It’s a new week, a new yoga class to plan, maybe a yoga workshop or course you are designing.
You’re sitting on your mat, in front of you awaits . . . THE BLANK PAGE
and in a few hours time await . . . YOUR STUDENTS
What’s the plan – what are you teaching this week?
I’ve been teaching for over 9 years now and yes I still ALWAYS plan my yoga classes. I want to share inspiring, heartfelt themes with well-constructed yoga sequences that are poetry for the body, mind and soul – NO PRESSURE HEY?
So how do you get inspired? How do you come up with yoga class themes, design beautiful yoga flows that are adaptable and accessible to all your students? There are MANY ways, but here are a few ideas you can draw on when you’re feeling less than inspired
1. MUSIC: For me, music is the easiest way to tap into my creativity. I roll out my mat and put on some new music. I find myself a still posture (seated, standing, or reclining) close my eyes, connect to my breath and open my whole body to ‘HEARING’ the music. I allow the music to lead my movement; I follow the sounds wherever they take me. It’s not dancing, it’s different to a kitchen boogie, I stay on my yoga mat and explore yoga related movements. I keep a piece of paper nearby and something always emerges. Maybe just a little repeating arm movement, a new transition or sometimes a whole sequence. I love SPOTIFY for this.
Top Tip: If you have a premium Spotify account every Monday Spotify creates you your own bespoke playlist based on the things you like and listen to. It’s called Discover Weekly!
2. A PROP: As a Vinyasa Yoga Teacher I don’t always use props but when I do I like to get some bang for my buck! If I want to use a specific prop for a certain pose, say a strap for a reclining hamstring stretch, I then think how else I could incorporate this prop in the rest of my class to either make poses more accessible or teach an alignment cue or muscular activation.
Top Tip: Explore the use of props in your own yoga practise, even in poses where you wouldn’t usually ‘need’ a prop! It’s so tempting to Google ‘yoga poses with straps’ but try and make your own practice your first point of reference rather than Google.
3. Change The Mat Layout: This one messes with my head! And my students but it’s a great way to shift things up. If you usually teach with your students’ mats in the ‘portrait’ orientation for say the Sun Salutations from the top of the mat. Try for 1 week turning the mats to ‘landscape’ and designing a whole flow facing the long edge. Or put the mats into a circle and design flows that travel around the mat in a Mandala.
4. Nature, The Universe & Her Cycles: The world around us is full of inspiration and affects how we feel on so many levels. Lean into this first in your personal practice, and share it with your students when you feel you can speak from personal experience. A few suggestions:
~ The Lunar Cycle: Grounding Full Moon classes with Chandra Namaskar or energising and uplifting classes on the New Moon. You can find my Full Moon Guided Meditation here.
~ Summer Solstice / Winter Solstice: Acknowledge these moments of peak light and maximum darkness with classes that align with the energy. A fiery heart opening flow with lots of Sun Salutations in midsummer or a slow comforting restorative flow for mid-winter.
~ Change of Seasons into Spring / Autumn: The season shifts are hard on the immune system as we see an increase in coughs and cold. Build a serious of classes around this time that boost your student’s immune system with twists and inversions.
~ TCM & Meridian Line: Learn a little about Traditional Chinese Medicine & the organs that come into focus during the different seasons. Design yoga flows that stimulate the meridian line of each season’s organs.
Top Tip: Check out the book ‘Seasonal Yoga’ by Sue Woodd & Julie Hanson
5. Words / Images: Intention cards, oracle cards, poems, postcards, quotes, a newspaper article can all become great muses. Find your seat on your mat, connect to your breath and bring to mind or look at your chosen muse. Breath into your heart space and ask ‘how does this speak to me?’, ‘how does it make me feel’, ‘what is the message I’m drawn to share from this?’. Then free write, journal, scribble down words, doodle, stickyogis, just keep your pen moving. Then after a few moments, sit back, take a breath and see what recurring thought is on the page. How does this thought make you feel? What yoga poses, meditations, pranayamas help you access or work through that feeling? How you can design a whole class based around this feeling or sentiment?
Top Tip: I’m currently loving the Intention Cards from Iris Hill
5. YOU: Be your own muse! As they say, ‘teach what you need to learn’. Yesterday I sat on my mat, feeling tired and uninspired. I asked myself, ‘If I was to attend a yoga class today what would I be hoping for? What do I need from my Yoga today’. The answer was, I’m tired but for no reason, I wish to be gently coaxed from my legarthy and my shoulders/neck feel tight – they could do with some TLC. I proceeded to give myself what I needed in my personal yoga practise and then wrote it down as the class for this week. I shared with my students where the inspiration had come from and they all, I’m mean seriously 100% of them, felt the same. Yes, we are all unique but you know what invariably we tend to be feeling or going through relatable life stuff!
Top Tip: Trust yourself, ask what do I need today? How can I serve my students today? Listen to the answer and plan accordingly!
LEARN MORE: If you’d like to get really inspired, I’m teaching an 8 Hour CPD Day on the Art & Science of Sequencing on Sunday 21st July 2019 at Chilworth Village Hall, Southampton. Email for more information firstname.lastname@example.org.