The Plan

by Sjanie McInnis

An attractive quality in the patchwork of methods that comprise modern yoga is creativity.

Yoga class has an open malleability that can incorporate other methods, dancing, or any other wildness under the sun.  There's something in my heart that wants to be free; otherwise it's unlikely I’d have taken on the responsibility of teaching in the first place.  

So, when pondering my “approach” to class planning I consider…is it possible to plan without being "too analytical", "unresponsive", or "not creative".  Is it possible to plan classes that are a mechanism for thinking rather than a substitute for thinking?  Is it possible to plan and have room for dialogue and expression?  Yeah, I think so.

I think so, because yoga is too huge to take down in one session.  I like to peel off small aspects of it each class and turn these aspects in the light, this way and that, and over time they accrue a complete picture.  This process takes planning; it's not a free-range activity. 

I've always got a plan because: 

  • I’m there to serve my students, not my whims
  • It anchors my mind from nervousness overstimulation
  • It creates diversity in my teaching.  If I don’t plan, I'll default to what is comfortable and therefore what I always do. 
  • It helps me form my teaching voice and the class culture because I’m not a victim of haphazard randomness

Hey, I recognize the overly planned class can indeed be fussy and precious and occasionally dies on the vine when a plan formed around using straps is instantly hosed when no straps are available.  So, these are the principles I try to stick to when planning. 

1. It’s distilled.  

  • e.g. "this class is about Anahata chakra and back bending".  Even if I  never say that sentence out loud; I know what that sentence is.

2.    It’s  flexible. 

  • Flexible in that both a beginner and senior student will have something to examine (unless it's a class specific to one level...but honestly, even then, I'm ready for anything)

3.    It’s simple.

  • Should not be so complicated that I end up stammering while greeting students because I’m trying to remember the plan

 Sure, planning can end up tight and constipated, but I don't go there.  Rare indeed is the teacher who is a true egoless conduit for energetics and spirit, so I put my left brain into gear and plan my classes wisely and well.

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About the Author

Sjanie guides voices and bodies in Vancouver, Canada.  She is primarily interested in using yoga as a way to get friendly humans in rooms together so they can figure out how to end unnecessary suffering and help the environment. Her twins keep this interest very close to her heart.