Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Courage and Teaching Yoga: Creative Themes

pinnacle pose
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

If you are a Yoga teacher, there are many subtle nuances during the course of teaching a class when embodying courage is necessary. The very first step in your teaching career, of course, was actually signing up to become a certified Yoga instructor. When you first began to contemplate becoming a certified teacher, you probably bumped up some against internal resistance and perhaps even some physical limitations during the course of your Yoga teacher-training program. 

However, if you are a fully certified Yoga teacher, you have clearly surmounted these initial obstacles to becoming a certified instructor. In the same way, when you are sequencing your classes, there are many different levels and subtle shadings of courage, integrity and safety issues that must be adequately addressed, in order to offer your students a challenging, invigorating, restorative, and healing Yoga practice. 

If you have been teaching Yoga classes for some time now, you may start to feel that your classes are becoming a bit routine. When your own classes begin to bore you, you can bet that some of your students are also bored with the same pattern and sequencing of postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques!  In order to breathe fresh life into your classes, implementing some creative themes will help to create a sense of newness and vibrancy into the practice. There are many different ways to implement creative themes into your classes. 

Structuring your Yoga classes around internal creative themes can be a very effective and interesting way to lead a group of students through a comprehensive practice. At other times, you may find that creating a sequence of postures and breathing exercises that complements the current season is a wonderfully engaging and therapeutic way to structure your Yoga classes. Many teachers also find that structuring a sequence of asanas, which naturally culminates in the practice of a pinnacle posture, is one of the most effective and seamless ways of generating new energy and enthusiasm for the practice. 

* Creative Internal Themes

A very creative and engaging way to structure your Yoga classes is to use different emotional states as end points for the practice. In other words, the simple theme of happiness could inform your choice of asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques, which you include in your Yoga class. A class that is organized in such a way to promote feelings of lightness, buoyancy and optimism, will often include a series of detoxifying Sun Salutations and heart-opening, back bending postures. In addition, ending your class with a brief period of meditation focused on gratitude, self-love or forgiveness, will help to augment the uplifting effects of the heart- expanding Yoga postures that you have chosen for your class. 

* Creative External Themes

A very simple and creative way to sequence your Yoga classes is to offer your students seasonal variations to many of the classical vinyasa series. By tethering your classes to the seasons, you will be helping your students to maintain their physical and emotional balance throughout the course of the year. For example, during the heat of the summer, you may find that the most appropriate way to structure your classes is with an emphasis on supported back bending postures and cooling forward bends. By emphasizing restorative, cooling poses in your classes during the hot summer months, your students will feel refreshed and replenished at the end of their practice. 

* Choosing a Creative Pinnacle Pose as a Class Theme

Another way to implement a creative theme in your Yoga class, is to choose an appropriately challenging posture to work towards during the class. The pinnacle pose around which you anchor and theme your class will depend on the ability level of the students in your class. It is optimal to choose a Yoga posture that is manageable, yet still strenuous enough to offer a substantial challenge to most of your students. 

Some well-loved pinnacle postures that many Yoga teachers use to creatively theme their classes are Upward Facing Bow, Headstand and Crow Pose. Organizing your classes around an appropriately challenging pinnacle pose will create a clearly defined benchmark, by which your students can evaluate their practice. When your students are able to competently perform the pinnacle pose that you have chosen, their sense of accomplishment will create new energy and enthusiasm for practice of Yoga as a whole.

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 specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

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

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parvezbdjsr said...

Structuring Yoga classes around internal creative themes can be a very effective and interesting way to lead a group of students through a comprehensive practice. Thank you very much Dr. Paul Jerard for posting this type of useful article.

Mary Wilson said...

Implementing some creative themes will help to create a sense of newness and vibrancy into the practice. Thanks for this good posting!