Theme based classes have caught on in the last few years and take many different forms. The basic idea behind most yoga class themes is that it gives students something more to focus upon while engaging their practice. This is a great idea and I’d like to offer you one that can also be very therapeutic from life effectiveness perspective.
In Phoenix Rising our therapeutic theme based yoga experiences are fueled by these four fundamental ideas and principles:
- Yoga is great for the body but more importantly can also be an amazingly effective tool for life. It can empower me and help me live a more meaningful and authentic life and for me that’s where themes are helpful. For example, some years ago I became aware of ways in which I unconsciously might seize and opportunity without exploring the consequences. Learning more about this tendency in my life has allowed me eliminate a lot of stress that used to be there before
- Our themes focus on eight of the core processes that I have seen come to the surface time and time again in my work with clients. They are the themes which I believe are an important focus for mastering our capacity to live more meaningfully and authentically – for example – the process of Awareness, the practice of Discernment, and the art of living from one’s Truth.
- When one is engaged in yoga and able to enter a state of embodied mindfulness, our bodies will often reveal to us the kinds of awareness we need to get our life on track if we learn to listen. My neck and shoulders will often reveal my capacity for creating more freedom in my life by sharing some of the burdens I tend to shoulder alone.
- The art of teaching with a theme for the skilled educator is about “drawing out” awareness from the student as opposed to “planting” ideas, thoughts or feelings in them. For example, you could say “choose a soft and relaxing edge” or you could say instead “notice your edge and choose the one that is right for you in this moment. Notice. “
This often results in students leaving a class with some important life informing awareness which can be integrated into their lives. Over time (and sometimes more rapidly) this can turn lives in new directions.
Training to lead theme based classes with integrity and in a way that honors the unique experience of each individual in the class is an art that few teachers learn or apply. Those who master this kind of approach quickly appreciate the life enhancing and therapeutic value it offers to their students. Students also love this kind of class and many choose to incorporate it into their individual yoga practice on a daily basis and find it supports them well, particularly when undergoing periods of changing life circumstances.
Michael Lee is the Founder of Phoenix Rising, the author of several books including Turn Stress Into Bliss. He will be teaching an advanced yoga teacher training program in Bristol VT in March 2015 focusing on a thematic approach to therapeutic yoga for life empowerment.