This is the 4th part of an ongoing series that explores the different kinds of language a teacher uses to shape their classes. In this segment, we look at invitational language when teaching yoga.
Invitational language is a subset of subjective language. Subjective language asks the student to self reflect (or observe themselves) from a neutral perspective. “Be aware of how you are breathing” as a simple example. Invitational Language invites students to become aware of their particular needs and gives them free will to act upon them.
Both subjective and invitational instructions ask students to reflect on their experience and sense of self. This awareness teaches people to be less reactive and more empowered.
This awareness teaches people to be less reactive and more empowered.
Invitational Language is often used in “trauma sensitive” yoga classes. It has been proven to be effective for people for whom agency over their lives was forcefully taken; such as a car accident, combat, or growing up in an abusive household.
In many ways, “Invitational Language” is the antithesis of Directive Language, which emphasizes specific alignment cues and implies a “right way” to do the pose. Invitational Language, freely presents possible variations and encourages students to make choices for themselves.
There are many different ways to best communicate with students, depending upon one’s ability as a teacher and the needs of the students. And there is an optimal place to use invitational language when teaching yoga. Gradually, a yoga student becomes a seasoned teacher, and learn when to use the appropriate style of language to best meet the needs of students. (You can find out more about our yoga teacher training here).
Examples of Invitational Language:
- “If you feel like it……”
- “When you are ready.”
- “If you want to…”
- “I invite you to try and _________”
- “As an alternative, you can bend your knees”
- “You don’t have to do any of these postures, you have free will”
- Give people the option to participate or not