Have you learned about effective themes for summer Yoga classes? In many Yoga teacher training programs, you will learn about organizing your classes around specific themes. This concept encapsulates the idea of constructing a sequence, or krama, or Yoga postures, pranayama techniques and meditation instructions around a specific theme or goal. This theme may be the successful practice of a pinnacle posture, such as Crow Pose or Handstand. Or the chosen theme may be centered on a process, such as physical detoxification or calming an overactive mind.
Organizing the sequence of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to support your students’ overall health and well being during each season of the year, is also a wonderful way to engage your students in a creative and seasonally effective class. During the warmer summer months, centering your Yoga classes around the practice of calming breathing exercises and cooling forward bends will help your students to decompress from the heat, as the practice calms and balances their nervous system.
Additionally, offering calming and cooling Yoga classes to your students during the summertime will help them to take a momentary break from the high intensity of activities, which many of us engage in during the warmer months. Of course, it is important for your students to feel like they completed a balanced exercise class when they are practicing Yoga with you, so guiding your students through a comprehensive series of Sun Salutations, balancing postures, backbends, and inversions, before flowing into a series of seated forward folds, is important. In this way, they will feel both strong and relaxed at the end of your class.
In order to further effectively theme a cooling class during the summer months, you may want to incorporate some restorative and supported postures into your class. Supported Forward Fold and Supported Balasana are two deeply relaxing poses that allow the body and mind to rest, relax and cool down in a very nourishing fashion. These postures are usually practiced as part of a finishing series of seated poses at the end of a class and just prior to Shavasana.
If you are incorporating these supported and cooling postures into your summer Yoga class, it is optimal to have bolsters available for each one of your students to use. By asking your students to place a bolster next to their mats at the beginning of class, you will be able to avoid the inevitable distraction of your students going to find bolsters in between postures. If you do not have enough bolsters for all of your students, you can also use rolled blankets. If some of your students are using rolled blankets in place of a bolster, it may take three lengthwise rolled blankets to approximate the same size as a bolster.
Another lovely touch to include when your are teaching a cooling summer Yoga class, it to gently rub your students’ necks and shoulders with rejuvenating oil during their practice of Shavasana. Some essential oils that are grounding, cooling and rejuvenating are peppermint, sandalwood and neroli oil. Neroli oil is extracted from the blossom of the bitter orange tree and is both calming and helps to lift the spirit. Peppermint oil is quite cooling and refreshing. Sandalwood oil helps to facilitate a deep state of meditative relaxation.
If you decide to offer your Yoga students a minute or two of a relaxing aromatherapy neck and shoulder massage during their practice of Shavasana, remember to approach your students gently before massaging their neck and shoulders. This will ensure that you do not scare them and cause their muscles to contract! By integrating a moment or two of a blissful neck and shoulder massage with essential oils, after guiding your students through a balanced summer Yoga practice, you will leave your students feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to continue enjoying the languid and balmy days of summer.
Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York.
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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