Shiva is one of the primary male deities in Hinduism. He is frequently depicted as a reclusive, Yogic monk who spends his time practicing a wide variety of different spiritual austerities. He is one of three main gods, known in Hinduism as the Trimurti. Brahman and Vishnu are the other two Hindu male deities who are referred to by this honorific title. Shiva exemplifies both the embodied and the formless divine male energy. Although Shiva is usually seen sitting on a tiger skin in Lotus Pose, he is also frequently depicted in his dancing form.
In a Yoga class, there is generally a warm-up portion of the class, a more active portion and a series of finishing postures aimed at helping students to cool down, relax and restore their vital energy. An intuitive and effective krama, or sequencing of Yoga asanas, is a skill that is learned and perfected over time. Of course, if you are teaching a Yoga class to a multi-level group of students, structuring the class so that it is both challenging and accessible to all of your students is no easy task.
However, with experience as a Yoga teacher, you will be more able to fluidly choose which asanas to guide your students through and which Yoga poses to leave out of a particular class. As you choose a sequence of Yoga asanas to present to your students, it is important to keep in mind the physical abilities of your students, any special modifications that your students may need, the time of day, and even the time of year. A Yoga class that is skillfully sequenced will take all of these factors into account.
For instance, if it is a cold, rainy Friday evening, your students may resonate more deeply with a class that is focused on hip openers and restorative asanas, in order to release any physical and mental tension that has accumulated during the week and to replenish their vital life force energy through restorative Yoga poses. This dance-like rhythm of warming up the body, heightened activity, and then rest, reflects the dance of Shiva. Through his divine dance, or Tandava, Shiva is continually creating and dissolving all of creation. It is a ceaseless, unified flow.
In the same way, using a sensitive and appropriate krama of asanas will assist your students in making steady progress in their Yoga practice. One method of designing an effective sequence of Yoga poses is to choose a pinnacle pose to work towards. A pinnacle pose is an asana that is usually the most challenging for the students in a given class. In terms of harnessing Shiva’s energy of creation, working towards a pinnacle pose increases the energy and flow of the class until the pose is practiced. Some examples of favorite pinnacle poses around which to structure the sequence of a Yoga class are Handstand, Crow Pose, Upward Facing Bow, and Hanumanasana. All of these poses are challenging and require most students to warm-up well before attempting to practice the postures.
A pinnacle pose reflects the height of Shiva’s creative energy. Holding the posture metaphorically reflects Shiva’s ability to sustain his creation. A brief reading of a scriptural passage about Shiva’s creative energy may be a graceful way to weave some of the traditional Yogic teachings into your class. Do remember to choose a pinnacle pose that is safe and accessible to the group of students whom you are instructing. After practicing the pinnacle pose you have chosen, it is recommended to slowly guide your students into a state of rest and relaxation through a series of seated forward folding poses and Shavasana.
© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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