Cuing in my love language. Truly. Maybe it’s the wordsmith in, or maybe it’s just my deep appreciation for yoga classes that are cued with skill- either way, I have a deep passion for cueing my own classes, as well as helping other yoga teachers improve their cues.
Of course I could just say, sign up for my 100 hour online course to improve your cues with me. But the good news is that you can also work on improving your cues with my methods totally for free.
Plus, this post will be a round up of my top 10 tips for yoga teachers to improve their cues today. Trust me when I say these tips will help to elevate you as a teacher, get more people to your classes, and improve your overall craft of teaching yoga.
How Yoga Teachers Can Improve Their Cues
- Breath, posture, cue, refinement cue method.
- Understand anatomy & alignment.
- Know modifications.
- Build muscle memory in tongue.
- Practicing speaking without doing.
- Demo less when teaching.
- Avoid using a script.
- Cater cues to students’ needs.
- Increase self practice.
- Get curious.
Intelligent cuing will really make or break a yoga class. Actually, it will make or break any movement class, really.
Whether you realize it or not, quality cues are imperative to teaching a good yoga class. The words you use are powerful. The words you use are what’s keeping your students safe while they’re in your care. This is why it’s so important to use your words wisely.
Breath, Posture, Cue, Refinement Cue Method
First things first, you’ll want to use the breath, posture, cue, refinement cue method as a baseline for improving your cueing. If you’re not sure what this is, check out this post, or check out my free yoga podcast.
This method will not only help the flow of your classes, but it will also help to provide structure to the way you speak so that you’re not rambling or scattered.
Understand Anatomy & Alignment
Next up, you’ll want to have a solid understanding of anatomy and alignment. Of course your initial 200 hour yoga teacher training should have taught you this, but sadly many YTT courses are sorely lacking in this department.
If you don’t feel that you have an adequate understanding of anatomy and alignment, then you can always search for a continued education course on these subjects. Or, choose svadhyaya (self study) to learn on your own with anatomy books all on your own.
Alongside knowing anatomy and alignment, you’ll also want to have a keen understanding of modifications in yoga. Typically, when you understand how the body works, and how the yoga poses work within the body- then you’ll be able to understand the use of modifications with ease.
Build Muscle Memory In Tongue
Now that your brain is full of all that juicy information, it’s time to get your body more involved. First, let’s build muscle memory in the tongue. Yes, that really is a thing.
Even if you’re teaching yoga in your native language, you might feel like you’re speaking another language altogether because of the verbiage you’re using. This is why it’s good to verbally practice your sequences to get your tongue used to the flow of words in your mouth.
Practice Speaking Without Doing
I like to practice my sequences while I’m walking my dogs. If you’re worried about looking crazy while talking to yourself, just put your headphones in, and people will just think you’re on the phone.
The reason I like to practice while I’m walking is that it’s important to practice your cues without actually doing the movements, so that you can get comfortable speaking without doing the poses themselves. You can also practice while you’re commuting as a great way to use the time.
Demo Less When Teaching
You know I’m an advocate for demo’ing less while teaching, for a variety of reasons. While demos can certainly be beneficial in some scenarios, overall I like to push the teachers who train with me to only use their words while they teach.
Avoid Using A Script
I know that using a script might sound comforting for new teachers, especially if you can’t lean into the ease of demo’ing while you teach. However, the more often you use a script to teach, the less creative your cues will be. Plus, we want your words to be uniquely your own, rather than someone else’s.
Sure, you can start with a “script” of sorts when you’re still in your first 200 hour YTT, or freshly graduated. But try to move away from your script as soon as possible, challenging yourself to come up with relevant cues based on what you see in your classes.
Cater Cues To Students’ Needs
The reason I’d like to steer you away from using a script when you cue is that you’re less likely to be able to cater to your students’ needs. If you’re focused on memorizing your next line, you probably won’t see what’s happening right in front of you, which is what’s actually important while teaching.
Work on using cues that are specific to what’s going on in your class in order to give your students the best experience possible.
Increase Self Practice
One of the best ways to improve your cues is to increase your self practice time. Self practice might mean you’re going to other teacher’s classes, or it might mean you’re practicing at home alone. Either way, make sure you’re taking time to practice for yourself.
I’ve found self practice to be a game changer for my cueing, because it allows me to tell my own story through my own experience of the poses- rather than relying on someone else’s words.
While you’re self practicing, get curious. I find it’s easier to get curious when you’re self practicing alone, versus in guided class- because you’re able to pause, wiggle, shake, and explore. Notice where you feel different sensations as you add subtle shifts of movements to even the most familiar shapes.
Getting curious with your exploration of yoga asana will improve your cueing, because you’re able to add your own unique perspective on the shape to your students. Plus, it helps you to feel into the pose more fully, rather than rushing in and out of them.
Let me know which tip has helped your cueing improve the most in the comments!