“Yoga… that’s just stretching and relaxation.”
Does it bug you too when you hear this prejudice? It annoys me even more when it often comes from people who have never tried yoga and just blurt out their false impression without restraint. Because those of us who have discovered the practice for ourselves know: Yoga is far from being just stretching and relaxation.
It’s important to note that stretching and relaxation are both part of a balanced yoga practice and every yoga class. Of course, doing sun salutations quickly can make you sweat. They may even leave you with sore muscles the next day. Yet, yoga is so much more than “just” a sports program.
As a yoga fan, this will be clear to you. However, if you’re fresh out of yoga teacher training, you may not be quite sure how to design your classes to be different from the athletic approach you take at the gym.
Here are three tips to add depth to your yoga classes.
Choose a theme for your yoga class
There are no limits to your imagination here – anything can be a theme! Both physical and psychological aspects, spiritual and Ayurvedic themes, as well as things you’ve read or experienced that are on your mind. Sometimes an inspiring quote is enough, which you can choose as a motto for your lesson.
Examples can be: Yoga for a healthy back, yoga for stress and tension, yoga with teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Ayurvedic yoga suitable for the season, or yoga for more resilience in everyday life.
Just the fact that there is a theme gives your class some significance. Share the theme with the group in the “Dharma Talk” at the beginning of class, revisiting it in between and noting, for example, how a particular exercise fits in.
Clearly emphasize the benefits
Yoga is good for you – but how exactly? Always explain briefly and clearly how an exercise works or why one follows the other. For example, explain how the child’s pose is a nice balancing exercise for backbends. Also feel free to explain, if it makes sense, the energetic effect of an asana.
People who come to a yoga class usually want to do something good for themselves, not only physically, but also mentally. By occasionally weaving in how asanas or pranayamas work, you give your participants the good feeling of doing something meaningful for themselves.
Make it suitable for everyday life
Some people come to a yoga class with doubts in mind. They have heard about the benefits and want to benefit, but don’t really trust it yet; or they have been “dragged along” by a yoga fan from their circle. Among the most common doubts or prejudices is the assumption that such an old practice is no longer up-to-date at all, or that it is totally out of touch spiritually. Convince your yogis and yoginis otherwise! How?
– Ask yourself in which situations yoga has already helped you and how – and then share it! In this way, you give the exercises a meaningful, comprehensible reference and make yourself even more authentic and approachable as a teacher.
– Some of your exercises can also be done in the office, on the train or in bed? Draw attention to this! This shows that yoga is suitable for almost all situations.
– If appropriate, make a reference to current world events; for example, refer to “grounding in uncertain times” or “strengthening the immune system during flu season.” This makes it effortlessly clear that yoga is definitely timeless.
Just the repeated reference to the breath, as well as tracing and reflecting after certain exercises, is what differentiates a good yoga class from a fitness session. But with these three tips, you can make your classes even more meaningful and enriching.
Still have additions? Share them with me in the comments!