Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Instructors Say Dumb Things

Before the pitchforks and torches start waving and the organic tomatoes are thrown...I'm an instructor. I'm speaking from experience here. And I've said dumb things - recently in fact!  So not sharing what I said here.  A truly doh! moment.   

As a student, I've heard dumb things from instructors.  It happens.  

Instructors have to learn the art of multi-tasking mentally and spatially.   It's one thing to react to instructions, to be told you have to put your right foot forward, drop the left heel down, press back and lift the right arm overhead as the left hand moves down the back leg.

Now try and cue that backwards.  That's right.  The instructor is not infrequently cuing an entire class from the opposite side for visual effect.  They are stepping forward with their left foot, right heel is dropping back, left is reaching, right hand moving down.  They are telling you breathe while cueing modifications while mentally prepping for the next pose in the sequence.   At least in a vinyasa or flow style class.  Hatha, Iyengar, Restorative and Yin style classes are a bit slower paced allowing a bit more time for contemplation for the instructor. 

As an instructor, keeping an eagle eye on the class, thinking ahead, cueing, breathing, moving, thinking...can lead to the occasional dumb comment.  The kind that makes the instructor inwardly wince and go oops! and the students give them a funny look if they caught it.  Sometimes a quick apology and correction is necessary, sometimes you can let it slide by.  It just depends. 

However, as an instructor, have you tried talking less? 

Say what?  Yes.  Talk less.  Simplify.   

I got to thinking about this in my Ashtanga class this past week.  I had a group of strong regulars - a rarity this summer - and I was able to talk less.  Cue less.  Babble less.  Yes, instructors are known to babble.  It's like there is this compulsion to fill the silence with stuff:  Open the heart! Extend through your fingers! Lengthen the spine! Engage your quads! Feel the earth! Press into your heel!  Relax the shoulders! Move from the sacrum! 

And this isn't just in yoga.   I freqently see this when I'm at the gym. 

I personally find over cuing/over talking annoying.  It's an unwanted plethora of information that the brain just cannot assimilate in the amount of time a person is in a pose, usually about five breaths.  The brains shuts down and the students just tune all that chatter out after a while.  I know I do. 

It was a lot of fun to talk less.  To cue what pose to move into, let them breathe while offering individuals some quiet instruction as needed, counting the breath silently or out loud.  I didn't feel I had to fill the beautiful, warm, summer's evening's class with chatter.  The sounds of the street drifted up, kiddo's playing on the playground out front, a dog barking in the distance and some soft guitar music floating with the dust motes. 

Flowed through vinyasa.  We laughed through the harder poses.  And sweated. 

I'm sure I still said something dumb...but hopefully it was less dumb than usual. 

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