To theme or not to theme…
During the last weekend of our teacher training course at Brisbane Yoga Space (BYS) the question was asked as to the importance of theming a class. It’s an interesting one as for these new teachers, they have enough on their plate with remembering the sequence, alignment cues and breath instruction without also asking them to thread a theme but…and the but for me is the answer I gave. Personally I find classes without themes dull and uninspiring. Simple as that. They feel like they are simply exercise and sometimes that’s ok if I just want to move my body. But when I want to practice yoga, I want the package – the asana, the breath, the philosophy and some teacher wisdom.
My personal style of theming reflects my love of the myths of ancient India, the stories of the Gods and Goddesses that inspired so much of what we know as yoga today. They are colourful, vibrant, hilarious, disastrous and beautiful all at once. Within the layers of the myths are teachings and lessons. When we read and study them the layers of meaning unfold like a lotus flower in the morning. I love them. I use them to theme my classes in the way I was taught by my teachers at the amazing Laughing Lotus school of yoga in San Francisco but I also use them to reflect on my own life and how I personally use the lessons and teachings both on and off the mat.
Other teachers use the ancient wisdom from the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavhad Gita to theme their classes, some will use the 8 limbs, the yamas or the niyamas, the chakras, or focus on something simple such as contentment or non-violence, others will use whatever is happening in that moment, the change of season, a pose the class is working on that needs some courage or whatever else springs to mind as they drive to class.
It’s all good. In fact it’s great. It’s why I fell in love with yoga. Not just because the shapes I made on the mat made me stronger and more flexible, not just because the breath practice calmed my ever chattering brain but because within the ever unfolding lotus of yoga come these amazing teachings, and every teacher interprets them a little differently and when they share this insight in the classroom the mat is no longer a rectangle piece of material where I bust some moves but a safe space in which I can experience life lessons and gain wisdom on how to deal with them. And the beauty of this is I get to take them with me as I head off the mat and into the day.