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Yoga Class Theme

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 Choosing a Themechakra_affirmations.jpg

  • Teachers find themes from any number of topics: yoga philosophy, spiritual principles, adapting to nature's rhythms, and other inspiration drawn from such diverse sources as yoga philosophy teachings, psychology, psychotherapy, healthcare, athletics, dance, relationships and more.
  • If you have yet to decide on a theme, you may be inspired by what you find yourself focusing on in your own life or practice. Are you finding that the practice of letting go of results is helping reduce anxious thoughts, for example?
  • Of course, a key factor in choosing a theme is one's own experience. Teaching only what we have direct experience with will keep the teaching rich and meaningful. Speaking about ideas that we haven't yet worked with and sifted through in our own life tends to sound hollow, trite or preachy.

Ideas & Inspiration to Support Theme

  • Distill the teaching down to its essence. While this is typically challenging, it's important to summarize the concept concisely.
  • Just as important as being able to be concise is being steeped in the topic to such a degree to be able to explain it comfortably, authentically and expansively, as appropriate. Understanding, experience and study of the topic is, of course, fundamental to teaching it.
  • For additional ideas or to support your theme, a primary source of guidance is yoga philosophical texts and interpretations.
  • Members and non-members who are signed up for our weekly newsletters get timely class planning support, including seasonal yoga and themes related to holidays, observances and moon cycles.

Expanding Outward from a Theme

  • concentric_circles.jpegSpend some time orienting your own practice around the topic and noting ideas of how to support students in their practice.
  • Consider elements that support the theme in the beginning, middle, and end of class. Avoid the classic mistake of introducing a concept in the opening and then forgetting about it.
  • Review or write out ideas of how a topic such as nonviolence, contentment or the energy body can be applied in class. (Members, see Making it Relevant and Talking Points under each Philosophy topic to support this effort.)
  • Choose key moments in class when application of the theme can be highlighted, such as in the opening meditation, during a long-hold asana, restorative pose or other practice.
  • Choose a quote or statement that supports the theme and note a few times to intersperse it in class. For instance, if the theme is the niyama of santosha (contentment), perhaps you choose this quote by Rolf Gates (Meditations from the Mat), "Santosha is the choice to end our war with reality." After introducing the quote in class, use it to guide students during meditation and in poses that are challenging physically or mentally, for example.
  • Choose asana, sequences or any and all elements of class based on how they support the chosen theme. A tapas (zeal, austerity) practice, for example, can guide choices of, say, heat-building asana and pranayama or long hold poses.
  • Or apply a theme to an existing sequence. Svadhyaya (study), for instance, can be applied to any aspect of class in the context of the idea, "All learning, all reflection, all contact that helps you to learn more about yourself is svadhyaya." (T.K.V. Desikachar, The Heart of Yoga, © 1995, p 102)
  • Members, see Class Elements to note other tools for consideration. Use your Center (both your intention and organizing principle) to select tools that ripple outward into an expanding circle of support.