yoga teacher developmentBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

Can you think of effective themes for Yoga sessions that are based on the seasons? Although many of us visualize the carefree days of summer, the summertime can also be filled with long “to-do” lists, as many of us plan assiduously to fit in all of the activities we had planned to do, during these supposed “lazy days.” The same is true of many of the seasons during the year. For instance, during the fall many Yogis and Yoginis rush to fit in that final trip to the wilderness or to the ocean. In a similar fashion, the holiday season, as festive as it is, is also often a time of heightened stress, because of all the extra gatherings with family and friends.

So, regardless of the season, teaching Yoga classes that facilitate deep rest and relaxation will provide much needed stress relief to your students. As your experience teaching Yoga classes begins to deepen and mature, incorporating effective themes, which address the fluctuating needs of your students, will help to create a meaningful context for their practice. Choosing a variety of themes that match a particular season or the needs of a specific group of Yoga students, will also give you a firm organizing concept around which to create an effective sequence of asanas, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

When the weather is warm, it is quite relaxing to emphasize cooling Yoga postures, such as forward bends and supported inversions, in order to offset the heat of the season. In the winter, creating a warming sequence of Yoga postures, pranayama exercises and relaxation techniques to offer to your students will ideally include some active vinyasa sequences to fully heat up the body, as well as seated forward folds and supported supine poses, which are deeply nourishing, calming and relaxing. In the same way, by tailoring your Yoga classes to meet the needs of your students appropriately and effectively during the fall and spring months, you will be offering your students a practice that is both energizing and replenishing.

Many students begin to attend Yoga classes in order to get into better shape, lose weight or simply to relax. The absolute necessity of being able to let go, drop the concerns of the day and truly relax eludes many of us, most of the time! It can be quite difficult to simply unplug from our daily concerns and rest in internal quietude. Teaching a series of Yoga postures, calming pranayama exercises and time-tested relaxation techniques in your classes will support your students in truly being able to rest in the quiet inner spaces of their own being.

A wonderful way to effectively use the teaching theme of stress relief around which to organize a Yoga class, is to initially lead your students through a balanced flow of active standing and balancing postures, which then seamlessly leads into a more soothing, Yin-centered practice towards the latter half of your class. Teaching a series of warming standing and balancing postures at the beginning of your class, such as the Sun Salutations, Triangle Pose, Side Angle Pose, Eagle Pose, and Crow Pose, will leave your students feeling energized and “like they got a good workout.” Halfway through your class, you can begin to cool down the practice, by leading your students through some slower-paced, Yin Yoga postures.

Yin Yoga postures are usually held for three to five minutes, instead of the traditional three to five breaths during a more fast-paced Ashtanga flow. For instance, Malasana, or Yogic Squat, can be practiced in a stress-relieving, Yin-style by asking your students to place their hands in a clasped position at the base of their skull, as they allow the gentle pull of gravity to elongate the delicate muscles in the back of the neck. The inward focus of this pose also helps the mind to begin to slow down and turn inward. Malasana is one of many Yoga postures that can be practiced in a more restorative Yin-style fashion, in order to facilitate the deep release of tension and stress, in both body and mind.

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 works as a writer and an academic support specialist. 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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