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Lost in Translation: Tips for Teaching Yoga to Nonnative English Speakers

Teaching to nonnative English speakers is challenging, but these tips will help you make sure your teaching transcends all language and cultural barriers.

By Sara Avant Stover

2. "Learn about their country and customs to make your presentation more relevant and alive. Become highly visual. Drop any agenda. Make the students feel at ease. Remember that less is more."—Jonas Westring

3. "Good demonstrations are essential. Point to the actions, or main teachings, of the demo so that people know what you are asking of them. Go to a few yoga classes in a language you don't speak to feel what it's like for yourself. Always come from the heart. When we express ourselves with love and compassion, people are more receptive."—Patrick Creelman

4. "Avoid using slang or colloquialisms. Use gestures or movements whenever possible. Draw or write on a board and use photos or books. Look directly at the group; reading lips and facial gestures helps them understand. Keep smiling; it is a universal passport!"—Nischala Joy Devi

Sara Avant Stover is a yoga instructor and writer who lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She teaches internationally in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Visit her website at

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