The steps involved in, the basics arc structure of class.
Most yoga classes follow a basic arc structure that includes the following five elements:
- a) Initiating the yogic process: The most important part of this process is breath awareness. It involves guiding the students into a more focused inner awareness connecting the body, breath, and mind helping them establish the foundation of their practice. It is also the time to create space for this initiation, set the tone and intention of the class, to decide how the students will sit, lie or stand at the opening of the class, and for introducing pranayama practices.
- b) Warming the body: Warm-up is an integral part of yoga. It improves flexibility, reduces the risk of injury, and generates inner fire to burn the toxicity. It can be classified into:
- i) Passive warm-up: The body is warmed up using external forces such as a heated room or hot bath. It is used to prepare the body for intense activity.
- ii) Active warm-up: This is a self-initiated process. It gradually increases the heart rate, blood flow, metabolic rate, and nerve impulses and activates muscle groups in the body. It can be further divided into:
- General warm-up: It includes activities that bring overall warmth to the body and is carried out at the beginning of the practice. A good general warm-up can include Ujjayi pranayama, Surya namaskar, cat-cow stretch.
Targeted warm-up: It includes activities that focus on preparing the body for intense actions that may come later during the practice. Ex: To prepare the body for backbends. A good targeted warm-up can include plank, chaturanga, up dog and down dog sequence.
c) Pathway to the peak: It is important to create an asana sequence with each asana in relationship to another to make it more accessible. The key principle is to move from simple to complex asanas leading to the deepest and easiest possible exploration along the entire path to the peak asana and eventually to Savasana. With clear guidance from the teacher, the students can cultivate a deeper awareness of each pose, breath work, and how the body can open and stabilize, giving the student the opportunity to successively explore.
d) Exploring the peak: The peak asanas or asanas are usually the easiest yet most challenging ones to practice. They are easy if the pathway offered is clear and simple, building up to the peak. They are also challenging because they require strength, openness, and balance. It is the perfect time to remind the students that the practice is about self-exploration, acceptance, and transformation. After the peak is explored, it is a must to completely relax, balance the breath, and tune into the personal intention of the practice. Ex: Backbends are usually placed at the peak.
- e) Integration: The integration process or Pratikriyasana includes individual asanas, sets of asanas, and the entire class sequence. There are their stages involved:
- i) Specific Pratikriyasana for peak asana: Teach simple asanas to neutralize any tension arising from the practice of peak asana.
- ii) Deep and relatively more static relaxing asanas: After neutralizing the tension, a series of asanas that calm the body and allow the students to move into a deeper release must be practiced.
iii) Savasana: It is important to end the practice by relaxing and offering a feeling of completeness, openness and wholeness. The corpse pose is the ultimate restorative asana and must be practiced for a minimum of at least 5 minutes.