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!