When I first started teaching yoga, I would offer three options to make it an “All levels” class. It was the classic option;
“Choose to do a childs pose, a downward facing dog or a Vinyasa (plank-chaturanga-updog-down dog)” cue.
Teaching an all levels class is not easy! Teachers are remembering their sequence, their theme, observing students for safety and accessibility, assisting students and, keeping the pace of breath to name just a few things. So to add in the three choice option above is a good start for an all levels class.
If you’ve been doing that for a while, you are ready for more!
One of the many nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned from teaching Yoga teacher trainees is to know the steps of each pose from beginner to advanced. They are called “kramas” in Sanskirt or “steps”.
Every pose, no matter how simple you think it is, has a first step and then has more advanced variations.
If you’re having trouble finding the simpliest variation, go to your “edge” in your pose, now come out of it slowly, hold for 3 breaths as you come out bit by bit. You will find that many of the poses do not have to go so deep. We are a little misinformed by the photos we see on Instagram about what yoga is.
Every body is different, literally, each of us is as different as the bone structure on your face. Your body’s bone structure has its unique and beautiful variation. Therefore every body will look different in every pose!
And it’s not really about what you “look” like. It’s actually about how you FEEL!
Another little trick for creating step-by-step success for the advanced postures is to do the advanced variation of a pose on an easier plane:
For example, the advanced Half moon balancing pose is a triangle pose. So do the triangle pose first!
Another example for Handstand is standing with the arms up (hastasana pose) or a low held v-up.
Creating a true all levels class is about knowing three stages of each pose and giving the easiest one first. **Always start students on a prop first and then move off the prop if they want to take it further** That way students feel empowered step-by-step.