By Leah Nagy
The difference between a mediocre yoga class and a completely transformational one starts with the instructor’s intention. By focusing on only the physical practice of the asanas, a true yoga practice is incomplete. A meditative theme that runs throughout a class is helpful in creating a sense of well-being for the body, mind, and spirit. There are all different types of themes that yoga instructors use. Some are for the type of students in the class, i.e. gentle yoga. Others are structured around a specific body part or type of pose, like backbends. Preparing the class for one difficult pose by opening those specific areas of the body first is the way of Anusara Yoga. The meditative theme is helpful in the connection between the teacher and student and ties the class together.
Where do you get ideas for a meditative class? Coming up with ideas for themes is quite simple. Just take a look around; take a look at your life. By sharing the lessons you learn with your students, they will follow you wherever you teach. First start the class with an opening “grounding” session. This allows students to tap into the present moment and to begin to notice their breath. Then discuss your theme and how it pertains to class. Throughout the class refer back to your theme, reminding the class of your intention. At the end of class, whether it is before sivasana or after, close the theme by making it come full circle.
Here is an example of a meditative yoga theme:
Sit comfortably with a tall spine. Bring your eyes to close; hands resting on your knees. Start to check into now by noticing your breath. The other day I noticed my tree in front of my house was covered in white blossoms, where yesterday there was only buds. Pear trees covered with white clouds of flowers lined the streets everywhere I went that day. How amazing that all at once, that specific day, every pear tree in the area bloomed. They did not resist the change or rush it, but welcomed it when it was time. Can we trust that the universe is in control and that what we need will be provided in its own time?
Then, throughout class, I would remind the students to stay in the present moment, to not rush through one pose to get to the next; not to resist the change their bodies are ready to receive. Closing the theme before sivasana I might tell them to enjoy the beauty of their newly blossomed flowers for the next few minutes, without anticipating the next transformation.
Leah Nagy, RYT, is a dedicated yogini who incorporates meditation throughout her yoga classes. She teaches yoga at a number of places throughout Cleveland. Yoga has become her way of life.