Thematic Teaching

Do you remember the first time you were on your yoga mat and made the connection between the physical asana practice and the theme or focus your instructor offered? Those “ah ha” moments are game changers! Instead of relying solely on the physical asana practice, theming integrates your student’s mind, body and spirit in a moving meditation. Their yoga mat is transformed into a training ground for interpreting sensations and emotions and prepares oneself to respond to all life’s adventures.

A yoga class is a co-created experience. It’s not about your yoga practice and what you can accomplish on your mat; it’s about their practice and how we hold space to support their journey. Creating a sacred place to share the gift of yoga with others is a blessing. We have a duty to our students to pre-plan and construct our sequences to support their growth and positively impact their journey.

As a yoga instructor, we don’t just call out poses and cues. We are storytellers.

Thematic sequencing is a form of storytelling. First, start with an idea or topic. Write everything you already know and what you want to know. Invite in questions that allow you to explore opposing views. Finally, reflect on why it’s important.

Just like a writer outlines their story, yoga instructors must also intelligently sequence their class. Authors rely upon plot, setting, character, and theme to create their stories. As instructors, we can use the same tools:

  • The plot is your sequence
  • Setting is your practice space
  • Characters are your students
  • Theme is your focal point

What is a theme?

  • Themes are the muscle of the sequence
  • A central idea or topic
  • A focal point; either simple or complex
  • Assists in the development of a sacred space
  • Offers a particular setting or ambience
  • Creates a holistic and integrated construction for your class

What the purpose of theming?

The motivation or purpose of a theme is to positively impact your students’ practice. Many times, themes will arise naturally throughout your normal day to day activities. Other times, you may need to do a little digging. Themes can emerge through different facets of your life both on and off your mat. Carry a journal and reflect upon your journeys.

Themes can originate from:

  • An event
  • Reflection on an idea
  • Demonstration of knowledge
  • Summary of information
  • Explanation of a thought
  • Persuasion
  • Theories that seek to explain an issue
  • Entertainment
  • Powerful quotes

Adaptability

In order to impact change, you must recognize and fully accept your students as they are and where they are on their mat that day. Some themes are universal, while others are more specific to different audiences.

So, get to know your audience:

  • Spend quality time before or after class
  • Ask questions about their life off the mat
  • Understand which themes fit their needs best
  • Develop methods to present your theme

How to integrate your theme

To better understand how to integrate a theme throughout your sequence, answer the following questions:

  • How will your theme become apparent?
  • What asanas will support my theme?
  • Are there specific repeating ideas?
  • Where can I highlight?
  • What areas allow space for reflection and silence?
  • Are there any contrasting elements?

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. A strong theme that’s sprinkled throughout your sequence, enables students to connect with the deeper meaning and intention behind it.

  • Introduce your theme in the beginning during arrival
  • Find impactful spaces for silence and reflection
  • Intermix questions when delivering your theme that give your students the opportunity to explore what it means to them.

Offering a theme is an integral element of teaching yoga. Although theming is optional, it does offers a spotlight to support and strengthen your student’s practice. Theming doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming. Your simply presenting an idea! Allow yourself to embrace vulnerability and geniuinely offer up a theme that will leave your students a little bit better than when they first unrolled their mats.

Adrienne started practicing yoga when she was working in the corporate world. She traveled constantly and always looked for ways to keep healthy and active while on the road. After completing her RYT-200 Power Yoga Teacher Training she was hooked! She completed her RCYT-95 as well as her RYT-500 Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. A mother of two girls, Adrienne has dedicated her time to deepening her practice and connecting with her students (especially families & kids!) on ways to allow their yoga experience to ripple into all aspects of their lives. Throughout Adrienne’s trainings, her passion has led her to co-found FamilyFlow Yoga®️. FamilyFlow Yoga®️is one of four accredited schools in Illinois to offer a 95 Hour Registered Yoga Alliance Children’s Yoga Teacher Training program. Adrienne teaches in yoga studios, fitness clubs, boutique studios, as well as in school and after school yoga programs. FamilyFlow Yoga®️ has become an expert in offering continuing education programs and workshop for yoga instructors as well as schools’ staff and administrations. She's committed to helping people reach their full potential both physically, mentally and emotionally.

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