Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Teaching Thanksgiving in a Yoga Class: Intention

setting an intention forego training
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

The traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving is just around the corner. At this time of the year, most Americans celebrate the bounty in their lives. This holiday began during the harvest season several hundred years ago, when the pilgrims celebrated the bounty of their harvest with each other and with the Native Americans who taught them how to farm the land. As many of you probably know, there are also many levels of injustice perpetrated upon the Native Americans, even though the holiday still maintains its traditional sense of gratitude and fullness. 

When you are teaching a Yoga class during the Thanksgiving holiday season, illuminating and bringing fresh life into the virtues of gratitude, perseverance and hope, will help to elevate your students' practice to new levels. One of the first steps to teaching an empowering and inspiring Yoga class, which is based on honoring the virtues of gratitude and giving, is to clearly defined for yourself your underlying intention for teaching a particular class. One of the first steps to clarifying your own intention is to take a few minutes to quietly sink into the deep wisdom of your own heart, so that you can embody the virtues that you would like to teach to your students. 

The practice of connecting with the wisdom of your own mind, heart and spirit may feel a little bit time-consuming at first. However, over the ensuing weeks and months, you will most likely find that clarifying your own goals and intentions for the Yoga classes that you are teaching, will help you to give the practice more depth and meaning for your students. Although many students begin practicing Yoga in order to get into better shape or lose a few extra pounds, after some time on the mat, most students realize that the practice offers more profound benefits than simply a trimmer waistline or six-pack abs!

A regular, committed practice of Yoga postures, contemplative techniques and pranayama exercises, will help to provide your students with long-term happiness, health and well-being. A balanced Yoga practice, including breathing exercises and meditation techniques, will also help your students to develop strength of mind. By creatively sequencing your Yoga classes to work in tandem with the seasonal aspects of the year, you will further support your students in deepening their understanding and awareness of the delicate interplay between the cycles of nature and our own inner landscape. 

As a certified Yoga teacher, you have a regular opportunity to truly impact your students in a positive manner. As you begin to creatively sequence your Yoga classes, in order to emphasize and nourish seasonally relevant virtues, you may need to clarify your own teaching motivations from time to time. During the Thanksgiving holiday season, it is quite appropriate to help your Yoga students to become more aware of the great abundance in their own lives. The first step to imbuing your Yoga classes with the wisdom of a virtue such as gratitude is to clearly and vividly connects with your own intention for teaching a specific class. 

Do be aware that when you teach Yoga class based on gratitude and thanksgiving, a number of your students may feel that they don't quite have the level of abundance they would like to have in their lives. However, by bringing your students' awareness to the abundance that they do have, they will most likely begin to appreciate the great abundance around them; from their uninterrupted access to clean drinking water to having a beautiful Yoga studio in which to practice; and of course, by learning the art of this ancient practice from a creative and effective teacher, such as yourself!  

Ultimately, a well-rounded practice of Yoga can bring both you and your students into a vibrant state of well being and promote deep inner happiness. As you probably know, life often throws many of us curve balls that we are not anticipating. Because of the constantly changing experiences of life, always being happy may not feel that realistic for many of us. However, a well-rounded practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and contemplative techniques, will help both you and your students to achieve a deeper level of peace, ease of mind, physical health, and a steady optimistic mental outlook, which is fueled by an abiding sense of thanksgiving. 

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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1 comment:

parvezbdjsr said...

A well-rounded yoga practices help both teacher and the students to achieve a deeper level of peace, ease of mind, physical health, and a steady optimistic mental outlook, which is fueled by an abiding sense of thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing this valuable article.