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LYB teacher learnings and suggestions
Learn from the experts! Here are some gems of wisdom from teaches as they reflect on their recent teaching experience. We hope our training provides an excellent foundation, and we recognize that the most learning comes from within the classroom.
In your class, what did you find most helpful?
"A slow pace, clear and simple instructions, and a warm, safe atmosphere"
"Cues to limit extra head movement for students working with vertigo, use of blankets/bolster under forehead in child's pose, limited use of music and bell due to student noise sensitivities, repeating student names during discussion portion"
"1. Not overwhelming them with cues
2. Give them space during some of the poses for breath and body awareness.
3. Repeated either quote or cues several times- with space in between."
"Routine schedule, theme, a quiet space"
"Visual markers rather than right/left, modifications in general, incorporating specific props for specific people"
"Slowing down, keeping things as simple as possible, less is more"
"Minimal External Stimulation (i.e. soothing music, few outside noises or other unnecessary distractions), the teacher and/or assistant modeling poses/the flow and the assistant being present to assist individual students and finally, constantly verbally communicating self-acceptance to the students with where one is at that day, that moment and that it's all yoga-can't really do it wrong! Really stressing and praising the small steps forward. If I could also add that it was good to laugh together. Additionally, the slower pace of the flow is vital as the lines of communication from the teacher modeling and verbalizing each pose to the student hearing and integrating the directions may take longer for some students. It's imperative that the students not feel rushed thus leading to frustration and ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)."
"The reminder to go slow, the constant reminder to focus on their breath, and Steve's beautiful reminder that even if all we do is one pose and breath, class was a success! Practical things like having chairs available and having people double up their mats to help relieve soreness on their knees.
The groups enthusiasm was also very helpful. Laughter in lions breath encouraged students who were a bit shy to join in, high fives after a tree pose encouraged everyone to try the pose again. The community aspect and enthusiasm of the class was key. Everyone encouraged each other.
That was more than three..."
"The variety of meditations to lead, remembering the importance of reconnecting to the breath, creating space and time for processing"
"1. reminding everyone to do what feels right for their own body, 2. letting them know that this is a first for us too:) 3., saying honesty is the best policy (to your body and in group discussion)"
"Practicing the sequence on my own, use of guided meditations and review of concepts and themes prior to class so I could feel comfortable saying them in my own words"
"Speaking in a voice that can be heard throughout the room - Having the pose be demonstrated or verbally cued in a clear and concise way - Being confident in knowledge of the series"
"1) the slower pace with verbal instructions 2) slower pace for transitions 3) welcoming and accepting environment"
"Relaxing atmosphere, clear guidance, repetition"
"Repetition, clear cuing, positive reinforcement"
"Providing modifications, providing encouragement, and cultivating a positive and caring community"
"Demonstrating postures, modification of the studio (i.e. Close curtains, manage temperature, no scents), consistent wording when teaching"
What didn't work so well?
"Giving too many directions at once, moving too quickly"
"Child's pose - usually used for rest but just didn't seem comfortable for anyone even with props"
"In general, I found that adding one extra breath to each movement in a little vinyasa sequence worked well--for example, the table-child's-cobra flow. It look them longer than one inhale or exhale to get into the next posture. I think there is also too much time spend on hands and knees. I had a lot of bad knees in this class. Moving into cobra and back to table was particularly challenging. High lunge also took everything out of them, in terms of strength and balance"
"Forcing" an assist-we had a woman who wanted to be independent even if it took longer to transition from pose to pose or from mat to standing. We placed her near the wall and also gave her a chair to she could transition with more independence"
"Some of the poses were too advanced, so I was not able to teach them as part of the sequence, because I would lose the group"
"Music. We nixed music the first day. Too much to concentrate on, even though I had very gentle music playing..music. We nixed music the first day. Too much to concentrate on, even though I had very gentle music playing..."
"It was challenging having one student that was much more limited than other students in the sense that it was harder to give them more feedback and attention during the class because we had to focus more on the student with more limitations"
"Clearly understanding adjustment needs. We had the YES/NO disks on the last day and seeing how many students had NO up made me realize that many did not want to be adjusted or touched and had not always made that clear without the disks. Clearly understanding adjustment needs. We had the YES/NO disks on the last day and seeing how many students had NO up made me realize that many did not want to be adjusted or touched and had not always made that clear without the disks"
"Saying right and left while teaching"
"Warrior 2 and Triangle, most of them were not ready for these poses"
"Some more abstract discussion topics were challenging for some students - for example the recovery vs. resilience discussion. I offered repetition of the definitions and use of personal experience to clarify the meanings"
"Standing balancing poses did not seem to be much of a problem for the students in this class, but kneeling poses that required balance caused some difficulty and frustration until modifications were provided"
"Residual smells caused difficulty for some as did light from many windows. 2 Needed additional physical assistance"
"The light was described as being a bit too much, we have dark colored blinds, which help filter the sunlight, but it can still be very bright. The dimmers throughout the studio work well though. The light was described as being a bit too much, we have dark colored blinds, which help filter the sunlight, but it can still be very bright. The dimmers throughout the studio work well though"
"Getting onto all fours was difficult for about half of the group as most of our clients were still in a lot of pain from their accidents. We did a lot of modifying in chairs"
"Quite a few students had issues with the lunge sequences, in terms of keeping their balance. However, with modifications and props they were mostly able to do it. Also, class went late most days, and that did create issues with some students who had other commitments or rides waiting (i.e., they had to miss the discussion portion)."
How did your teaching grow from teaching our FUNdamentals series?
"Honestly, I got so emotional during the last class because it just hit me how this is exactly where I want to be and where I am meant to be. This series and the postures and breathing and meditations and discussions and connections - everything - touched each student so deeply it was so clear and so beautiful to see and I am just so grateful to be in a place with my teaching and experience level to be able to provide that. :) Just thank you for trusting me to bring this magic to Boston! For future teachers: this will likely be the most meaningful yoga you will teach, so lead with your heart and compassion and use the themes to guide you and your students will get exactly what they need"
"It was very different to teach a series that I did not create myself. I think this opened me to other ways of sequencing and understanding why the meditations/class structure was a very specific way in order to work with TBIs. I learned more about how to work with TBIs"
"My teaching grew in many ways! I'm not a teacher who mirrors a lot. Teaching this series helped me to see the importance of mirroring and the ability to strengthen this skill. I also am not use to staying on my mat. Teaching from the mat forced me to speak clearly, succinctly. I felt that this experience allowed me to develop more comfort in the uncomfortable, i.e. Having all eyes staring at you and doing exactly what you say. This increased my confidence and also taught me how helpful and nurturing I can be even if I'm not physically assisting students. I also found myself "trusting more in the practice itself" and allowing it to do the "heavy lifting." What I mean by this is that the nature of the series is a healthy balance of challenge and nurture. I felt confidence and assurance in knowing that the students could always modify or take child's pose, savasana, etc, to support them at any moment. This approach is very empowering for both teacher and student.
"I feel like I'm a more compassionate and patient teacher. There were more "disruptions" - talking in class, getting up off the mat to move around, phones ringing, arriving late, etc., but I learned that those things didn't matter as much as I thought they would. I learned to better harness and reflect back the energy in the group, which was full of positivity and an eagerness to learn from the beginning"
"I gained so much insight from the people in my class as to what life was like with a TBI regarding matters like sensory overload and balance issues. I gained a better understanding of how to work with these factors when helping people cultivate a yoga and meditation practice"
"I learned more about the power of taking things slow. Having taught this series for a fourth time, I sometimes felt a little bored because of the repetition, but hearing the positive feedback from students was a great way to remind myself why this process is so beneficial!"
"I reconnected to my meditation practice and rediscovered how simple, purposeful movement and poses can have a huge impact when paired with thoughtful themes"
"Learned that less is more for folks with TBI"
"I think my class and I would agree that the best part about the series is the discussion component. Be sure to leave plenty of time to talk and be prepared to guide the conversation a bit as things can easily get off-topic or long-winded. Allow time for everyone to speak"
"This series, I became more in tune with the various sensations in the yoga room and how those sensitive to light, sound, temperature, smell may be impacted. I learned how to minimize distraction from the other senses to allow students to focus on yoga and meditation more easily"
"As a teacher, this series helped foster a more compassionate, and patient approach to my teaching, as well as helped better understand my students' individual backgrounds that influence what they bring to their mat in my classes."
"Since this was my first time assisting and seeing a class in action, I grew in everyday. Watching the TBI students performing the poses, improving on them weekly, bonding together as a class, sharing their stories and emotions - really the entire experience was simply extraordinary"
"I felt much more comfortable with the actual sequence this time around, which allowed me to modify it more easily for the individuals in the room"
"I grew as a person so my teaching in turn grew. I found myself being more patient and talking slower to accommodate the students"
"My love for therapeutic yoga grew deeply through this series, and I already teach almost exclusively therapeutic yoga! I feel this is where I am supposed to be. I could see how powerful the group classes were for participants in terms of empowerment and support and belonging, especially with the addition of the discussion. I am considering adding a discussion component in my other therapeutic classes"
"I learned more about the invisible symptoms of a concussion/TBI (vertigo, dizziness, headaches, neck pain, chronic pain"
"I learned just being present is sometimes all that is needed"
"As assistant my primary goal was to watch each student carefully as they practiced. As I got to know each student's style, I could anticipate who might need additional props and who might like a gentle assist"
Did you learn anything about the TBI community that may be insightful for other teachers to know as they prepare?
"Yes! I learned we all have good day, and bad days, but living with a TBI may exasperate that experience and the experience can change quickly (migraines, fatigue, mood) and many factors can contribute to a change-such as scents, lighting, even the movement of the water from the river outside the window. I learned that some folks take a while to process what was asked. If I asked a student to side bend right and it didn't happen right away, it's not that they didn't hear or understand, it just takes a few extra moments to put it all together. The community aspect of the series is what makes it so special. I think it's important to give enough time for everyone to speak during the end. Some people speak easily, others need to hear the question asked again or asked a different way, but everyone needs an opportunity to share if they want to. The series was challenging, but so rewarding to teach. It took me about class four to feel comfortable with what I was doing. Give yourself time to learn. Everyone is there learning together"
"Take things slow. even if you feel like you are going too slow, it more than likely feels right for the clients. Also repetition is important and more than often needed. you wont sound redundant, I promise!"
"(1) I knew this to a degree before, but sound affects everyone differently. Even the sound of chatter before class or chewing (as in the raisin meditation) can negatively impact someone's experience. (2) Empowerment: framing modifications as choices and self-care rather than "less of a challenge" or an "easier variation." It's a simple, but important shift. Also emphasizing the benefit of visualization such that someone can participate by visualizing the movement while breathing in rest. (3) People with TBI need to be allowed to be angry/sad/frustrated, but in a delicate way, the series can help with perspective"
"This was not a population I had worked with before, so I was especially nervous and didn't know what to expect. The most important thing is that they are people - not an injury, not defined by their abilities or limits. I learned so much from the participants - grace through struggle and the perseverance of spirit. I was touched by their openness and honesty and willingness to try new things"
"From my observations as the assistant, watching actions and reactions and frustrations of students, I think that bringing in more trauma-informed language and offering more options/modifications in the instruction language (and letting go of alignment-based language) is very important"
"I experimented with keeping the discussion open and having people share "popcorn style." It really generated some energy in the group, especially as they were getting to know each other--they came up with new questions and ideas and bounced things off of each other. But after a week or two, it became clear that a few people would simply never share if they had to volunteer, so I switched to moving around the circle. By the last couple of weeks we found a sort of happy medium. It does take active facilitation to get all the way around the circle and allow for space to process"
"There is such a beautiful sense of unity and camaraderie among those dealing with these injuries. Maybe this is just me, but I found it really important to specify that while I want to deeply support those in the class, there is no way I can know really what it is like to deal with a TBI. I felt it really necessary to mention that when I lead any of the discussion period"
"Just the creating space, using the wall was really helpful as a prop, they enjoyed the engaging postures, as much as the relaxing ones. most wanted to work on balance. they also enjoyed the meditation and pranayama"
"Each day is different for these people. They may need to rest more one day than another or do less poses one day than another. You can't assume that if something is easy for you, it is easy for them. Also, you can't always see the difficulties, whether they be a pounding head or a vision impairment or something else"
"I learned that everyone will be different, every single week! Do not count on what happened one week to happen the following week. With that being said, check in with your students each week so you can best understand their needs for that particular class"
"I would recommend mirroring when teaching as left and right can be confusing. I would also recommend to slow down cueing as a majority of teachers from a vinyasa style class and to remind the class that everyone's body and ability is unique so one of the teacher's breathe may not be the same as yours and that is okay"
"The students in my class seemed to like the calming binaural beats I played in class (usually from a Spotify playlist called Hemi Sync). These are now my go-to for calming instrumental yoga or meditation music, and the genre of music might be a good resource for teachers who are working with the TBI community. The people in our group who had suffered a TBI seemed to feel so genuinely moved that people like myself and Christie, who hadn't experienced a TBI, took interest in better understanding what they have gone through and helping in some small way. So many times our students spoke of frustrations with medical providers and other players in the process of going through an accident and recovery. It became clear to me that for them to be in an environment because of their TBI, but for that environment to be nurturing, compassionate, and community-oriented was a new experience for many."
"They are individuals! Understanding that although they share a common experience of having a brain injury and may share many similar experiences because of this, they still react and respond in different ways. I think being open with your students and asking directly what works for them and what doesn't (especially in terms of yoga poses, lighting, music, etc.) is really useful, and everyone tends to appreciate being asked their preferences rather than you trying to guess!"
"I spoke with Kyla but propping / padding underneath the head is helpful for those who are uncomfortable with the back of the head on the ground"
"Some students main goal for coming to the class was for the community part of class, so definitely important not to cut short on the discussion! They were all so happy to connect and share with others. Lastly, even if someone is newer from their injury (and cleared by their doctor), they can participate and thrive with this program! "
"Many do not sleep well and may have days where the class plan is too vigorous for them. Be prepared to think on your feet and perceive the needs of the class that day"
"If you need to stop the class and explain something do it. You'll find your flow again shortly after! Also don't go too slow at the beginning or the middle/end can feel rushed"
"It is important to get to know each student individually and encourage them to be honest about how the series is going for them, since not all of them may just reach out and tell you that!"
"Community- Community. How connected they felt to each other. I think I assumed there were more resources out there for TBI but found that they do not have the resources"
"I simply loved the extended yoga family that LYB has provided for us all. I truly feel, as often happens, that much more was given to me than I offered. What a gift to be part of LYB. My heart is bursting with gratitude"
"Trust and listen to your students. Their feedback and knowledge of their own bodies will allow you the freedom to teach and trust in the outcome"
"Keeping it light and using humor really helps (of course, when appropriate)"
"One student came with an anxiety condition that caused her to exhibit symptoms of stroke of paralysis. She said that this condition had given her such fear that she hadn't left her house in years. Although she did experience this twice in my class, we calmed down together using Breathing techniques. She said she felt more confident than ever after completing the series"
"There were several occasions that I saw individuals in the class arguing and agitated when they arrived to class. So, just to see how much the community still struggles with day to day life even years after injury. It was really lovely to see how much the class helped them and how relaxed they were by the end of class"
"Know that the work is deeply appreciated by the TBI community! The students in my class were so supportive of me as a first-time LYB teacher, and so supportive of each other throughout the entire 6 weeks and beyond"
"I learned more about their frustration with traditional medicine/rehab and how so many of them seek out other treatments in compliment to their medical management - acupuncture, medical marijuana, etc. I think it is good for teachers to know that those things may come up and it is important to have space for them to share their own experiences and resources, but to remain neutral"
"People are craving community, understanding and nonjudgemental acceptance, which was so clear here. Just showing up can be so challenging in itself"
- Dancing Warrior 2
Chair cat cow flow
Chair table top → cobra → table → child’s flow
- Supine cat cow
Group Discussion and Psychoeducation
Class 1: Establishing ground rules
Class 2: Mental flexibility through mindfulness
Class 3: Realistic optimism through mindfulness and reframing
Class 4: Facing fear, resilience not recovery
Class 5: Social support through building community
Class 6: Meaning and purpose through finding gratitude