There are many ways to create a yoga class teaching plan, but make sure to have a proper mix of familiar asanas and new work to make each session productive and invigorating.
Planning vs. "Feeling It"
Some instructors like to build sessions around particular themes, such as hip opening asanas or Ayurvedic principles. Each session or week will have detailed sequences and music to match, and some structures may have set components each time. For many instructors, having a roadmap to follow may allow for more time to one-on-one guidance, additional education between postures, and provide a routine for participants so they can evaluate their personal progress.
However, each instructor has an individual style. Making a yoga class teaching plan isn't for everyone. Some teachers prefer to rely on the energy of the class in that moment, or the universe, and other intuitive means by which to direct the session. These instructors won't come in with a handy binder and pre-ordained music; they'll literally go with the flow.
There isn't a right or wrong method, as long as you are true to your teachings and dedicate attention to your students.
Core Components of a Yoga Class Teaching Plan
There are a number of ways to develop a yoga class teaching plan. However, many of the components are similar. A common structure includes:
- An opening, usually a visualization or breathing exercise.
- A warm-up series, which often sets the intention of asana practice by awakening the parts of the body involved in the core sequence.
- Core sequence, which is when you'll put into motion a series of standing and sitting postures reflective of either your session plan or your interpretation of the energy of the members.
- Relaxation, often savasana, or Corpse Pose, but some instructors also include a few minutes of guided meditation in the closing.
How long you dedicate to each component depends on your session time. Typically, in an hour-long class, you'll dedicate five minutes to the open, 10 minutes to the warm-up, 40 minutes to your core program, and five minutes for the closing. If your class runs 90 minutes, you may still want to keep your core program between 40-50 minutes, depending on the intensity, but then factor in extra time in the open and close for deeper breathing exercises.
Ideas for a Yoga Class
Try a few of these ideas and create a session:
- Around the time of day. In the morning, develop a class around energy-boosting poses, such as the Sun Salutation sequence and the Warrior series. In the evening, try a relaxing and restorative session, with postures that release tension, such as Pigeon Pose, Forward Bends, and Spinal Twists.
- Focusing on a particular body part. Popular segments might include a hip-opening series, building back strength, and opening the chest.
- Involving a theme. Create a session that focuses on balancing postures. Choose poses related to expanding or improving a chakra. Introduce a new posture, but build the flow around the areas of the body that support a natural transition into the new pose. Explore pranayama and integrate different breathing techniques into a sequence. These are just some of the many themes you can try.
- Expanding personal options. For a beginners' class, help members move on to the next level by demonstrating the intermediate stages of each common posture. This will help them practice collectively and maintain a sense of comfort while still advancing their individual practice.
Also, ask your class what else they're interested in learning. They might surprise you with some of their suggestions, inspiring you to review your teachings and explore something different.
Resources That May Help
If you'd like more guidance for constructing a yoga class teaching plan, try these resources:
- YogaClassPlan.com is a relatively new site that allows you to enter the sequence of positions for the class, keep detailed notes on students' reactions, and easily refer back to key lesson plans. Site members can also access 150 yoga class plans. Site fees are charged by month or by year.
- Inner Idea features six free yoga class plans that both instructors and students can use. Each plan features a physical theme and a practice principle, and can serve as a foundation for creating plans in the future.