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Show Me Your Plans

Why do some teachers hide their lesson plans? By Diane Ashfield

Reading time: 4 minutes

A long time ago during a yoga class, I popped my head up whilst resting in Balasana (child’s pose) and noticed my teacher glancing over his lesson plan. Nothing unusual there, but then he hurriedly shoved it underneath his mat before the rest of the class came back up to sitting. I couldn’t understand why he was being so secretive and didn’t want any of his students to see him reading his plan. It wasn’t until I caught a few more teachers doing exactly the same thing – looking at their notes then hiding them under their mats when they thought nobody was looking – that I realised this must be a regular occurrence among teachers. But why?

Some teachers think that it looks better if they teach the class without any notes or plans, because it demonstrates how clever they are that they can remember all the sequences throughout the whole class without referring to any notes. It’s obviously an ego thing, but surely one of the first things we are taught in teacher training is that yoga has no ego?

When I first started attending yoga classes, my Iyengar teacher would hand each student a copy of her lesson plan. This was like a mini newsletter, including a list of all the postures we would be practicing in that session (all the asana were in Sanskrit) plus a quote from Iyengar or some other inspirational words of wisdom.

Her lesson plan was a great ice breaker for newcomers and a talking point for her students while we were sitting on the mat waiting for the class to begin. We were especially drawn to the postures listed in Sanskrit – we would all take turns in trying to remember what the English name of each pose was! It also gave us an insight to what muscle groups and joints we would be working on, giving us an opportunity to discuss any concerns with the teacher before the class plus a quote from Iyengar or some other inspirational words of wisdom.

I’ve always taught with my lesson plan in front of me and have never tried to disguise the fact that I refer to it during a class, nor hidden it under my mat. Even though I may have taught a particular posture numerous times, I always have my plan to hand because:

  • It shows that I have a structured class.
  • It demonstrates to my students that I’m not making it up as I go along.
  • It helps me keep track with posture timings.
  • It’s great to look back on after the class has finished – helping me to reflect on what didn’t work or ways in which I could make the posture or flow work better the next time I teach that particular pose.

You don’t have to type out a full plan like I do; bullet points are fine written down on a piece of paper. And of course, there are always teachers who prefer not to work with a plan, but if you do - don’t hide it! Naturally, you don’t have to stick to every detail on your plan — it’s not set in stone, but it’s a great back-up should you lose track of where you are. This is particularly useful if you have any interruptions to your flow – such as when students ask questions, want to discuss a particular aspect of the pose you are teaching or just want to share an experience with the rest of the class.

Members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra may have performed a certain musical composition countless times and know the tune off by heart, but do they hide their sheet music under their seats? Of course not. Plus they also have the added bonus of the conductor to keep them on track. So teachers, please don’t hide your lesson plan under your mat – display it with pride. Let students know the class isn’t off the cuff – you have put time, effort and consideration into preparing this class just for them so they can feel good physically and mentally. In the words of BKS Iyengar: “Be inspired but not proud.”

Show Me Your Plans

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.