Teach from “Do” not “Don’t”

by admin on August 11, 2011



The other day, I was teaching a yoga class and I found that I kept teaching from “don’t.” I would say something like, “Don’t straighten your leg” or  “don’t let your knee go past your heel;” things to that effect. I heard myself and thought, “What’s gotten into me today?”

Teaching from “don’t” is like looking at the glass as half-full. Teaching from “don’t” sounds negative. Teaching from “don’t” is the easy way out. Teaching from “don’t” makes students feel like they’re being reprimanded, not inspired.

Here are some easy ways to translate a “don’t” into a “do”:

Instead of “Don’t let your knee go past your ankle.” (as in Warrior 1) try: “Feel the stability of your knee joint stacked over your ankle.”

Instead of “Don’t let the weight of your body fall into your hands.” (as in Downward Dog) try: “Use the strength of your legs to lift you out of your hands.”

Instead of “Don’t force your legs straight. Use muscle instead.” (as in Dancer’s Pose) try: “Tighten your quadriceps on your standing leg and feel the support it gives your whole body.”

Instead of “Don’t let your eyes wander while in the pose.” Try: “Set your eyes on one spot and feel how grounding it is to let the eyes relax.”

There are more, I’m sure, but you get the point. When we teach from “don’t,” it can sound bossy and like we’re basically saying, “You’re not doing it correctly!” Yoga students in our classes want to be acknowledged for trying, thanked for showing up, inspired by the experience and supported by you as the teacher.  Convert those “don’ts” into “do’s” and be an inspiration!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Travis Roesler August 28, 2011 at 2:19 am

I completely agree about using positive speech patterns and avoiding the negatives in training. You certainly have the right idea and your trainees will appreciate the uplifting demeanor. I just wrote an article about personal training
and I’d love to know what you think about it.


admin August 28, 2011 at 4:46 am

Travis, thanks for the note. I will take a look at your article! Karen


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