YogiKris

What can I do when a student doesn't want to do the class

9 posts in this topic

Hi everyone !

I need your help because recently I was in a situation where I was not able to know what to do... (Excuse my English, it's not perfect...)

I was teaching a class and a new student came to the class saying she was a beginner and she has never done yoga before but she was very interested about it. Fine ! She took a mat a roll out the mat next to me.

I began the class as usual with breathing exercices, some warm up and Adho mukha svanasana. Then we began sun salutations. I always explain everything during surya Namaskara (breath, movement, alignment) keeping a vinyasa flow then the lady stopped, sat down, and said "I don't want to do that !". I was not sure to understand so I said "what ?" And she repeat "I don't want to do that this is too complicated". Of course all of the students stopped and sat down as the lady, starring at me. One of the other student (a regular student who has usually no problem with sun salutation) said "yes it's hard, it's too fast". At the moment I thought I was surely too fast without realising it. It was surely my fault. So I said sorry no problem I will go slower. I began again with a very slow flow, explaining everything in details, showing and giving different options for advanced and beginners. The new lady sat down again and said "no, keep going but me I don't do that". So for the next sun salutation I came close to her and I showed her again the movement even slower. She finally did it.

It was a little bit hard during all of the practice because I felt like if the new student had a lack of confidence and I think she was afraid to not be good enough compared to the others. I reassured her saying trust yourself, you can do it. But I felt like if she had an impact on the entire group.

I would like to know what we are supposed to do when a student says "no" during the class and disturbs all of the class ? I had a lot of doubts and re-evaluate myself. I was thinking I did something wrong. But when I think about the class, I think I was slow and I explained and showed everything properly. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't want to force anyone to do something he/she is not comfortable with. But most of the time when a student does something, the others follow. The class was very weird because I felt like she was disturbing the others who have usually no problem with the class. Even the advanced was not listening to me anymore. The class was a mess and it was the first time it happened to me. I was a little bit confused... I continued the class, trying to create a connection between members of the group to make them move in a nice flow where they would be all comfortable but it was like running a marathon. I'm a young yoga teacher, I teach for 4 months so I had no idea what I was supposed to do, in this situation...

Do you think my reaction was ok ? What are we supposed to do in this kind of situation, when a student sat down and refuses to do the class ?

In advance, thank you for your answers. Namaste !

YogaByCandace likes this

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I'm not a teacher, but I volunteer at a NFP where we use horses for therapy. In my experience, when the clients say "no," it is often because they are scared. They are scared, anxious or their system has gotten too much information or something along those lines. It makes sense; ponies and horses are animals with brains. They can be scary. Not everyone is very gung-ho and says, "OKAY, LET'S TRY THIS!" like, well, me. I may not always yell it out, I may be a little timid about trying it out, but gosh darn it, there is no, "I can't" in my vocabulary. For the "Nope, can't do this" people we always encourage trying. We bring out the most bombproof, sweetest pony in the barn (Chance) and start with just having them get into the arena. Now, can you get near Chance? Touch him? Pet him?

Basically, if you find people struggling, slow it down and encourage trying, but don't go so out of your way everyone suffers. Then your practice suffers.

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Wow that a situation! I feel like you did the best you could do, don't you? If so, let that be enough. It's your student's issue. I always tell students that if they're not feeling up to doing what I have planned, that's ok - they can rest in child's pose or savasana, but that they don't need to explain their reasoning to me or anyone next to them - they have the freedom to take a break if they want. Maybe you could start saying something similar? I feel like if the student had just gone into child's pose for a rest, then no one else would've been bothered. But to have someone exclaim 'it's too confusing' and then just sit and watch everyone else might make everyone else feel uncomfortable? It sounds like perhaps the person was just so new they didn't understand the basics and it really is a lot of information at once especially if they've never practiced before. I hope that's somewhat helpful! I think the fact that you're evaluating yourself and really tried to make things better shows you're an incredible teacher. Don't discredit yourself. <3 

YogiKris likes this

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That's why I think I struggle with the idea of a class. I'm still so new that I don't feel like I'll be able to follow. I did an aerobics class once; I couldn't keep up because I hadn't danced in so long my body had forgotten many of the moves and it gave me so much anxiety. No one ever said, "Don't be afraid to fix the aerobics to fit your aerobic level."

I think it's great when a teacher says at the beginning, "If you feel uncomfortable, don't be afraid to do something that suits you." It could be because I am so literal and sometimes so attached to "rules"  that I need someone to say, "do something that suits you." It's silly but it's freeing when people say that. Even when I'm in the arena riding, I still have to remind myself, "Okay, I can trot but I don't have to go around the arena the whole time. I can make big circles around the corners, figure eights, serpentines, reverse the rail, go over the poles, make a giant circle around half the arena! I don't just have to go around the arena. Use my space!"

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On 11/7/2016 at 4:15 AM, KateZena said:

I'm not a teacher, but I volunteer at a NFP where we use horses for therapy. In my experience, when the clients say "no," it is often because they are scared. They are scared, anxious or their system has gotten too much information or something along those lines. It makes sense; ponies and horses are animals with brains. They can be scary. Not everyone is very gung-ho and says, "OKAY, LET'S TRY THIS!" like, well, me. I may not always yell it out, I may be a little timid about trying it out, but gosh darn it, there is no, "I can't" in my vocabulary. For the "Nope, can't do this" people we always encourage trying. We bring out the most bombproof, sweetest pony in the barn (Chance) and start with just having them get into the arena. Now, can you get near Chance? Touch him? Pet him?

Basically, if you find people struggling, slow it down and encourage trying, but don't go so out of your way everyone suffers. Then your practice suffers.

Thank you for your answer. I also felt like if she was afraid to do it and not be good enough. But she was young and flexible so I wanted to encourage her because I knew she was able to do it. She seemed to have a lack of confidence (not just for yoga) and I wanted her to leave the class thinking "I'm a badass I did it and I am proud of myself" :). It's nice to compare your experience as a therapist with horses and me as a yoga teacher. Thank you for sharing your experience.

 

On 11/7/2016 at 5:36 PM, YogaByCandace said:

Wow that a situation! I feel like you did the best you could do, don't you? If so, let that be enough. It's your student's issue. I always tell students that if they're not feeling up to doing what I have planned, that's ok - they can rest in child's pose or savasana, but that they don't need to explain their reasoning to me or anyone next to them - they have the freedom to take a break if they want. Maybe you could start saying something similar? I feel like if the student had just gone into child's pose for a rest, then no one else would've been bothered. But to have someone exclaim 'it's too confusing' and then just sit and watch everyone else might make everyone else feel uncomfortable? It sounds like perhaps the person was just so new they didn't understand the basics and it really is a lot of information at once especially if they've never practiced before. I hope that's somewhat helpful! I think the fact that you're evaluating yourself and really tried to make things better shows you're an incredible teacher. Don't discredit yourself. <3 

Thank you Candace for this answer. I usually say to the student to rest in child pose when I feel the posture/sequence is too much for him/her. But in this case I felt like if she had a lack of confidence and I was trying to help her winning confidence in herself. But I think you're right, if I would ask her to rest in child pose, she would not disturb the rest of the class. I admit that every time I propose the child pose I am afraid the student feels out of the group and feels like I forget him/her. I don't know, maybe this kind of thought is a "beginner teacher" thought ? I feel like if I did my best and every time I am in front of a resistance I re-evaluate myself because I have still a lot to learn. Nobody talks about this kind of situation during teacher training and I had no idea what to do haha. Thank you for your answer, if it happens to me again, I will propose the child pose to let the rest of the group enjoy the practice. I think this is the best option to keep a class safe and in cohesion. 

yogafire likes this

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@YogiKris I'm not a therapist; I'm a straight up volunteer, but I was a client too (I outgrew the NFP side; I work with a coach who is friends with the owner and uses the same horses.) When I volunteer, I'm often in the back brushing the horses and tacking/untacking the horses (i.e. putting on and taking off their gear) but I'm in the arena too.

A personal experience: in August, the horse I was used to riding and had a lot of confidence riding - a 15.3 hand (a hand is 4") quarter horse named Scooby Doo - was taken away from me and I was put on this extremely tall (17 hands) draft horse named Vince for the Special Olympics. I became extremely nervous/scared as I had never ridden anything taller than me. Confidence went down the drain. I had been working with this coach for just a few weeks and now I'm given this new horse that is HUGE and a totally different temperament. I broke down once during a lesson because I missed my relationship with Scooby and I was so frustrated with my teacher. You can't see it now because we work really well (coach, horse and me), but we had a rough patch.

Horseback riding and yoga have a lot in common; all of your emotions show in your practice. Something new requires a lot of guts and an innate trust in your teacher. Sometimes, gaining trust and intuition takes time! As you learn and teach, you'll know when to step in and when to not. That just takes experience, just like learning to trust your horse to get you over obstacles with ease takes practice.

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18 hours ago, KateZena said:

@YogiKris I'm not a therapist; I'm a straight up volunteer, but I was a client too (I outgrew the NFP side; I work with a coach who is friends with the owner and uses the same horses.) When I volunteer, I'm often in the back brushing the horses and tacking/untacking the horses (i.e. putting on and taking off their gear) but I'm in the arena too.

A personal experience: in August, the horse I was used to riding and had a lot of confidence riding - a 15.3 hand (a hand is 4") quarter horse named Scooby Doo - was taken away from me and I was put on this extremely tall (17 hands) draft horse named Vince for the Special Olympics. I became extremely nervous/scared as I had never ridden anything taller than me. Confidence went down the drain. I had been working with this coach for just a few weeks and now I'm given this new horse that is HUGE and a totally different temperament. I broke down once during a lesson because I missed my relationship with Scooby and I was so frustrated with my teacher. You can't see it now because we work really well (coach, horse and me), but we had a rough patch.

Horseback riding and yoga have a lot in common; all of your emotions show in your practice. Something new requires a lot of guts and an innate trust in your teacher. Sometimes, gaining trust and intuition takes time! As you learn and teach, you'll know when to step in and when to not. That just takes experience, just like learning to trust your horse to get you over obstacles with ease takes practice.

Oops sorry I thought you were a therapist :)

You're right the two activities have a lot in common. And yes I will learn thanks to experience. You're not a teacher after 200hrs training, you become a teacher with work, practice, patience and experience (and a lot of passion :) ).

Thank you for sharing your experience it's good to apprehend things in a different perspective.

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I think that would be the oddest and most off-putting experience.  I'm sorry you had that happen to you!  I think you just quietly acknowledge that some days are for taking things gently with ourselves and some days are for exploring further growth.  And then continue.  Maybe provide a child's post option while the others move through the sun salutations.  As a teacher, I think there is always opportunity to look at our teaching to see if there is something we should be doing differently.  Student feedback is important.  However, if you've done this and feel that you were providing good instruction, then you  have to just move on and try to shake off the negative experience.  Best wishes to you.

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17 hours ago, Lorelei said:

I think that would be the oddest and most off-putting experience.  I'm sorry you had that happen to you!  I think you just quietly acknowledge that some days are for taking things gently with ourselves and some days are for exploring further growth.  And then continue.  Maybe provide a child's post option while the others move through the sun salutations.  As a teacher, I think there is always opportunity to look at our teaching to see if there is something we should be doing differently.  Student feedback is important.  However, if you've done this and feel that you were providing good instruction, then you  have to just move on and try to shake off the negative experience.  Best wishes to you.

Thank you for your answer ! You're right I'm still learning and the child pose was surely the best option to do. This experience made me learned about my teaching and myself. But yes it was a very weird experience haha. As you said the student feedback is important and I always listen to them to improve myself, this is the reason why I posted here because even if I was thinking about it few days after I still had no idea what I was supposed to do in this kind of situation. I take it as an experience to grow up as a teacher. Thank you again for your answer. The community is so lovely here ?

yogafire likes this

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