Sunday, January 10, 2010

Keeping Class Energized part II

Last posting I talked about how I've been trying to keep class energized as I move into the New Year (see post here).

Yogiclarebear offered these suggestions as well: I like to do themed classes every now and then. this year we did surfs up yoga (outdoors), yama-niyama yoga, heart chakra flow, freedom flow (4th of july). its fun for practitioners to see an incorporation of the physical practice into a specific theme, and it helps me deepen my knowledge as a yoga guide.

I've done one themed class that I titled "Let Your Spirit Soar" where we kept coming back to Warrior III. I can't take credit for the title: one of my students was teaching some kindergartners and as a quick break he had them stand up and do some yoga poses. One little tyke spoke up and said, "Mr B! I can do flying warrior!" and she tipped forward and said, "And let my spirit soar..." Major cuteness and a great idea for class. Though afterwards the other students did jokingly ask John not to give me anymore ideas... :)

And I also came up with one more way to keep class energized: Introductions! This one is especially good at the start of a new session. I have the front row turn around and pair up with someone in the back row, ask their name and a question, such as, what are you currently reading?, what is your favorite dessert? what is your least favorite yoga pose?

Then the pairs have to introduce each other and tell the class the answer to the question. It's better than the traditional "go around the room and introduce yourself" because it makes people interact!

Another advantage is, again at the beginning of a new session, it gives stragglers a chance to find the room and get settled without disrupting class too much.


Emma said...

thanks for blogging about this. let us all know how the feedback is from these! i'm definitely a nervous teacher about throwing new things in there, so i'd love to hear how they worked out.

Sara said...

Hi Kristin -

In my registration classes I've been doing a whole quarter of themed learning.

For example, I did the Yamas & Niyamas by reading from Deb's book ( and then incorporating the message of the chapter into the that week's practice (10 week theme). My students liked this ok.

Another theme I did was the breath. I taught one new breath technique each week for 8 weeks. My students really liked that one.

Right now I am doing "learning Sanskrit names" combined with workshopping the pose for which we just learned the Sanskrit name. I'll probably do about 8-10 weeks of this too. So far they are not too keen on this one - maybe because I started with Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog) and Plank. Wait til next week when I do Chaturanga Dandasana (4-limbed staff).

Admittedly, I wanted to learn my Sanskrit better so this is helping me out.

Thanks for the excellent posts. I like your ideas for mixing things up.


La Gitane said...


I also teach Ashtanga-based Vinyasa and I have found mini-workshops a great way to spice things up for my regular students.

One of my favourite ice-breakers is a round of Simha Kriya (lion's breath) - because after that, how can you be shy?! I also like to begin the workshops with a round of the "Om sahana vavatu" mantra which even the sceptics will join in a call-and-response session and the result is a nice bonding energy.

I think it's a great idea to throw new things in every now and then to keep your class on their toes! There are lots of poses you can throw in and still respect the Ashtanga sequencing if you look at it by type of asana: sun sals, standing poses, standing balances, utkatasana + warriors, sitting fwd bends, twists, sitting balances (navasana), arm balances, etc. My teacher's greatest caution though is not to get too caught up in throwing in too many "new" poses at one time - he recommends that if you add a new pose or two you stick with your new sequence for about 3 months (assuming people are coming once or twice a week) so people can feel like they are progressing.

Sounds like you are doing an amazing job!

yogiclarebear said...

introductions is a great idea! *files for usage*