Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Teaching Thanksgiving in a Yoga Class: Honoring the Journey

attract more abundance
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

During the holiday season, it is an uplifting change of pace to teach Yoga classes that are focused on gratitude and thanksgiving. So often, our highly commercialized society is geared towards getting the best deal for your money. As I sit and write this article, it is Cyber Monday. I am not sure who has decided that today should be focused on getting the most for your money online, but it has almost become a national holiday in the United States! In order to counter this frantic buying ritual just after Thanksgiving, some organizations have implemented “Giving Tuesday.” 

Although “Giving Tuesday” is in many ways the non-profit sector’s spin on Cyber Monday, and of course “Black Friday,” the emphasis on giving back does help to underscore the bounty that many of us experience in our lives. As a Yoga teacher, you may feel that you are struggling to truly support yourself teaching this ancient practice to a variety of students. However, if you pause for a moment to consider all of the abundant and uplifting things in your life, your heart will begin to fill with a sense of gratitude. 

When you move through your life with an awareness of abundance and a feeling of thanksgiving in your heart, you will tend to attract more abundance in your life, whether it be an abundance of love, rewarding friendships, good health, or financial prosperity. In the same way, during the busyness of the holiday season, you have the opportunity as a certified Yoga instructor to gently remind your students of all the abundance in their lives. One way to nurture this sense of abundance is to help your students to honor their own journeys, both on and off the Yoga mat. 

So often, many of us struggle with the reality of where our bodies are on any given day. For instance, there are days when much of my own Yoga practice consists of moving in and out of Extended Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog. At times, I feel impatient with the pace of my practice and start to ignore the signals my body is giving me, so I push myself to keep up with the quick pace of an advanced Yoga class. When I do this, I can feel that I am disrespecting my body. If I continue to push too hard when I am on the mat, I invariably injure myself. 

Of course, injuring oneself does not create well being or abundance! In the same way, when you are leading a group of students through a comprehensive Yoga class, if you push them too hard or do not offer modified postures to those students who need a less strenuous practice, your students run the risk of injuring themselves. If your students injure themselves during a Yoga class, they are far less likely to return to class and may even stop practicing altogether. This, of course, does not generate abundance for either you or your students. 

A respectful way of supporting your Yoga students in their practice is to remind them to honor their own journey “on the mat” and in their lives. We all move at different paces and in different ways throughout our lives. When we respect the pace of our own practice and Yoga teaching career, we are more able to embody the virtue of thanksgiving and gratitude for our students. In this way, you will help your Yoga students to learn compassion and patience for themselves and for those around them. Compassion is one of the primary foundations for creating a life of peace, simplicity and abundant well being, from which a true feeling of thanksgiving arises. 

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:

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

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