How to Create the Ultimate Yoga Class Theme

Using a simple grammatical concept I learned in eighth grade has helped many people, including yoga instructors, tell stories that engage their students. As teachers, we want to write classes to invoke a feeling. We try to write and cue from that place to take others there with us.

When we create class themes, we use the format IEE:

  1. Idea (= theme)
  2. Example (= common life example students can connect with)
  3. Explanation (= why it matters)

A perfect example of this was when I took a class from Bernie Clark in Vancouver. His class theme was about the idea of really experiencing the yoga practice, and he used this example:

"Think of an orange. It has a taste I can't explain to you. I can say it kind of tastes like an apple, and have you try an apple. I can say it kind of tastes like a grapefruit, and have you try a grapefruit. I can explain everything, do everything. Except experience it for you."

Bernie then went on to explain that we must fully experience the yoga practice rather than passively take class and just follow directions of the teacher. We must dive deep into our bodies to experience all the beautiful themes the teacher is handing us.

So as a teacher, we can create an extraordinary theme, but if we ourselves are not teaching and coming from that space of the theme, and actively cuing our students to go there, then the theme is wasted. Bernie does an incredible job of resonating the theme he is using.

Take Students Deep

Another teacher who takes students on a journey each and every class is Elena Brower. I've been studying with Elena for a long time, and she has this incredible ability to get students so deep into themselves. Obviously she has [opened to grace]/article/5-poses-heal-emotional-pain-and-calm-mind) in every vein of her body.

Be Reverent

Elena treats every single moment as a divine moment in her classes. It's as though every moment she is being born again, and it's so important to use exactly the right words!

Drop Wisdom

Elena likes to drop wisdom when people are relaxed, responsive and expansive. When does this happen? After a really intense posture, when students are resting. (Example: child's pose, specifically after backbends.) That is when students are most receptive. They've moved out of the amygdala, or the fear-stress-emotion-based area of the brain.

When we fully relax, we begin to connect into the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we visualize a better future, create goals, organize ideas; where our highest self resides. It's where we begin to tap into the highest vision of what our reality could be, and even take the mental steps toward it.

Hold Space

Lastly, Elena holds space while teaching. She is expansive in all of her movements, plus she takes her time to really truly breathe into herself and her students in between postures. It's a reset for students, and it's incredible.

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