283: Teach Yoga Without Demos with Francesca Cervero

Do you demonstrate yoga asanas when you teach? Do you wish you could do fewer demos in a class but don’t know how? How can we start doing that in our classes? Francesca Cervero explains how she teaches yoga without demos and how other yoga teachers can too.

Francesca Cervero has been teaching yoga full-time since 2005. Inspired by her foundational training at OM Yoga Center, the years she spent as a dancer, and subsequently in physical therapy, Francesca’s teaching is also influenced by her love of Buddhist teachings and a constant curiosity about anatomy and biomechanics. Francesca offers private 1:1 yoga classes, mentors yoga teachers in The Science of the Private Lesson, hosts the podcast The Mentor Sessions: Support & Strategy for Yoga Teachers, and is the founder of the adjoining community, The Mentor Sessions Sangha.

Francesca explains the benefits of teaching without demos and how we can start to teach without doing demos in yoga classes. She shares her tips like sitting on your hands while teaching and how to cue effectively as well as how to ease the transition if you currently rely on demos to teach. Francesca also shares how she counters pushback like “people are visual learners” and what to do when accessibility is a factor and we need to share demos.

Key Takeaways:

[2:13] Shannon shares a podcast she is learning from.

[6:13] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Francesca Cervero.

“It’s obviously not sustainable to need to constantly use our body to share information about movement.” ~ Francesca Cervero

[10:05] Shannon gives a shout-out to our sponsor, OfferingTree.

[12:48] What does Francesca do and who does she do it for?

[14:18] What does Francesca do in terms of demonstrations vs no demonstrations as she is teaching?

“The only way to gain the skills to teach without demonstrating is to practice them.” ~ Francesca Cervero

[16:43] What are some of the benefits of not doing demos?

[19:58] You might feel inclined to demonstrate because you’re feeling nervous. Francesca addresses this and shares some tips that can help.

[25:16] The only way to gain the skills to teach without demonstrating is to practice them.

“I prefer teaching with my words because I think it places the emphasis for the student more on what they’re experiencing as opposed to what their body looks like.” ~ Francesca Cervero

[27:29] Recording yourself teaching with just your voice can be a helpful technique to get better at teaching without demonstrating.

[30:40] How does Francesca deal with that awkward moment when people in the class are waiting to see a demonstration because that’s what they’ve become used to?

[36:15] Teaching without demonstrating isn’t black-and-white. The key is to focus on the student and what cues might help them.

[40:14] Shannon and Francesca discuss the difference between teaching yoga and doing yoga for your own practice.

“When we exclusively use our body to share information about movement, I think that it puts the emphasis or the focus on the aesthetic of the shape rather than the experience or the potential benefit, which will look radically different person to person.” ~ Francesca Cervero

[41:26] What can yoga teachers do when they’re teaching online and their students want to have their video off?

[49:02] Find out more about Francesca and how to work with her via her podcast, mentor sessions, and her community.

[49:34] Francesca addresses two scenarios that yoga teachers may have questions about – teaching beginners without demos and teaching in situations with a language barrier or to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“The real heart of teaching is in relationship. If you can’t see them, then that’s not there.” ~ Francesca Cervero

[53:01] Shannon shares her biggest takeaways from this interview with Francesca.


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