Thursday, November 26, 2015

Teaching Thanksgiving in a Yoga Class: Clarifying Motivation

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

In the United States, the annual holiday of Thanksgiving is here. This is the annual time of year that many of us gather with family and friends to celebrate all of the abundance in our lives. Many of us celebrate this abundance with an elaborate meal, followed by a movie marathon or watching football games for the remainder of the day. There are also a number of opportunities during the Thanksgiving season to give back to our own communities, by serving meals to the poor or raising money during various charity events. 

As a professional Yoga teacher, you have the opportunity to illuminate the deeper virtues of the various holidays that are celebrated throughout the year. During the Thanksgiving season, cultivating your students' awareness of the great abundance in their own lives will naturally fuel a sense of gratitude in their own hearts for the rich bounty around them. By teaching Yoga postures, meditation practices and breathing exercises in your classes that release tension and expand the heart chakra area, you will help your students to become more aware of the abundance in their own lives, which will cultivate a natural sense of gratitude and thanksgiving. 



In the first 10 or 15 minutes of a class, it is helpful to have your students clarify their own motivation for practicing Yoga. In order for your students to truly benefit from their practice of asanas, Yogic breathing exercises and contemplative techniques, it is quite helpful for them to clarify their motivation for talking a class with you. The students in your Yoga classes may be motivated to practice for a number of different reasons. For instance, they may be interested in improving their physical health, emotional resiliency or spiritual understanding of the mystical side of Yoga. 

When you ask your students to clarify their own motivation for practicing, you will help them to be more grounded in their practice. This process of clarification will help them to integrate the timeless wisdom of Yoga into their lives, both on and off the mat. During the holiday season, you can help your students to nurture a sense of gratitude for the abundance in their own lives, by reading a brief passage, poem or scriptural verse that focuses on the virtue of thanksgiving.

Another teaching technique for generating a sense of gratitude in the hearts and minds of your Yoga students, is to take a few moments prior to the practice of Final Relaxation Pose, in order to ask your students to bring to mind three things that they are grateful for in their own lives. They may do this silently as they sit in Easy Seat on their Yoga mats. Alternately, you can dedicate 2 to 3 minutes during the beginning or ending portion of a class, so that a few of your students share with the whole group some of the experiences, people or places that they are grateful for in their own lives. 

As your students become aware of all the good things in their own lives, they will quite naturally want to share that abundance with others in their community. This ripple effect of "paying it forward" helps to uplift all of us during the Thanksgiving holiday season and of course, throughout the entire year. By nurturing an open and grateful heart through the particular sequence of postures, pranayama exercises and contemplative practices that you teach to your students during class, you will facilitate their ease of being and peace of mind, which are a few of the most profound benefits of a regular, committed Yoga practice. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division


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2 comments:

parvezbdjsr said...

Teaching Yoga postures, meditation practices and breathing exercises in yoga classes that release tension and expand the heart chakra area, help the students to cultivate a natural sense of gratitude and thanksgiving.

Mary Wilson said...

During the Thanksgiving season, cultivating the students' awareness of the great abundance in their own lives will naturally fuel a sense of gratitude in their own hearts for the rich bounty around them. Thanks for nice posting!