How much talking is too much? It can be a fine balance. When you’re teaching, depending on the scenario (for example, who you are teaching, the kind of setting, etc.) it can take a bit of time to ascertain how much to say and how much not to say.
I’ve experienced this on both sides: as a student in a practice when I am craving moments of silence but the teacher is talking constantly, and as a teacher when I’m concerned about how much explanation or instruction to give.
I know for sure that I’ve been guilty of talking too much and probably will be again. I tend to feel that less is more and like to consciously leave space for silence (and I don’t use music in my classes), though I still get concerned that I may be talking too much. That said, this could also be subjective as some people will want or prefer more while others will prefer less. In a group or drop-in class situation, it’s more likely that there will be mixed opinions on this.
When I trained years ago with Judith Hanson Lasater in my earlier days of teaching, one of the things I remember her saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) was that if you’re teaching a class with 10 students then you are teaching 10 different classes. As we’re all individuals, it’s inevitable that in any group there may be someone wishing the teacher would be quiet for a bit and someone else wanting more or worrying that something must be wrong if it’s quiet for (what they feel) is too long.
Nerves are one thing to watch out for if you’re teaching. If you are prone to talking a lot when you’re nervous then it’s more likely that you may come across as rambling or be imparting unnecessary information. In this instance, take a moment to check-in with yourself and remember that it is okay to pause. Yes, that’s so obvious, but when you’re in the midst of an attack of nerves, it is the obvious that can be easy to forget.
Nerves or not, if you notice that you’re not leaving any space for quiet then that’s a sign that you are talking more than is necessary.
It’s one of those things where we can never be perfect, but staying aware can guide us towards finding a balance that feels right.
Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer. Her book, Rest + Calm (Green Tree, Bloomsbury Publishing) is out now in paperback, audiobook and Kindle/eBook. Discover more at: ucanyoga.co.uk