How to Theme Your Yoga Class
Effectively theming your yoga class is one of the most valuable tools you can have as a yoga teacher. As an experienced yogi, you already know the value of living out your practice on and off your mat. For beginner yogis, a good theme assists in bridging the gap for your students as well. If you’re looking for new yoga themes, you’ve come to the right place!
Looking back on some of your favorite yoga classes, I can almost guarantee you remember a theme that was beautifully woven into the sequence, rather than the sequence itself. As a yoga teacher, we often become fixated on perfecting a sequence of postures. Yet, landing the theme is just as important to keep our students coming back to their mats. When you learn to theme with intention, your students will connect back to themselves and will be reminded of the universal connection they have to each other and the world.
Step 1: Theme Selection
Selecting authentic yoga themes that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about is one of the most important steps. If your theme is not authentic to you, it will not resonate as well with your students.
Here’s an easy exercise to help you create an authentic class theme. Take out your phone or your journal and start a list answering this question: How has your life changed since the first night of your Teacher Training?
The words that come to my mind are openness, vulnerability, life change, awareness, acceptance.
Now that you have made your list – you have five authentic themes for your next classes. This reflection process can serve as a tool for developing new, relevant, authentic themes.
Step 2: Using Your Theme In Class
When weaving your theme throughout the class, it’s important not to give too much away in the beginning, or you may run short on content by the end of class. Think of introducing your theme like a story title or hashtag. This should be one word or a few words that encompass the entire story you are trying to convey. If my overarching theme were “trust yourself to make the right decision on your mat so that you can build your trust muscle and learn to trust yourself in your life as well,” my short phrase would be trust yourself. I recommend bringing your students to samastihi before Sun Salutation A to set your intention together and seal your intention with a communal breath. This brings together a sense of community.
Throughout the class, you can revisit your theme via deepening cues and dialogue in between postures. For example, if we were using the aforementioned theme, in eagle pose, you could use the deepening cue, “Lean your shoulders back over your hips like there’s a wall behind you. You might feel like you will fall, but if you trust yourself, you’ll stay up.” Another option would be to let them do Sun Salutation A on their own and ask them to move from their intuition and trust themselves. Get creative, and listen to your intuition too – there is no right or wrong way to interweave your theme.
Step 3: Landing your theme – Bringing it all together
Although you can interweave your theme with cues, you still need to bring it all together by allowing your students to experience the theme through their lens to make it uniquely their own. You can do this by going more in-depth about your theme, and giving a personal share. I like to expand on my theme while they are in longer holding postures such as pigeon or supine twist. This might seem like you’re making the theme about you, but after you share the lesson that the theme brought you, you can bring it back to them. It is in these moments that you can invite them to think about the theme and how it applies in their own life. You might prompt them and say, “I invite you to ask yourself where you can trust yourself more in your own life?” It’s your job to show up with a universal theme; it’s their job to take what they need from it.
At the end of class, I like to circle my theme back once more, so they have something to think about on their journey home. After you say “namaste” to your students, you can give one more personal share to show them that you, too, are human. When we leave the yoga room, I ask my students to share what they’ve discovered on their mat with me at the end of class.
I hope this article gave you some helpful tools for finding authentic yoga themes and theming your next class. Like everything in life, theming takes practice. My three last pieces of advice as I leave you on your teaching journey are
1. Give yourself the time and space to prepare your next theme.
2. Be gentle with yourself. Practice will make you better at theming. If your next theme doesn’t sound exactly how you planned it, it’s okay.
3. Don’t feel too much pressure for your students to identify with your theme.
It’s your job to deliver the lessons and yoga themes that are true and authentic to you. It’s your student’s job to take what they need and carry it with them.
If you’re interested in joining Indra Yoga Institute for a 300 hr training, you can find more information HERE.
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