If you practice yoga, you may well be aware of the various learning and teaching styles that exist. However, the primary goal of learning and teaching asana is to allow you, the practitioner, to better develop a sense of understanding within yourself.
Yoga is an all-encompassing practice. This means that you experience a fully emotional, physical, a metaphysical practice that causes you to question everything you know. Therefore, an effective class is one that takes into account not only the needs of every individual but can be easily understood by everyone. Incorporating all the learning styles into the class presentation.
The 6 learning styles of yoga:
Such learners will think in images and need vivid pictures to aid in the retention of information. Teachers will give actual visual demonstrations of the postures or move through the sequence for the class before aiding the students as they go through the flow themselves.
Individuals who are verbal learners have superior auditory skills and need clear descriptions. A teacher may help these students by describing moving through an asana like, “water rushing towards the shore,” or “flowing with the breath and shooting energy through the fingers.”
Learners of this variety usually need hands-on assistance when acquiring new information or prefer to move with their body. Think “muscle memory.” Instructors can easily give kinesthetic information by moving students into the correct positioning and have them hold that asana for a time, letting the student “remember” how it feels.
Sounds, musical patterns, and cadence are all very important to the rhythmically-inclined individual. These students will excel when teachers give advice on how to move with the breath. They will also appreciate the presence of soft, melodious music that helps them move.
Verbal and nonverbal cues are important for those who rely on communication to learn. These students require a strong leadership from the teacher, as they will be all eyes, taking in everything the instructor says and does. Dynamic poses entertain interpersonal learners the best.
The exact opposite of interpersonal, these are the learners who get absorbed in thinking about their thoughts and feelings that they may seem a bit lost during class. Such students gain much more from a slow yoga practice that allows them to sink into the asana and comprehend all that is happening inside them.
How to implement your learning style in yoga class:
So how does a student know what to expect from a yoga class? How can knowing your particular learning style aid you in getting more from every single practice? It is quite simple, really.
If you are a visual learner, put yourself somewhere in the room where you will have constant visual assistance—even if that means following the more experienced yoginis and yogis around you. Should the studio have mirrors, you may benefit from checking in on your reflection’s alignment once in awhile.
Verbal learners do not have to rely on the appearance of those around them as much as other learning styles, but not being able to hear the cues will put them out of sync with the class. So always put yourself within earshot of the instructor.
Kinesthetic and rhythm learners feel much more with their bodies. For these learners, letting the teacher know that they appreciate adjustments and flows that get them moving is important.
“Yoga is not about touching your toes. It is what you learn on the way down.” ~ Jigar Gor
Bet you didn't think yoga was affected by your learning style!
Keep your personal needs in mind when entering a yoga class, because if you forget how you learn, you may falter or fall behind. Do not hesitate to let the instructor know your learning style, as they are trained to adapt the class to the students’ needs.