188: Effective Yoga Cues with Libby Hinsley

Something that almost every yoga teacher has to do when leading a class is given cues to guide our students in the movements, breath practices and meditations. These cues can be both visual and verbal, and either online or in person. But how effective are our cues, and what are the cues that are really not helpful for our students? Libby Hinsley sheds some light on how to cue effectively in a yoga class.

Libby Hinsley is a licensed Physical Therapist and a Certified Yoga Therapist who currently runs a private PT practice which integrates Yoga and Manual Therapy. Libby is also passionate about educating yoga teachers about anatomy and is developing a new project called Anatomy Bites! with Mado Hesselink under the umbrella of Yoga Teacher Resource. Through this platform, Libby aims to give yoga teachers clarity, guidance and support for learning anatomy in a monthly membership format.

Giving yoga cues effectively really comes down to thinking about the intention behind our cues. Libby explains how understanding the reason for each movement and the intended effect can help you give the right cues. Shannon and Libby also discuss cueing for safety, the importance of cueing for beginners or those who are new to yoga, and how anatomy can inform your cueing. Libby shares her insights about “right and wrong” in cueing, and what can happen when you use cues that you do not understand.

If you’ve ever struggled with how to give your students cues in class, or have cued something that produced a completely different effect and want to know how to avoid that in the future, this episode is for you.

Key Takeaways:

[6:05] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Libby Hinsley.

[7:48] What does Libby do and who does she do it for?

[9:21] What excites Libby about talking about cueing for yoga teachers?

“A lot of people are just stuck in a habitual, verbal cue pattern and they don’t actually have an understanding about what is underneath that cue.” ~ Libby Hinsley

[13:01] The assumption in giving cues is often that this is the cue to ensure students’ safety. Libby unpacks this assumption and how it translates into the cues we give.

“It’s really, really important that we understand why we’re saying the things that we say, especially when they’re more prescriptive.” ~ Libby Hinsley

[15:19] A common cue in a yoga class is not letting the knee go past the ankle. Libby explains why that’s not necessarily a cue for safety.

“We’re not really trying to get everything in a certain correct way, we’re trying to get it correct for our particular body.” ~ Libby Hinsley

[18:29] Libby shares why she prefers movement to static postures and how that helps to build strength in different parts of the body.

[20:29] Shannon and Libby discuss tree pose and the positioning of the foot in relation to the knee.

[21:35] Libby brings up the cueing of the shoulders that may not necessarily be useful in ensuring safety.

[24:10] How should we cue the shoulders when moving into poses? Libby explains how understanding anatomy can help address underlying issues that may be present.

[27:15] How helpful is it to understand different conditions that may be present (e.g. kyphosis or lordosis) as yoga teachers and where do we draw the line in suggesting things that may be helpful vs. giving a diagnosis?

[31:56] Shannon and Libby explore why yoga teachers need to release the pressure on themselves to know everything in every other discipline related to yoga.

[35:05] What are some cues Libby wishes didn’t exist?

[36:13] For new practitioners of yoga, they need some guidance about what shape they should be in, and cues can be a good starting point for that. However, we should not throw out the freedom to have some exploration of different approaches.

[38:48] Libby highlights some of the things to take note of when cueing shoulder position.

[41:44] Using simple cues and saying less (not over-cueing) is better!

“Cues that are most effective are very, very simple.” ~ Libby Hinsley

[44:21] What are some helpful things to think about when planning cueing for new teachers?

[48:38] Libby shares one of the cues she likes to use, particularly in response to the question “where am I supposed to feel this?”.

[50:37] Libby has a second download about safety – be sure to get it from the links below.

[51:02] What is Anatomy Bites?

[52:38] Libby leaves us with some final thoughts and advice about cueing.

“Yoga wants us to know ourselves, so that we can be our best selves.” ~ Libby Hinsley

[53:59] Shannon and Libby discuss safety and frailty in yoga.

[55:05] What are the cues you love and which have not served you well? Join the conversation!


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