Empty Instructions

An empty instruction is an instruction that is not telling the student how to do what you are asking them. It can be that you are saying the result you want to see in the student but not teaching them how to get there. 


Here is an example of what I mean by empty instructions

*Keep your legs strong

*Open your shoulders


What could you say instead? First, think about where the work in the pose is or where it comes from. The purpose of the pose and what it is you want to see happening in the students. Then think about what is it that makes this happen. From where does the student need to move?


Often, we can think the students are not listening or that it is on them when they don’t understand an instruction. But I think it is always on the teacher. If what you want to see in the student is not being by the actions of the student, you have to rethink your instructions. Remember that sometimes it takes time for the student to find an action in the body or even mentally understand what you are saying.


If I see that an instruction is not working in a class, I reflect on how I can say the instruction differently, repeating the instruction. If I still do not see that my instruction is reflecting what I want, I break it down. Maybe I went too fast and needed to break down into different actions in other poses for the student to be able to translate them into the pose I was teaching. 

When you are teaching you are not only sequencing asanas but you are also sequencing your words, slowly building up vocabulary in students and teaching them about their bodies and how to move closer to themselves through your instructions.


If we come back to the examples above. How could we change the instruction and be clearer?

If we look at ”Keep your legs strong” think about what it is you want, you probably want the student to use their legs to support other parts of the body or use them to move into other areas of the body.

What helps the legs to be active? It starts with the feet, instructing the feet, and then telling them what the work is in the legs such as lifting the muscles.

Open your shoulders is even more unclear. What part is it that should open and how should it be done? What do you want to keep as they move another part? What is your intention when you say open something?

Think about the alignment of the body, what needs to be stable, and what are the things moving the part you want to move and instruct the action/work.


Can you find more empty instructions? Comment below and let us see if we can find a different way to say them.

Hope this will bring you some help in your future teaching.