Class Elements

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, we review the many yoga tools available for creating comprehensive class plans.

Objective

Learn to consider a multitude of yoga techniques to create comprehensive class plans.

Description

List a number of tools and practices and explain how this list can support teaching and preparation. Provide examples of practices and tools that may tend to be overlooked in less authentic or comprehensive yoga teaching.

Introduction

In this lesson, we review the many yoga tools available to bring about effective and sustained transformation.

  • Seeing all of the tools and practices in one place can help inspire your creativity.
  • You might use this as inspiration for a written or mental checklist during planning to make sure you are considering all the techniques at your disposal. (Or see the Class Builder for a structured inquiry process.)
  • Rather than relying on thinking about particular techniques in the moment, your checklist and planning can help you choose and teach more targeted practices.
  • For example, a list like this might remind you to plan breath practices to support your intention. Maybe you decide to teach at least two different techniques during various parts of class to support the energy of that segment. That then prompts you to choose a practice to extend the exhalation during the opening, and then later in class, teach Viloma Pranayama and finally, Nadi Shodhana before the closing meditation.
  • Maybe you’ll be reminded of the oft-overlooked practice of pratyahara, or be inspired to create a plan using props or to incorporate a mudra.
  • Or, perhaps reviewing the class elements will prompt you to choose a mantra, phrase, or object of meditation that can be carried through class.
  • There are endless options, of course, and we hope this section helps inspire you to explore them!

Asana & Related Tools

Asana & Sequences

  • Build to a peak pose.
  • Use a connecting vinyasa or bring students back to a consistent neutralizing pose to “pause and feel.”

Props

NOT FOR COMFORT BUT FOR CLARITY

Indeed, there are times when a cushy bolster, a stack of blankets or a well-placed foam block hastens us off to yoga heaven. In other cases, such as height under your shoulders in shoulderstand, the props are there for safety… But most often, Iyengar yoga uses props for clarity, not comfort. Sometimes it’s the clarity provided by correct alignment. Sometimes a prop makes things clear by providing resistance to work against. – Eve Johnson

  • Blocks, Blankets, Straps, Wall, Balls, Eye Pillows, Other – Consider any tools at your disposal for adapting poses to different conditions, encouraging specific actions of a pose & supporting restorative postures

Partnering

  • Give students an opportunity to feel support, connection, fun, variety and/or deepening of a pose.

Touch or Hands-On Adjustments

  • Assist to make the pose safer, such as aligning sacrum in Parsvottanasana.
  • Assist to communicate information such as the flow of energy from fingertips in Virabhadrasana II .
  • Assist to guide a deepening such as increasing hip crease & arm reach in Exalted Warrior.
  • Provide touch to release tension or convey support such as a foot or head massage in Savasana.

Mudras

  • Teach hand or whole body mudras.
  • Mudras

Pranayama & Breathing Practices

Basic Breath Training

  • Provide instruction for such fundamentals as breathing through the nose and allowing torso to move.
  • Explain signs of reverse breathing and chest breathing and the consequences of such practices.
  • Use tools and cues to bring students’ awareness to the breath during a particular inquiry time such as in opening centering and/or throughout class.
  • Teach such gentle practices as three-part breath or gently extending the length of the breath to help awaken and maintain awareness.
  • Associate movement of any part of body with an inhale or exhale.

Pranayama Techniques

  • Teach seated or supine pranayama.
  • Offer practices during asana such as Kapalabhati while in Navasana or Viloma Pranayama with pause in a flowing posture such as flowing Bridge. Pranayama & The Breath Hub

Meditation & Related Tools

Pratyahara & Meditation

Visualization

Sound

Mantra & Chant

  • Bhakti Yogis throughout the world and in your own community are excellent resources for many devotional practices including kirtan.

Choosing Silence or Music

Philosophy & Themes

Philosophy

  • Philosophy teachings are often in the form of readings but could also be included in hand-outs, self-inquiry, meditations or workshops.

Themes & Readings

  • Offer poetry or inspirational readings that capture the imagination, inspire, offer insight, humor, beauty or insight.

More Class Elements

Ritual, Sacred Space, Smudging

  • Consistent Openings and/or Closings – Choose options such as chanting Om, lighting and snuffing a candle, or other practices to mark the opening and close of practice.
  • Using Symbols – Consider the effects of such practices as using Namaste for greetings, placing mats or other items in a circle, and other symbolic gestures,
  • Ceremonial Smudging and/or Cleansing Rituals – Consider mindful use of herbs and intention to help create sacred space and deepen the experience.

Scent

  • Aromatherapy

Class Elements by Kosha

It’s challenging and perhaps even mis-guided to try and assign each class element as targeting only one kosha, or layer of self. But we hope our attempt will help you consider if you’ve got a mix of elements to affect a student’s whole being.

Annamaya Kosha – Physical Body

  • Asana*
  • Hands-On
  • Props

Pranamaya Kosha – Energetic Body

  • Breath Awareness
  • Mudra
  • Pranayama

Manomaya Kosha – Mental / Emotional Body

  • Mantra
  • Partnering*
  • Readings
  • Visualization

Vijnanamaya Kosha – Wisdom Body

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness

Anandamaya Kosha – Bliss Body

  • Chant
  • Ritual
  • Sound

Notes

For the purpose here, we’ve made the assumption that asana affects primarily the Annamaya Kosha and that it is the addition of breath awareness with asana that affects the Pranamaya Kosha.

For partnering, we’re reasoning that beyond the physical experience, students are having a social and emotional experience when working with others that affects their Manomaya Kosha.