As a yoga student, you have experienced the impact that your teacher’s verbal instruction has on your practice. As a teacher, you have had the opportunity to evaluate your verbal cues and figure out what works for you in the yoga room.
Teaching yoga is like being a public speaker, except that your audience is moving their bodies as you speak. However, the same rules apply if you want to come across as a strong, competent, and impactful yoga teacher as if you were standing at a podium running for office.
So how do you improve your presence as a yoga teacher by adding variety and expression into your vocals?
Vocal Control and Power
Vocal control and power are some are the hardest skills to master as a yoga teacher. Over time, you will discover what works best for you. Try to focus on a few specific areas to enhance variety and become more dynamic in your verbal instruction.
The world renowned Toastmaster’s organization cites the 4 P’s of vocal variety, and they are as follows:
This refers to your vocal range. A low pitch is a deeper vocal and can convey more intensity and strength. A low pitch is also used for a softer, more soothing voice. A high pitch is more typical of extreme excitement and can sound louder or shrill.
For yoga instruction in the studio, it’s best to maintain a lower pitch. Try deepening your voice to drive force and motivation in flows and intense postures, and to smooth out your vocals during yin/relaxation.
After you perfect your pitch, turn to power to vary your intensity. Power refers to volume and emphasis. Volume should be a little louder to emphasize intensity, like to motivate for a power vinyasa flow or core exercises, softer for seated/supine stretches and Savasana.
Avoid using additional volume to increase your intensity. Keep your volume steady, but change your emphasis and articulation. Put a stronger emphasis on things like HOLD and LIFT UP make your voice firm and sharp – think staccato.
Every part of class requires a working mentality and intensity, but they should differ in overall energy and dynamic. Your pace creates that differentiation.
Speak with a little more urgency when you want to convey a sprint-like energy. Slow it down with a more even and steady pace in something that is longer and requires more endurance.
In public speaking, pause refers to the art of where to insert a short or a long pause for dramatic effect. In yoga, think about where a pause in your speaking can be more impactful than words.
I like to pause after taking my class through their Sun Salutation A workup, and allow the class to the remainder on their own with a longer silence. After you give a great cue, pause. Let your words soak in while the music and movement do the motivating. You can pause your vocal without pausing your presence.
This is the final P to consider and is the most important thing you can convey in the way you speak and interact with clients in your class. Use passion to enforce your PRANA!
Infuse your own love of the practice into every class you teach - your clients will feel far more motivated and excited to be there with you!