8 Common Yoga Poses That Are Easier to Teach (and Learn) at the Wall
Do you remember when you started to practice yoga? A lot of what you did was probably attempt to contort your body into some semblance of the shape your teacher was trying to help you understand. How many times did you ask yourself, “This looks right… right?!”
Each time you teach beginners, you have an opportunity to connect with students who are like your former self. Although you want to give those who are new to yoga all the help you can, it can be impossible to give everyone your everything, given the additional time and attention beginners require. A wall can act as a second teacher in the room by helping you guide students into feeling proper alignment in their bodies.
Yes, a wall.
The science of learning how to move
As a teacher, it helps to understand how students learn to produce a new movement. We are not taught this in a typical yoga teacher training, but the neuroanatomy of learning is just as significant as the musculoskeletal anatomy. When we teach a yoga pose to students, the need to engage their motor control system to produce movement and their sensory system to perceive movement. These motor and sensory messages travel via neural pathways to and from the periphery of their bodies.
When first trying to hone in on a new movement or skill, the brain can sometimes connect with the body in a way that feels “out of network.” The brain calls upon the body to coordinate a new orchestration of movements, and then several of those calls get dropped and the student becomes disoriented. You know, when suddenly you don’t know your right from your left and everything feels confusing. This can be frustrating for both students and teachers alike!
One reason this can happen is that sensory information students receive from their bodies is simply too subtle to be noticed among the vast amount of new information being thrown at them. Another is that even though teachers offer precise anatomical cues with the best of intentions, the reality is a lot of beginner students don’t yet understand how to move their bodies into yoga poses and might be thinking, “What does that even mean?!”
All of this helps students better understand the basics of a pose before they later practice it away from the wall. It also helps them develop a strong mind-body connection. Whether you aim to provide extra support or get your students in touch with muscles they didn’t even know they had, the wall is your friend.
See also: The 8 Best Yoga Poses for Beginners
How to teach yoga to beginners at the wall
In each asana, I have provided cues for how to come into the pose. Practice teaching these cues before trying them in class. Try them out in your own practice. Notice if anything in your own body may be helpful to mention to your students. I have also provided you with some of the benefits that you can share with your students. I have found that students can better understand the cues and tend to connect deeper to teaching that is paired with reason and purpose. You might even discover some of your own “whys” along the way.
You do not need to use every single cue below. I have shared many so that you can discover what resonates with you the most and mix and match as you please.