By: Virginia Iversen M.Ed.
The holiday season is replete with many different festive celebrations, including Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. If you are currently teaching Yoga classes during this busy season of the year, you probably have noticed that many of your students are feeling quite stressed out about all of the personal errands they need to accomplish, before the annual holiday celebrations begin. Although this time of year can be quite exuberant and uplifting, it can also add to your students’ stress levels because of the additional responsibilities they may have to manage, including giving gift, preparing holiday meals and attending various social engagements.
By offering Holiday Yoga Classes that are geared towards relieving stress, you will support your students in maintaining a state of clarity and equipoise amidst all of the activity. There are a number of ways to creatively sequence your Yoga classes, so that the stress relieving benefits of this ancient practice are enhanced. For example, you may want to include calming and soothing breathing exercises into your classes. You may also want to teach a slower-paced vinyasa class, than you would normally teach to a multilevel group of students. Another effective way to increase the stress relieving benefits of your Yoga classes is to include a dedicated period of meditation into the practice, either at the beginning of class or at the end of class.
If you set aside a dedicated period of 5 to 10 minutes during your Yoga classes to guide your students through a meditation practice that is focused on creating internal spaciousness, the stress relieving benefits of the practice will be substantially increased. When your students experience the internal spaciousness of their own beings, their minds will begin to quiet and their levels of stress and tension will naturally begin to dissolve. Ultimately, the simple act of knowing how to withdraw their senses from the external world and rest their minds on the internal spaciousness within will serve them in their lives, both on and off the Yoga mat.
Meditation on Spaciousness
This meditation practice that is geared towards creating a sense of internal spaciousness, is most effectively practiced after engaging in a balanced series of Yoga postures and breathing exercises. The physical postures of Yoga help to release stress and tension, which is frequently held in the large muscle groups in the body. By guiding your students through a comprehensive practice of asanas and pranayama exercises, before engaging in this meditation practice on spaciousness, your students will be able too much more easily drop into a state of equipoise and simply “being,” or in Buddhist terminology, calm abiding.
When you are ready to lead your students through a meditation on spaciousness, ask them to come to a comfortable seated position on their Yoga mats. If any of your students have very tight hips and need some additional support, encourage them to place one or two folded blankets underneath them for support. You may want to begin the meditation practice by reading a brief passage from a spiritual or scriptural text, poem or uplifting contemplation. This will serve as a transition from the more physically active portion of your class, into the quiet, contemplative part of the practice.
At the beginning of any meditation practice, it is usually helpful to take a few minutes to practice a soothing pranayama exercise, such as the Relaxation Breath or Alternate Nostril Breathing. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, or Alternate Nostril Breathing, is especially helpful for balancing out the right and left hemispheres of the brain. During this busy time of the year, many of us experience dominance in the left hemisphere of the brain, where day-to-day planning is most pronounced. By practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing for 3 minutes with your Yoga students before meditating, your students will be much more able to slide seamlessly into a thoughtless state of spaciousness within the field of their own consciousness.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2015 –Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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