Warming up for a Yoga Class
Yoga Tips for Teachers
In part 1 of the series, How to Teach a Fantastic Yoga Class, I explained that there are typically three sections to a Yoga Class. These I called, Orientation, Warm-up and the Work. In part 1 I also went over the orientation section and discussed what items one should cover in that section. In part 2 here I will cover the Warm-up section, which when well put together, goes a long way in helping make the class a terrific experience for the students.
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Section 2: Warm-up
Don’t ever underestimate the importance of the warm-up phase. Also, don’t underestimate the benefits it bestows. A well planned warm-up, will not just help the students get the most out of the set you are planning to teach, but in and of itself will cover many areas that should be worked on a daily basis. These two points are what I take into account whenever I am designing the warm-up phase. In addition, you should also start a class by helping the students tune in to their Higher Self and the Universal Mind, to get protection, guidance and inspiration.
Here are the objectives you should shoot for with the warm-up section:
1. Tune in to your Higher Self / Universal Mind.
2. Get the students energy going.
3. Cover the must do everyday yoga stretches and exercises if possible.
4. Prepare the student’s body for the final yoga set, so they can get maximum benefit from it.
1: Tuning In
Always start a class with tuning in. Yoga is not just a physical science. It is a spiritual science and without spirit, you may as well be doing aerobics or something. In yoga, whether you have been explained it or not, you are dealing with cosmic energies, you are dealing with Kundalini & Prana. Such energies should be approached with respect, and the purpose of tuning in is ask your Higher Self and the Universe for Protection, Guidance and Inspiration. This ensures the energies do not harm you, you are guided correctly and you are provided ample inspiration to see the journey all the way back to the Source.
This tuning in you should also do prior to doing your personal yoga practice as well. There are many ways to tune in and accomplish the above. Silent prayer, AUM mantra chanting or the beautiful Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo mantra that we use in Kundalini Yoga. You can see an actual demonstration of this tuning in in the following video article: AUM Mantra Video for Starting Yoga Class.
Also, for teachers who teach classes in club and gym settings. I have myself taught in such environments and have had no problems in including this tuning in phase in those classes as well. So don’t shy away from it simply because you think the students will be turned off. Do it with confidence, and they will embrace this aspect of the class wholeheartedly.
2: Energize the Students:
After the meditation period and tuning in phase the students are calm, peaceful and relaxed… really they are tooooo calm, peaceful and relaxed , so it’s time to fire up their systems to get their energy flowing and get them going. So hit them with some powerful vitalizing pranayamas here. Here are some suggestions.
3-4. Daily Essentials & Essential Warm-ups:
Here I make sure I cover as much of the daily essential work as recommended by yoga as I can. I almost always make sure we do Butterfly Pose, which is great to start off with and we also do Forward Bend, to stretch the all important life nerve. One tip is to do these 2 poses before the breathing exercises so that the students, who have by then been sitting with legs crossed for some time, get a chance to stretch their legs. In addition, you can do these 2 exercises with Breath of Fire (or Long Deep Breathing) so you accomplish the task of firing up their energy as well.
Next in the warm-up section I will do the all important Spinal Warm-up Series. This is not just great for getting their back, hips, neck, shoulders, etc warmed up, but this set heats up the cerebro-spinal fluid which runs through the spinal cord. This is key, as it maximizes the benefit of the yoga set you plan to do later, as through the spinal cord run the main energetic channels which carry kundalini and prana up and down the primary energy centers (chakras). For some more details of how this works you can read the article Introduction to Kundalini Yoga.
One addition note, is that if your yoga set is not going to do any abdominal work, then include some navel, third chakra work in this section as well. This is also an area which one must work on each day. Here are 2 sets from which you can get some good abdominal exercises to use.
In the final part of the series I will go over the Work phase of teaching a yoga class. If you are a yoga teacher and would like to share any of your warm-up tips, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.