Yoga class planning is a lifelong journey that evolves with the ever-changing yogi. From an instructor planning to teach their hundredth class in front of a thousand people to a student doing their first home practice, all students and teachers benefit from friendly reminders and simple tips to plan a great yoga class!
So whether you're a home-practicing yogi or a new yoga teacher, try out these tips before you teach and craft your next yoga class.
1. Outline Learning Objectives
When unsure where to start, it is easy to get lost, frustrated, and tired of the process. Pausing to plan and build a framework of learning objectives creates starting points for class focus and exploration.
Scaffolding questions to ask yourself:
What is the topic/theme of the class?
Who will be my audience?
What do I want my students to learn?
What do I want my students to be able to accomplish by the end of class?
What do I hope my students will take away after practice?
2. Develop an Introduction to the Learning Objectives
Without planning, shifting from objective to action can leave students feeling lost in translation. A teacher may hope to help their students find balance in Tree Pose (Vrksasana), but without introducing the idea, the students are set up to fail.
If that teacher starts class introducing foot anatomy and weight placement in balance poses, they are setting their students up for success when it is time to practice Tree Pose. Starting class with a personal anecdote or discovery, a yoga philosophy lesson, thought-provoking question, etc. are also great ways to develop and introduce a class aim.
3. Plan an Activity or Peak Point
After developing a learning objective and introduction for the goal, create a class tailored to that aim. Spend time creating momentum towards the peak point: if Wheel Pose (Chakrasana) is the peak pose of the class, create a warm-up focused on gently stretching the shoulders and opening the heart.
Spend time with the peak point: offer variations and new ways of cueing the pose. And once achieved, take time to gently cool down from the peak point. If Wheel Pose is the peak, practice folding forward and notice the lengthening of the spine and back. Think about various ways to illustrate the topic of interest, engage students of different levels, and help people understand the concept in mind.
4. Practice the Flow
Notice what it's like to take the class off paper and onto the mat. What flows might have made sense in the mind but are not transferable to the body? Alter as needed. Check for various ways to teach, since your students may be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners, or a bit of it all.
What questions could you ask to check that the students understand the goals for the class and that students can follow your flow?
5. Continue Class After the Closing
It's game day, you went out and kicked ass-ana teaching the class. Stick around all the post-yoga glow and check in with your students. Take time to reflect on your own practice, and invite inquiry into the class. Yoga is an active process of continuous change. Being curious about how to improve a class for next time is what makes your flows transform into something magical.
It's impossible to plan and predict what each and every moment of class will be like or what energy the students will bring into the room. A great yoga class is sculpted through the process of trying and discovering more within you than you ever realized you could find.
A great yoga class is created from the students' willingness to learn and the students' and teacher's combined process of creating a class. Do you have any great yoga class or tips for creating one? please share in the comments section below!