Thursday, February 04, 2016

Appropriate Pacing in a Yoga Class

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

What is appropriate pacing in a Yoga class? As the pace of life continues to gain momentum, nurturing a harmonious state of inner balance and external ease becomes more and more paramount. Although many of our technological gadgets and appliances are geared towards completing a variety of tasks in a fraction of the time that they used to take, quite frequently our gadgets propel many of us to anxiously multi-task, in order to accomplish more and more items on our to-do list each day. Unfortunately, when we rush to complete so many tasks in one day, many us end up living in a chronic, pervasive state of anxiety most of the time.

As a certified Yoga teacher, you have the opportunity to help your students to nurture a state of internal balance and equipoise while they are in class, which will help them to identify areas of their lives off the mat where they may be perpetuating a cycle of disharmony and anxiety. One of the easiest and most fundamental ways of nurturing a state of harmony in your Yoga classes is to teach your students a balanced sequence of postures, pranayama exercises and relaxation techniques that is specifically tailored to the group of students you are instructing.

Examples of Pacing in a Yoga Class

For example, if you were teaching a group of beginning Yoga students who are new to the practice, setting a slower pace of foundational postures, breathing exercises and simple meditation techniques would be appropriate. On the other hand, if you are teaching a group of intermediate or advanced Yoga students, setting a more vigorous pace for your class would provide more advanced students a challenging workout, without sacrificing student safety. Please keep in mind that not only is the overall pace of your classes important, guiding your students through a balanced array of standing Yoga postures, backbends, seated poses, and inversions is also important.

For instance, if your classes emphasize many standing postures without the balancing effect of seated poses, your students will not experience the same degree of physical and mental well being that a well-rounded practice offers. If you spend too much time on practicing vigorous standing Yoga postures, and you do not leave enough time to ground the practice by guiding your students through a series of seated, cooling and grounding forward folds, your students may feel amped up after your class and a bit agitated, instead of calmly energized and replenished. In the same way, by allowing ample time for your students to rest in Final Relaxation Pose for 5 to 10 minutes at the end of class, you will create time for their bodies to cool down in correct alignment, and you will also allow them to replenish their energy for the day or evening ahead.

When you are creating different sequences to teach to your Yoga students, you may also want to take into account the time of year when you are teaching your classes. In other words, during the winter months you may want to teach more vigorous, warming Yoga classes that are focused on increasing strength, energy and metabolism. On the other hand, during the summertime, you may find that it is most effective and enjoyable to teach Yoga classes that help to cool and ground your students during the hot summer months.

Another important element of creatively sequencing a Yoga class so that a state of harmony is nurtured is to “bookend” your classes, by taking a few minutes to set the intention to create harmony and balance, both internally and externally at the beginning of your class. In addition, by setting aside a time period of 3 to 5 minutes at the end of class for your students to reflect on a passage, poem or scriptural reading that underscores the value and essence of harmony, they will begin to connect with the deeper, beneficial effects of a regular Yoga practice.   

If you look at teaching and practicing Yoga through a metaphorical lens, you will see that the way your students practice the asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques, mirrors their approach towards life. When you set aside time at the beginning of your Yoga classes to set an intention to nurture harmonious, healing states of being, your students are likely to take this practice off the mat into their daily lives. The practice of setting an intention will offer your students the ability to pause for a moment or two before engaging in a conversation or a daily task, in order to consciously choose to move through their lives in such a way that they are promoting their own highest good and uplifting the hearts of those around them.

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 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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1 comment:

parvezbdjsr said...

Should keep in mind that not only is the overall pace of the classes important, guiding students through a balanced array of standing Yoga postures, back-bends, seated poses, and inversions is also important. Thank you for posting this valuable article.