Recently, I was invited by my yoga instructor to serve as a demo student for a teacher training she was conducting at her studio. The class was called “The Art of Assisting” and was exactly that, eight or so yoga teacher trainees learning the Baptiste Yoga Assisting Methodology.
Having never served as a demo student or been through a yoga teacher training, I had no idea what to expect. Did I have some sort of “job”? Would there be role-playing (God, I hoped not)? What would the practice be like? The answer was, in this particular case, “just show up and do some yoga.” Fortunately, I am really good at showing up to do yoga.
What I learned in this experience is that as a demo student, you do have a responsibility. You are there to create an authentic yoga class experience for the yoga teacher trainees. However, it is important to keep in mind that the yoga teacher you are receiving instruction from is learning and likely feeling uncertain or tentative about the instruction they are providing.
That means you should be nice; bring your most open, inquisitive, and happy self to your demo student practice. They have actually signed up to touch your sweaty body. So help the trainees get the most out of their training experience by being relaxed and communicative while they are giving you personal instruction, adjustments, or assistance.
What is great about being a demo student:
1) Being assisted feels amazing and helps you go deeper in poses. Prepare to be assisted or adjusted and touched way more than you are accustomed to in the regular course of your studio practice.
2) Serving as a demo student is a fun way to give back to your yoga program and studio.
3) It’s an opportunity to passively learn more about alignment in your practice.
4) Demo students get a view into the teacher training process. If you have been considering enrolling in a yoga teacher training program, do a bit of demoing first to determine if it is something you could commit to.
What is slightly less great about being a demo student:
1) Having yoga trainees walking through the class adjusting at random is distracting and can take you out of the flow of your practice. And once again, prepare to be assisted or adjusted and touched way more than you are accustomed to in the regular course of your studio practice.
2) The trainees are just learning so you may have some awkward moments.
3) You may get a bad assist because they haven’t learned to anticipate your practice. Be sure to communicate with the yoga trainee.
Yoga teacher trainees need real-life yogis to practice on just like residents in medical training need real-life patients to practice on.
If you are interested in serving as a demo student, make sure your yoga community knows how to contact you with those opportunties. And, have fun!