way, you will be able to guide students through the nuances of expressions in a shape; exploring how postures feel in your body enlightens you to guide others to do the same.

2. Prioritize your well-being

The foundation of holding space effectively for others is rooted in your well-being.

Regular engagement in your yoga practice is essential, not only for maintaining your physical and emotional balance but also for embodying the principles you teach.

This self-care ensures you are present, grounded, and fully available to support your students.

When thinking about showing up for others, consider how you show up for yourself; make your practice and other forms of self-care a priority so you can offer your classes from a centered, nonreactive place.

3. Create a welcoming atmosphere

The physical environment plays a significant role in facilitating a supportive yoga space.

Let the space match the experience you wish to create; attention to detail such as lighting, scents, and sounds can transform a simple room into a sanctuary that welcomes students into a practice of mindfulness and relaxation.

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This atmosphere should invite tranquility and comfort, allowing students to leave their external concerns at the door and fully immerse in their practice.

4. Prepare for flexibility

Flexibility in teaching goes beyond the physical; it’s about adapting your class plan to meet the present moment’s needs.

This might mean altering your sequence to accommodate the energy level of the class or addressing specific needs that arise.

Throughout your career as a teacher, you’ll learn that preparing for class and surrendering the plan go hand in hand. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you won’t end up teaching what you planned or needing to adjust it, yet making sure you have a plan will help you hold a steady foundation for whatever adjustments need to be made.

5. Encourage intention setting

Guiding students to set personal intentions for their practice is a powerful way to deepen their experience.

This practice fosters a sense of personal engagement and responsibility for their journey, encouraging mindfulness and purpose in each movement and breath.

Each student will be coming to class for different things, and although you may have an idea of what’s going on with them, offering them the space to set the tone or intention of their practice gives them a sense of ownership in their experience, which can be very powerful.

6. Use inclusive language

Language is a tool that can either invite or alienate. Your word is your sword, and in a yoga class, your words hold so much weight and power in the creation of a student experience.

By choosing words that are inclusive and non-prescriptive, you create an environment where exploration and personal expression are valued.

This approach respects the diversity of your students’ experiences and bodies, making yoga accessible and enriching for everyone.

7. Respect student autonomy

Empowering students to take ownership of their practice is crucial.

This means allowing them the space to:

  • Explore
  • Make choices
  • And even make mistakes within their practice.

Such autonomy builds confidence and self-reliance, key components of a meaningful yoga journey.

8. Embrace authenticity

Your unique voice and perspective are invaluable assets in the yoga space.

By teaching from a place of authenticity, you share not just your knowledge of yoga but also your passion and personal insights.

This authenticity resonates with students, creating a more profound and connected learning experience.

By embodying these principles, yoga teachers can create a nurturing and empowering space that supports students in their personal and collective journeys, fostering a community of mindfulness, growth, and healing.

Learn how to hold space to be the best yoga teacher.

Holding space in a yoga class is a profound responsibility and privilege.

It’s about being present, open, and supportive, allowing students to explore the depths of their being in a safe and nurturing environment.

Remember, the essence of holding space is not about having all the answers but about fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and exploration. As a teacher, your role is to guide, support, and empower your students on their individual paths to self-discovery and growth.

Somatic practices such as yoga that bring one into total bodily awareness have been proven to be one of the most effective resources for moving through trauma. Holding space for people to journey into the depths of themselves is the great privilege of a teacher.

Remembering this, a teacher does not need to have the answers, an opinion, or the perfect advice. They simply need to be open and in reverence of each individual’s experience.

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