Last month, Veronika held a one day workshop on teaching yoga and mindfulness to teens in urban settings. It is easy to think that a teacher can approach any class with the same attitude and be successful, but it is important to remember the unique needs of each student, and how their environment will affect your yoga class.
According to the Department for Education, 24.2% of pupils in state-funded secondary schools in Europe are of a minority ethnic origin. In inner London, 42.5% of pupils don’t have english as their first language. As a yoga teacher in this environment we need to think about how yoga can be brought to young people from various cultures, backgrounds, and faiths.
Here are just a few of the things to keep in mind when approaching a new yoga class in an urban setting.
As is the case in London, many students from a Muslim heritage choose to wear a head scarf. Some prefer to remove the scarf during yoga, in girls only classes, others will leave it on. If the latter is the case, be aware of what poses may be challenging for those students, and offer modifications as needed. In our teacher training, we gave our trainees the option to put on head coverings to better understand how this effects the practice. The experience was very humbling, and one we suggest teachers try to better connect with all students.
Challenging behaviour and Special Needs:
The number of pupils in the UK with behavioural and mental health problems is on the rise. From verbal aggression, bullying, and causing harm to others, these behaviours can make their way into the yoga classroom. Additionally, students with special needs including learning difficulties, physical impariments, and social challenges may be in your class, and can no doubt reap wonderful benefits from being there. As you prepare for such a class, there are steps you can take to help things go smoothly.
- Be in contact with the school and make sure you are briefed on any students who may have special needs or are prone to challenging behaviour.
- Consider which poses will be appropriate or inappropriate for this class, should you stay away from partner poses that could encourage aggression?
- Ask for a teaching assistant if necessary. The school staff are more familiar with the student’s needs, and the students may be more likely to behave if an assistant is present. This person can also help diffuse and difficult situations that may arise.
- Find out how the school deals with issues that come up and work with them to resolve these issues as they happen.
Remember, no two yoga classrooms are the same, and each presents it’s own unique atmosphere and possible challenges. Keep an open mind and be flexible in your lesson plan. Most importantly, remember to have fun, you have as much to gain from this experience as your students!
To learn more join our upcoming teacher training “Teaching Yoga & Mindfulness to Teenagers”
CAMILLE is a Masters Student at King’s College London pursuing a degree in international child studies. Her interest lies in the work with teenage girls, specifically in matters relating to self-esteem and body image.
VERONIKA is the founder of Teen Yoga & Mindfulness. She is an experienced RT500 Yoga teacher, Mindfulness teacher and teacher trainer for adults and young people. She also works as a counsellor and training integrative psychotherapist.