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1-hour beginner’s class plan

by on June 4, 2013

For my first regular yoga class (7:30PM Friday nights at Kali Yoga, pay-what-you-can), I’m going to start with the following routine. Briefly, it will include a ~5 minute intro and shares, ~5 minutes of simple stretches, ~40 minutes of asana, ~10 minutes of pranayama, and ~5 minutes of meditation.

  • General Intro
    • I will introduce myself, and ask everyone to introduce themselves and share something (will vary with each class)
      • The philosophy is that student participation makes things more yogic.
    • Start with stretches (not asana) from neck to toes.
      • “Let the breath be free, let the mind wander.”
  • Intro to Asana
    • Stith prathnasana (mountain pose with hands in prayer).
      • Define yoga as unity of body and mind, with the nervous system being the connector. Yoga asanas are specific body configurations designed to link the body and mind by activating the nervous system.
      • Introduce the concept of Bhava (attitude), i.e., with the feet together and hands clasped, our bodies have to stand still, so our nervous system links this message to the brain, and our mind becomes more still. In this pose, we practice the bhava of stillness and acceptance. Accept that you’re here to practice yoga (or whatever your intention is).
    • Forward fold, with the bhava of humility and acceptance. Accept the stretch in the back body.
    • Lower to child’s pose, with the bhava of security, grounding. Introduce deep yogic breathing.
  • Basic Hatha sequence (that I learned in my very first yoga class)
    • Table + cat/cow
    • Core warmup, extending each leg back and arm forward and curling inward.
    • Downward dog -> plank, with emphasis on alignment and breath.
      • Repeat ~3 times before slowly walking up to forward fold and mountain.
    • ONE sun salutation very slowly, explaining how it is intended to expose the body to the morning sun, and stretch + exercise every muscle, and practice bhavas of stillness (mountain), confidence (back bends), humility (forward folds), balance (lunge), and integrity (plank/downward dog).
    • THREE more suryas by themselves.
    • Tree pose, with bhava of balance.
  • Seated asanas
    • Parbat asana, and all variations (lean left, right, back, front, twist).
    • Gomukhasna + forward fold
      • Add twist OR eagle arms
    • One / both legged forward fold, with emphasis on yang version (reaching, breathing deep) vs. yin version (relaxing hands, letting the back body melt forward).
    • Reverse table / bridge / wheel, depending on class energy.
    • SHORT savasana (corpse pose)
      • explain metaphor for death
  • PRANAYAMA
    • Ideally in vajrasana, or any comfortable seat, on a block, or against a wall
    • Breath awareness, without judgment
    • Basic pranayama: inhale, hold, exhale, hold
      • build this gradually, introducing each portion separately, and increasing the time slowly
      • explain how breath is a metaphor for lifespan
    • Nadi shodhana / alternate nostril
      • optional: “virtual” version using visualization instead of actual hands on nose
    • Kapalbhati (if time permits)
    • Chant OM / OM SHANTI / etc. (if time permits)
  • MEDITATION
    • any one of 5-points of awareness, tratak (open-eye concentration), metta (loving-kindness), vipassana (breath-awareness), zazen (watching the watcher)

That should easily take a little over an hour! I’d also like to introduce themes for each class, such as one of the 8 limbs, or a specific chakra or element to focus on, depending on the day and the energy level. Stay tuned for more routines that I’ll keep posting in my efforts to make yoga more open-source and accessible!

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