Teaching Yoga Students About Setting an Intention

mental aspects of yoga sessionsBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

How important is it to teach your students about setting an intention? Teaching Yoga to new students can be both enormously satisfying and intimidating. At first, you may feel overwhelmed at trying to introduce the entire system of the physical postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to a group of new students, in addition to the philosophical underpinnings of this time honored practice! However, simply guiding your students through a balanced Yoga class will help your new students to become familiar with the flow and pacing of the postures and breathing exercises.

At first, many of your new students will have their hands full simply following your cues and moving in and out of the basic postures and practicing beginning pranayama exercises. Over time, you can introduce your students to the rich wisdom of Yoga philosophy. When new Yoga students begin to practice with you, they will most likely have specific reasons for taking classes with you. For some of your new students, the motivation to practice Yoga may simply be to get into better shape. Other students may be seeking a reduction in their levels of stress or to be able to sleep more soundly at night.

Regardless of the initial intention of your brand new students for taking Yoga classes with you, it is important to begin each class with setting an intention for the practice. This ancient practice of asanas, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques is ultimately aimed at helping a practitioner to sit comfortably in a deep state of meditation for an extended period of time. By facilitating a good state of physical health and a quiet mind, many Yogins found that it was much easier for them to touch deep states of Samadhi, which allowed them access to the profound beauty of the inner worlds.

Although achieving ever-deepening states of Samadhi may not be one of the initial reasons for your new students to practice Yoga with you, ultimately creating and maintaining a good state of physical health and the ability to approach life in a focused and positive state of mind, is tremendously helpful. In order to present the potential benefits of a regular practice of Yoga to your brand new students, setting an intention at the beginning of your class is important. Setting an intention will help your students to ground and become present for the practice ahead. It will also help to put the practice in the context of the deeply spiritually nourishing tradition from which it arises.

By taking a few moments at the beginning of a Yoga class for setting an intention, you will also help your students, both new and experienced alike, to take a moment to check in with themselves, in order to clarify their own personal intentions for practicing Yoga with you on that particular day. Some students may find that their underlying intention is to increase their level of flexibility or to lose those extra five pounds, while other students may be more concerned with advancing in their asana practice or staying up in Headstand for a full three minutes!

In either case, taking the time to sit quietly for a few minutes at the beginning of your Yoga class, in order to clarify and set an intention, is an important first step for both you and your students. As a certified Yoga teacher, personally setting an intention for each class or a series of classes, will help you to decide which sequence of postures to teach to your students. In addition, by clarifying your own intention for teaching a class to a specific group of students, your classes will become more focused and effective.

When you create space at the beginning of a Yoga class for your students to set an intention for their practice, you also set an example for them to follow during the course of their lives off the mat. So often, many of us spend the better part of our days responding to the over increasing insistence of our to-do lists, instead of actively deciding how we would live to invest our time and energy, in order to create a specific outcome or accomplish certain goals in our lives. By facilitating the process of pausing for a few moments before actively engaging in a Yoga class to set a specific, clear intention, you will support your students in doing the same in their daily lives off the mat.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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