Today I taught my very first yoga workshop at Flying Tree Yoga Studios in Medellin, Colombia. In the first week here, I had the opportunity to share information about a specific topic related to yoga with the other interns in a very informal workshop type setting. I opted to share my knowledge of Yoga Nidra. It was quite well received, and so I decided to offer the class to the public. I found that there were a few important things to keep in mind as I developed the workshop.
There are a number of things to think about when preparing a workshop, with the first one (besides deciding on the practical aspects like pricing, length, location and timing, which were all easy for me to work out as there were limited options) being promotion. Here in the community of expats who frequent the yoga classes, it seems that Facebook and word of mouth are the best ways to promote classes and special events. Each class I taught at the studio and at Ondas cafe I made sure to mention the upcoming workshop and let people know what Yoga Nidra was and the workshop was listed on the in-studio schedule. I also created a flyer to promote my event.
I shared the flyer on my social media platforms and it was also promoted on the Flying Tree Facebook Page as well as on the Flying Tree events calendar.
After I promoted the event, I began to prepare for it. Being able to give the information in a more informal setting first really helped me to clarify what information I wanted to present and how it would be best delivered. As with an ‘presentation,’ the key is really knowing your stuff. I spent quite a bit of time reading books and journal articles in the week before the workshop to make sure I was clear on the information myself.
Breaking the workshop into specific parts, can help create a bit more structure and help you fill in any gaps in your own knowledge. For my Yoga Nidra workshop, I included a few different elements:
- Introduction and Welcome– Introducing yourself and what the format of the workshop is essential. Depending on your topic, you may also want the participants to introduce themselves to each other as well or do some type of ‘icebreaker’ exercise. Also make sure that they have all the items they will need for the workshop-props, pens, paper or anything else, and that they are set up in an appropriate way in the space.
- Some discussion about how much the participants know about the topic- Again, this helps to get the ball rolling and gives you an idea of your audience. If it turns out they all have more than a beginner’s base of knowledge about your topic, and you’ve created a beginner’s workshop, this allows you to adjust as you go along.
- Settling– If your workshop is focused mainly on seated learning, then it can be useful to begin with a meditation or other settling exercise to allow people to really land in the space and let go of their days. If your workshop is more active or asana-based, a warm-up may be more appropriate here!
- What is _____? – Start to introduce the topic in more depth.
- Practice or writing exercises– At this point, I led the participants through the first of two Yoga Nidra practices. If your content doesn’t involve a specific practice, using worksheets or encouraging journalling may be useful. After the practice, definitely encourage sharing to stimulate discussion.
- Bulk of the Content- Next I began to explore the specific benefits of Yoga Nidra, the way it’s practiced, some of the history of the practice, a bit of the science behind it, etc.
- Resources- I highly recommend providing some resources for your students in case they would like to continue to study the topic.
- Questions- I encouraged discussion and questions throughout the workshop and also made sure to check if there were any questions at the end.
- Practice– I ended the workshop with a longer Yoga Nidra practice. If your workshop is more asana-based, you may want to change this around a bit and leave time for a cool-down, the resources and questions at the end.
When it came time to deliver the workshop I felt confident that I knew my stuff and had lots of information to share.This makes a big difference in the delivery. It’s also important to create the appropriate atmosphere in your space, whether that’s by lighting candles, playing music or adding your own personal touches. If you feel comfortable and relaxed (or energized and strong), your students will pick up on that. You may certainly have notes and may like other tools such as whiteboards or handouts. In my case, I did not have access to a printer, so I had my computer beside me with the outline which wasn’t ideal, but looked at it very little, using it only as a guide. I found it useful to ground myself before the workshop began, and also made sure I had everything I might need.
During the workshop, I worked to maintain a relaxed and open demeanour and encouraged discussion by sharing personal experiences and giving examples. This can go along way in helping feel comfortable with sharing and asking questions.
At the end of the workshop, I encouraged people to leave their email address so I could send them further resources, information, and, upon the request of a participant, a recording of the Yoga Nidra practice from the workshop. It really helps complete the experience by providing some sort of follow-up.
I really enjoyed giving this workshop and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. If you’re starting out as a yoga teacher, I would recommend just going for it; choose something you feel passionate about and start your planning!