How to Make Your Yoga Class Creative
According to scientists, creativity refers to the state of mind we’re in when our brains make new neuron connections. This means that when we’re creative, we’re simply linking ideas together, so no matter how creative you believe yourself to be, this article will help you get in touch with the part of your brain that puts your ideas together!
The yoga classroom is a perfect place to express your creativity and surprise your students with your own voice and favorite ways to practice yoga. Below are a couple of tips to both inspire your brainstorming and help you create creative & playful classes.
This article is based on the idea that you should theme your classes to do so!
There are so many ways to do this, and I’m sure I’m not the first one to tell you! A theme helps students stay focused, think, and see their practice under a new light. It also makes you, the teacher, have fun adding new ideas into a practice that can feel a tad repetitive at times.
A theme helps students stay focused, think, and see their practice under a new light.
To give you a few examples, this is what it can look like: in the middle of winter, create a class with only beach-inspired music. Use holiday festivities to create sequences that’ll be a nice touch (e.g. Christmas tree pose, dancer turned into ice skater, or coming up with your version of a snowwoman). Are you reading a book that’s making your mind blossom with ideas and realizations? Create a class around a passage that made you think.
But how to stay inspired? Sometimes it feels like you’ve done everything possible and imaginable, or that the ideas just won’t come. Here’s how you can remedy to that.
Perfect your anatomy knowledge
If you know more about our modern day bodies’ needs, you’ll be able to play around with movement in a way that is safe while not having to focus on the asanas specifically. You’ll be able to add in movements the body needs and that are actually beneficial to its well-being.
For example, knowing that we rarely move from side to side in our daily lives, or that twists are some of the most helpful movements for the modern-day practitioner (who sits the whole day at her desk before going to class), you can incorporate side lunges into your regular lunges sequences, or add open-arm twists in mountain pose, chair or even tree.
Change the direction of the mat
One of my favorite teachers when I lived in Copenhagen, Denmark was also a dance teacher and she’d have us face different directions of the room often. Of course, as a dancer, it must be challenging to practice yoga in a space that’s defined by—and limited to—the four corners of your mat!
Have your students face the back of the room or the side. This will challenge their sense of perception and will renew their focus because suddenly, they might have to think twice about where their right and left sides are…
I once went to yoga with a teacher who used the metaphor of honey throughout the class. It made me think of new sensations and it was a very straightforward way to create a sense of ease and lightness throughout the whole practice.
I once went to yoga with a teacher who used the metaphor of honey throughout the class.
There are so many objects and events we can inspire ourselves from—so maybe your next theme can invoke a material, a kitchen ingredient, or an element of nature to create specific sensations and feelings.
Allow space for free play
This one might work better in vinyasa classes than any other kind of yoga. Whenever you have your students go through a new sequence of poses, say, dancing warrior, repeat that sequence once with fewer cues, and a second time with barely any. Then have a song, or a set amount of time to let your students play around with the poses, go with their breaths, add in a variation or go down into child’s pose. Invite them to truly connect to how they feel and to let their feelings (intuition!) guide them through the sequence.
In more static classes, you can invite your students to move in a way that simply feels good—that can be appreciated by everyone at the beginning and end of the class, so they can take the series of poses you usually do and adapt them to the day’s needs (think about cat/cow and other warm-up poses or supine twist and happy babies).
This works particularly well with regular students who know you and your style.
Keep practicing yourself
Go to classes with teachers you don’t know, try new apps, new online platforms, look for good anatomy teachers, creative yogis, and even inspire your practice with things you see and hear in your day-to-day—you’ll be surprised how much happens around us that we can draw inspiration from, without these things to be well-known enlightening quotes specifically related to yoga.
The more you express your creativity in your classes, the more opportunities you’ll give your students to get into that state.
Remember, yoga is about connecting mind, body and spirit, creating and finding a sense of lightness and ease in all these areas. The more you express your creativity in your classes, the more opportunities you’ll give your students to get into that state. Have fun throughout the process!