Yoga Teachers: Eye Contact?

by Tomasz Goetel

Completely ignore any advice which tells you to avoid direct eye contact with your yoga students when teaching class.

When it comes to speaking to a person or group, whether in a yoga class, workshop, teacher training, seminar, or simply conversation with friends over lunch, a good eye contact signals that the communicator is:

  • skilled
  • caring
  • trustworthy
  • committed

Within the reality of the Western culture, if I am speaking to you without looking at you, it suggests dishonesty. If I am shifting my eye gaze from person to person quickly, if I am spraying the group with my eye gaze, or if I am not looking at anyone at all—people may feel ignored, left out, unimportant, or even feel as if they’re being cheated. When I am leading my yoga class, I am looking at the person, or the persons, who I am speaking to.

How to make eye contact when teaching a group class? This will depend on the size of the group.

In a session of less than 25 students, it should be quite easy to make eye contact with one student at a time, without leaving anyone out over the course of the class.

If your regular classes have over 25 students, it may be a good idea to speak left/center/right. You would be either looking at a person directly for each side, or you’d want to appear to be looking at one person at a time.

Your ability to keep the eye contact depends on:

  • Having internalized the instructions and flow of the class (Competence!)
  • Lack of nervousness
  • Concentration
  • Practice

Once those factors are in place, you would incorporate eye contact as a natural addition to your good vocal and physical delivery.

The point is not only in communicating more effectively and hooking your students attention—when you give good eye contact while teaching, you yourself feel wonderful. It will make you smile.

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