Teaching Yin | The Art of Verbal Cueing

Titles for Website (15)
Nancy Nelson

Silence is truly golden. We live in a very busy society and our days are filled to the brim with words. Statistics show that stated the average American speaks 15-16K words each day. This means it’s culturally unnatural for us to be quiet and it’s a deep struggle to not feel the need to fill silence with words. Read this article for more on the importance of silence.

The silence you can offer your students on the mat might be the most powerful gift you have to offer them. Don’t take this opportunity for granted! Though it feels awkward for us to be quiet while we “teach”, practitioners learn to find the freedom that is available to them through that silence. Plus, it will be difficult for students to experience the energetic and emotional releases of yin if they are too busy trying to listen to us. Trust the yoga to do its own work and practice quieting your mind as well. Let your students have their own experience. Your role is to provide space and guidance for them to do so.

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.”

Yehuda Berg

The Struggle of the Instructor

Yin is one of the most challenging styles of yoga to instruct because of the ample space and time available

If you’re used to teaching more dynamic classes that require more instruction, teaching yin will be a challenge to teach at first. But it’s worth it and will change how you lead faster paced classes for the better.

Because we’re used to speaking 15-16K words each day – it makes sense that this slowing down of our speech can feel unnatural, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wasted time or that it makes you less knowledgable as an instructor. In fact, speaking less says MORE about your expertise.

Yoga does not need words to be valuable. Much of our struggle to be silent has to do with our lack of practice being still and silent ourselves. This energy can rub off on your students! If you’re anxious – they will likely be too.

The Struggle of the Student

Acknowledge and accept that some students will be very uncomfortable with the silence and stillness of yin. It’s important we allow them space to struggle and overcome. This may take weeks or years! We cannot speed up the process of them getting comfortable with themselves. We must trust the process and speak only when we feel prompted.

The western world is not used to quiet, but deep down we all crave it. Because we are made up of both yang and yin, we desperately need time to be extrospective and time to be introspective. Sometimes it just takes time to surrender to it.

NOTE: Because much of yin is silent – when you do speak, your students are LISTENING intently!

Take a moment…Think about some of your best yin experiences as a student. How much do you remember of the instructor’s words? What stuck with you? What awareness did you create within yourself out of that experience?

Answering these questions may help you reset your perspective on this topic.

Basic Guidelines –

  • Start with the physical cues they need to get into the posture
    • Go and quietly help those who need more assistance instead of telling the whole group what one or two people need to settle in.
  • Allow some silence for the body to settle into the pose
  • After about a minute or so in the pose, consider speaking to the energetic / mental / emotional sensations that might experience
  • Guide them back to the breath and intention every couple of poses
  • At minimum, aim for 70% of the pose to be silent (or just the music in the background)

Dive deeper and take the webinar! OR join me for the weekend virtual yoga teacher training of all things yin March 19-20. Click the image below for details!

Titles for Website (15)

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for the article. I feel how much people love to chat. At the same time, they are very uncomfortable in silence. Maybe I’m strange that I like to be silent.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Titles for Website (38)
Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

Currently listening to...

You might also enjoy...

Take a yin class!

$15 / month unlimited access
%d bloggers like this: