Coming up with unique yoga class themes can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the world of teaching, so we have come up with a helpful how-to guide on perfecting your theme.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand anything about yoga themes for your class, we’ve covered everything you need to know, including:
- Why Your Yoga Class Needs a Theme
- 5 Tips for Coming Up With a Yoga Class Theme
- 7 Types of Yoga Class Themes
Before we get started, if you’re looking to progress your career as a yoga professional, why not take a step up and get qualified as a Level 4 yoga instructor?
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Why Your Yoga Class Needs A Theme
Before we get into the examples, and how you can come up with your own meaningful themes for your yoga class, you may be wondering why you need one in the first place.
Well, a yoga class theme sets an intention. It allows for the class members and you as the instructor to know exactly what you’re going into, plus it helps you to plan and organise said class with relevant aspects.
What makes setting a theme so effective is the amount of direction it can provide for the class and instructor.
For example, maybe you have set a theme of gratitude. With this in mind, your class planning becomes a lot easier, and your clients can easily follow your lead and set the correct intentions for themselves.
With a theme of gratitude, you may decide to incorporate the Gayatri Mantra, which is a prayer to the divine light - often used to practice daily gratitude.
Take Kirtan London for example, you can see their class below. They have a perfect balance of everything Mantra related with their classes that point out that mantras and meditation are just as important as your yoga practice.
The point is, starting the class with a clear direction allows for a much more effective class. It allows for classmates to look deeper into that part of themselves and helps to focus on one theme at a time.
This is particularly important for new yoga teachers who are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things that can be covered in one class.
With a theme, you can plan weeks or even months ahead of time and by setting a theme for every class, you have the ability to know exactly what each class is going to consist of.
Now that you’re well aware of why they are important, allow us to guide you to coming up with your very own yoga class themes and ideas.
5 Tips for Coming Up With a Yoga Class a Theme
Coming up with yoga class themes is more difficult than it sounds, because it is not uniform for every yoga teacher.
In fact, though some may have similar ideas running through them, themes stem from personal experience in yoga, and each class is going to be unique to that instructors take on the theme.
With that in mind, there are some things that you should remember so your theme is worthwhile to your class.
These tips are directions to dig deep into your own subconscious and come up with unique yoga class themes that help you to create a meaningful experience for you and your clients.
#1 - Think Of It As An ‘Offering’
Firstly, one of the most important things when it comes to creating and implementing yoga themes for class is to offer your theme, not to force it upon the class.
This is crucial for your class’ success. If you set an intention or theme that doesn’t resonate with particular classmates, you’re almost alienating them from the rest of the class.
That’s the last thing you want or need for your clients - so how do you overcome this?
You should implement the theme of your choosing by explaining why you chose it. This might help to get classmates on the same page and help them resonate with what it is that you’re trying to achieve with this theme.
However, you should reiterate that this is an offering, not a demand and always instruct your class to set their own intentions before the class begins.
Give them 1 or 2 minutes of silence with their eyes closed in a meditative state to think about their own intentions, whether that’s related to your theme or not.
Many people will take on your theme, especially it will help them get on board with the class and follow a certain direction.
However, for those who reject it, it means they’re not segregated from the class; they can still feel connected to the practice with their own intentions.
So how does this help you to come up with your own theme?
Thinking about how you are going to implement the theme, helps you to create an appropriate theme. Let’s create a hypothetical situation to make this clear.
For example, you may come up with a theme that revolves around letting go.
Your class theme = Letting go of anger
There are some problems with this theme, and it could be worded differently to apply to a wider audience.
Trying to implement this could be restrictive for your class - if you ask them to think of something that has made them angry, it may start the class off on the wrong foot.
Plus, not everyone may have something they’re angry about! So, you may think at the first instance that this is a good way to let go, but then when you think about implementing this physically, it becomes a little more complicated.
Instead, you could name your yoga class theme something more open ended and simple by removing the restrictive emotion and naming it - Letting Go.
This is one of the yoga class themes and intentions that can be interpreted in many ways, which is what you want for your class as after all this is an offering.
This way, you’re asking your class to look inside of themselves and self reflect, embedding what yoga is all about.
#2 - Think About Why You Started Yoga
Secondly, you’re going to want to dig deep when brainstorming your own yoga class themes and think about why you started yoga.
You could even think about when you came up with your yoga studio mission statement and apply the same logic.
Yoga is an emotional practice, so it only makes sense to think about your own experience when coming up with a theme. Plus, your reasons behind why you practice yoga could be the same as many others.
Thinking about your roots is a great way to help you come up with a theme, maybe you started yoga to improve your gratitude, or to become more humble in everything you do.
These kinds of emotions make for relevant themes that class goers can relate to, interpret and apply to themselves.
Take a look at Happy Place Yoga below - this yoga instructor is completely transparent about why they began teaching yoga.
This example is to show how you have the ability to go back to the start and reach into your memory and find why it is you decided to become an instructor.
She says that it allowed her to calm her nerves through breathing, while still being an effective way to exercise.
So, all you need to do is make the connection between this past experience and apply it to your class, as it is more than likely that there is somebody in the class who is also there to calm their nerves.
This is when you can actually move from the obvious mindful themes and integrate some physical themes into your class. As Happy Place Yoga phrases it, for those people who want to “get a good sweat on and cool down in one class”.
We will get into more detail about physical exertion yoga class themes a little later, but for now you should open your mind to more than one style of theme because class goers are all there for different reasons!
#3 - Keep It Simple
It is important to avoid over complicating things, even if you’re looking for unique yoga class themes - it should be easily remembered and understandable.
It is relatively easy to forget a word, but it is much easier to remember a feeling. The important thing is that your theme is making an impact on how the class goers are feeling so keep the actual name really simple.
1, 2 or 3 words at most are sufficient. Plus, the more detailed the name itself, the less it can be self-interpreted, and as we mentioned earlier, you want to avoid a restrictive theme. So how do you overcome this?
When you’re brainstorming your yoga class themes and ideas, they’re coming from memories, experiences and your knowledge that you have about yoga.
With all of these ideas, try to encapsulate it in just one word.
Separate your physical ideas from your spiritual ideas, and group up your own recurring themes before narrowing them down to a simple 1 or 2 words.
You should try doing this on some pen and paper. If you allow all of your first ideas to flow onto paper, you’re able to physically see any recurring themes, and it gives you the ability to separate themes that are dedicated to particular ideologies.
For example, once you have all of your thoughts, feelings and past experiences on paper, pick out what fits where. Maybe ‘finding strength’ can fit into a physical theme and a spiritual theme so put them in both.
Whereas, ‘finding peace’ is likely to be within a mindfulness section, so put it in there.
Soon enough, your ideas become simplified and organised ready for you to schedule into your yoga classes.
#4 - Relate It To Self Improvement
Self improvement is one of the benefits of yoga that simply cannot go overlooked.
Attending a yoga class is one of the most effective ways to focus on self improvement and become more self aware overall.
With this in mind, your choices should be relative towards this because this way, your theme is going to apply to a wider range of class goers.
Self improvement can be many things and is easily interpreted to each individual, this is why it is a good idea to keep this at the forefront of your mind when finalising a yoga theme.
- Weight management
- Self love
- Overall Mental health
- Overall Physical health
All of these areas are things that people can improve by consistent yoga and though you won’t be aware of every class goer's inner struggles or areas they want to improve on, you do know that it is likely going to be some sort of self improvement.
Though some people may want to just stay consistent and don’t necessarily have any goals, anything but going backwards is beneficial.
Thus, by keeping self-improvement or at least sustaining optimal health in every form at the basis of every theme, it is much more likely to be accepted by the class.
#5 - Keep Intention In Mind
Keeping intention in mind when offering and coming up with unique yoga class themes is just as important for the instructor as it is for the class goer as everyone’s intention can be different.
The theme you set is a catalyst for your class to think about their own personal intention.
For example, let's take the theme of love.
Your theme is love, but the way in which class mates set their intention is dependent on them and their personal life.
Here are just some ways clients or yourself could set their own intention based on your theme of love.
- Self love of appearance
- Self love of the mind
- Family love
- Healing broken relationships
- Letting go of grudges
These may seem pretty obvious, but they don’t have to be exaggerated intentions either.
Maybe you have decided to treat your body with love so you’re going to set the intention of inviting in more loving people, allowing and accepting compliments, and congratulating yourself on the small achievements.
This reiterates the importance of keeping your themes open-ended so that the importance of intention in yoga practice is not disturbed.
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Types of Yoga Class Themes
Now that you have thought about how you can come up with your yoga class sequence, themes and everything in between, you can start to finalise and implement them.
Below, we have 5 different styles of themes that you can take inspiration from, these are ideas that are easily interpreted and all apply to self improvement.
By taking time to see how these themes apply to you, your brainstorming can become a lot easier!
First, we have one of the biggest aspects of yoga and this is spirituality.
Basing your theme around spirituality is a great way to get the class to look inwards and self reflect.
However, there are some things you need to remember when it comes to themes for a beginner yoga class and implementing spirituality.
There may be people in the class who aren’t spiritual, so you need to make it accessible and open for interpretation.
Spirituality can be incredibly personal, yet it has been a part of yoga since the beginning as a way to connect the mind, body and spirit.
You should explain this briefly to your class, but without preaching. So how can you implement this into your chosen theme?
Let’s say your starting point is spirituality, now narrow this down.
This could boil down to the intention of opening the heart chakra.
The opening of the heart chakra could set the theme of love.
Now that you have narrowed down the broad term of spirituality to a simplified theme of love with the intention of opening the heart chakra.
This makes it easy to explain to your class without making the idea of spirituality compulsory to their practice.
You could simply explain to your class that the heart chakra is an energy point in the body according to spiritual logic, and that it is said to be the epicentre of all things love, compassion, forgiveness and empathy.
With this information, your class goers are able to apply this to their own life. They can set their own intentions according to what they’re going through or try to self improve by working on their forgiveness.
Another theme that is common in yoga is gratitude.
It is easy to forget how lucky you are, and by working on gratitude your class is able to think about what they're thankful for. It allows for time away from the distraction of everyday life to reflect on everything they have and to be thankful for it.
Take a look at this example class from Pila Yoga who based their class theme on gratitude to coincide with thanksgiving.
This is a perfect example of how you can use seasons or current events to come up with your yoga theme.
Times of the year like this can make it easier for your class to follow your yoga class themes, ideas and intentions as they will already be in a similar headspace.
Gratitude is a theme that many people can relate to, they can choose what they’re thankful for and it makes it very easy for them to set their own intentions based on your set theme.
The theme of love has been a common part of our tips and examples, and that is due to its sheer versatility as a yoga theme.
It can be applied to so many different areas, whether that's spirituality, self love or practising loving others. Typically, this is a theme that is going to serve most of the class in one way or another.
Therefore, no matter how you set the theme it is easily accepted. You can use the theme of love to coincide with certain events or seasons.
As you saw previously, it is relatively easy to plan ahead and set your themes with times of the year and of course a great way to do that for love is during Valentines, for instance.
A great example of this is Glo's Heart Opening Yoga class, from Kathryn Budig, which utilises poses and asanas that represent love.
Whether in a relationship or not, you can empower everybody in the class and ask them to set the intention of self love or set their own intentions surrounding all things love.
There are other ways you can implement the theme of love too. Maybe you have a close knit class and a member is getting married - you could dedicate the class to them and the ideology of love.
It is definitely one of the most versatile themes for your yoga class!
Reflection is a theme that can carry into many different styles of yoga.
This is because similarly to love and spirituality, it follows the uniform style of adaptability. Reflection can mean many different things to different class goers, allowing them to set their own intentions.
You can implement this theme by offering suggestions to your class on ways they can reflect. This will help their mind work and assist them in looking inwards to see what they need to reflect on.
Some examples to reflect on could include:
- Something you need to let go of
- What matters to you
- How you treat yourself
- How you treat others
- Your reactions
These are all ways that you can self-improve and make yoga a mechanism of consistent self improvement.
You should make it clear to your class that this is a theme and intention to improve, but it isn’t a way to beat yourself up, in fact it is quite the opposite.
It is a way to no longer dwell on the past, but to reflect, overcome and move forward. Ensure you’re explaining how this theme can inform their intentions and work toward a better version of themselves.
New beginnings can be the perfect starting point for implementing yoga class themes at the first instance.
If you’re opening a new yoga studio and want to start off your first class with a relevant theme, this is the perfect time to use a theme surrounding new beginnings.
You can still implement this theme without being at the starting point, you may decide to set this when you have a new class member and dedicate the theme to their new beginning, again, it can be interpreted in many different ways so it is still relevant at any time.
People are consistently going through pivotal moments in their life, and by setting a new beginnings theme for a new class member, you’re honouring their presence while also allowing for acceptance from other class members.
This could include people who are also going through other new beginnings such as:
- A new job
- A new house
- A new relationship
- A pregnancy
- A fitness journey
- A new beginning to improved mental health
There are countless new beginnings that all start at different points in life so more often than not, this is among the yoga class themes and intentions that is easily interpreted by your class.
Finally, away from the mental aspects of yoga class themes and intentions, one stand out intention that makes for an inclusive take is physical improvements.
As you’re well aware by now, people join yoga classes for a variety of reasons, one common reason is the physical exertion to lose weight or improve cardiovascular health due to the demanding nature of certain styles of yoga.
You could base your theme on the improvement of physical health and increasing physical exertion in order to work on cardiovascular health.
This is the kind of theme you would set for particular styles of yoga that actually require demanding physicality such as:
These styles of yoga require effort and are going to seriously raise the heart rate so there is going to be a level of expectancy from the class goers that they’re going to be getting sweaty!
With this in mind, setting the theme becomes a little more relevant to these classes. You can explain that it requires physical exertion and thus, they’re able to set their own intentions based on this notion.
For example, class members may choose to set their intention of determination or surpassing goals. This can be applied to their physical achievements and it is a great way to apply intention and themes to not only the mind and spirit but the body too, ultimately aligning the three.
Are Yoga Class Themes And Styles The Same?
Simply put, no, they are not the same.
The style of yoga that you’re attending will be stated before you attend the class, whereas the theme can vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- The specific instructor
- The time of year (Seasons can hugely affect the yoga class’ theme)
- The class participants
When you look at the time table and see Hatha yoga on a Monday and Vinyasa on a Tuesday, you’re looking at the style.
The yoga class themes won’t typically be disclosed prior to the class. They will be announced during the beginning of the class and students are able to choose to accept or reject the theme as they work on their own intentions.
Do I Need A Theme For Every Class?
There is no requirement for a yoga class to have a theme, but for all of the reasons we have reiterated throughout this article, there are certainly many benefits to it.
You could choose to set themes for your yoga class when it feels right. Avoid putting yourself under pressure or over complicating things.
If it doesn’t come naturally to you or is becoming a chore, simply integrate it when it feels right and don’t have a theme when it doesn't!
Ultimately, yoga is an expression of emotion and flowing movements, and as an instructor, you’ll be able to gauge when is (and when isn’t) an appropriate time to use a yoga class theme.
Before You Go!
Since you’re ready to get your yoga class themes in order, why not kick off your next class with a new beginnings theme? Overall, it’s a great way to make your class unique and meaningful so it is certainly worth a try!
Before you leave us, if you want to make your classes even more exciting, why not expand your repertoire of yoga qualifications with a level 4 in yoga instructing?
You can find out more about our yoga advancement course and other health and fitness courses here in our downloadable course prospectus.
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Download your FREE Yoga Course Prospectus
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