At some point during your yoga teaching journey, you might have the following thought: ‘there must be more to teaching than “right foot forward, Warrior I’… and you’d be right! Your next question should be: how to theme a yoga class?
What to do?
Theming can be a great way to give a little something extra to your students in the way off philosophy, energetics, anatomy, or whatever topic sparks your enthusiasm as a teacher.
How to theme a yoga class
Theming a yoga class is like telling a good story. There must be a clear beginning, a clear end, and a clear narrative thread throughout that clearly links your theme to your students’ embodied experience. For instance, if your theme is ‘anahata chakra’ it makes no sense to emphasize hip openers, although it does make sense to emphasize backbends. Thus, a theme can be powerful when you put your idea directly into your students’ bodies, but it can be confusing if what you say contradicts what you’re asking them to do.
Theming a class can be quite a challenge as, on top of the usual concerns (like remembering the sequence, offering modifications and extensions, making sure everyone is safe etc) you now have to remember the story and associated dialogue! Although it may be tempting to drop the theme when the going gets tough, don’t! If you start with a theme you must stick with it. Changing your mind half way through will be confusing for your students.
It is also important to choose when, during your class, is most appropriate to talk about your theme. Hint: it’s not when students are in a peak pose! You know from your own experience as a student that when you’re feeling challenged you don’t have enough left over energy to attend to things that aren’t directly related to the pose itself. Therefore, wait until the quiet space after a peak pose when students are relaxed and receptive to what you have to say.
Finally, make sure your theme is relevant to your students. Your theme will have most impact if you can clearly communicate the benefit of your theme. How are their lives enhanced by learning about anahata chakra, or hip stability, or ahimsa, or [insert your theme here]? Yoga is of most benefit when we can take it off that mat so think about how your students might explore the theme, not just in their mat practice, but their life practice too.
Shades of Yoga is a yoga teacher training company running year-round yoga teacher training courses in Bali and Costa Rica.