February Classes: Hosting a Heart Opening Themed Mind-Body Experience

Back in November 2013, I wrote about some yoga class themes that I generally pursue. It’s now February 2014 and if you’ve read my blog back in November, you may recall that I mentioned having a “Heart Opening” theme.
Since it is February, I actually wanted to elaborate a little on what I was thinking of doing for my yoga classes. Plus, if you are doing special February classes, I would love to hear what you are doing! I will do a variation of the below plan each week. This year, there are four weeks in February.

HERE’S MY PLAN:
1. I’ll open with idea that it is February and when we often think of February events, one of the things that typically makes the list is Valentine’s Day. When you think about Valentine’s Day, you are likely to think about the heart. Heck, hearts are everywhere in decorations, on cards, balloons, commercials, and on heart shaped boxes packed with candy. So if my participants haven’t guessed, I’ll inform them that class will highlight several heart opener yoga poses inspired by Valentine’s Day.

But to make it a whole class experience…

2. I’ll also discuss the Heart Chakra.
a. Now, I know that some gym yoga participants could potentially dismiss the chakra idea so I won’t go into extreme detail or rub it in. Instead, I’ll tell them about the nervous system and its network of nerves throughout the body that these nerves connect back into the spinal column in the spine. The medical/scientific community calls the connection points “nerve plexuses” with the one located in the chest area being called the “cardiac plexus.” Yoga refers to these nerve plexuses as “Chakras.” Regardless of what you call these points, if they are blocked, damaged, or otherwise not flowing freely, it can be associated with illness.
b. In discussing chakras, I’ll briefly mention and point on my body the seven chakras.
c. As I talk about the heart chakra symbolism and yes, I will use the word “symbolism” because I am teaching these classes in a gym setting, I will show a picture of how it is depicted. (I have those little chakra wheels). Then I will mention that it is green and associates with the air element. I will also mention the body areas governed by the heart chakra are the heart, thymus (immune system), and lungs.
d. I’ll mention blockage signs such as shallow breathing, Asthma, and heart and lung diseases. I definitely DON’T want to come across as discouraging any proven medical treatments but rather present the idea that what we’ll do in class is a complementary healing art of self-help remedies/self-soothing practices. ****(Every now and then, our doctors encourage alternative practices in addition to their treatment plans).****

My discussion won’t be more than a few minutes and I’m only going into detail on day one.

3. The heart opening poses are meant to be rejuvenating, help to open the chest area posture wise, stimulate those nerve areas which may provide an energetic sense. (I feel this energetic sense when I personally pursue wheel pose).

4. The breathing exercises positively stimulate the respiratory system and us as a whole. Each week, I’ll highlight a breathing exercise.

5. Aromatherapy is therapeutic. Many scents trigger different emotions and sensations in different people. Maybe it is a memory albeit good or bad. Or a scent might trigger a gland in our brain to release a chemical secretion into our bloodstream that causes some affect.
A. I’ll use pure essential oils and not fragrance because some people have adverse reactions to “fragrances” that often result in a migraine. The last thing I want to do is give anyone a headache so I’ll ask first before using any essential oil. If I get even one person who says no, then I won’t use them.
B. I Googled Heart Chakra and Essential Oils and pleasantly discovered that I could choose from about 15 oils. I chose four, one for each week in February. (I found my essential oils at Whole Foods and went with the Aura Cacia brand of which is sold there. You can learn more about them at http://www.auracacia.com/auracacia/acindex.html). There are other pure brands out there like “Young Living” and “DoTERRA.”
C. I took a workshop back in November on how to enhance your yoga experience with essential oils. For this class I’ll have them rub some oil on their biceps pulse point, on their chest, and on one of those cotton facial pads which would be placed at the top of their mat since essential oils can ruin some mats. My oils will be diluted in Jojoba oil since it is being applied to people’s skin. Some oils can’t be applied in a “neat” state (undiluted) as it can be a skin irritant. My mixture is 1 teaspoon carrier oil (jojoba) to 10 drops essential oils that I mixed in a small glass jar.

6. Reflexology is also therapeutic. I’ll focus on the feet since in yoga, we have our shoes off. There are reflexes on the feet that correspond to every limb, organ, and gland in our bodies. When we apply gentle pressure to specific points on our feet, we stimulate the corresponding limb, organ, or gland. In class, I’ll have them sit on their yoga mats in easy pose and have them apply pressure with both of their thumbs to the balls of the feet. We’ll do one foot at a time.

7. I’ll give them a little handout that they can keep. I make handouts from time to time with my classes. I sometimes feel that I might firehose them with information and this helps them revisit what was presented in class and grow deeper in their practices. I’ve always have had a positive response and have even had clients ask for handouts from a class they may have missed.

————–
All and all, I’ve done this type of yoga class before in other gym locations and the participants liked the class. In the past, I had the chakra discussion (just as briefly) and then we did a heart opening theme sequenced class. This will be the first time I do a month long series, specifically bringing in the breathing exercises (with this themed class), aromatherapy, and reflexology. My hope is that my participants will enjoy their special Valentine’s gift to them from me.

1. The breathing exercises won’t be necessarily new to my clients as we have done many of them in other classes from time to time (breath of fire, alternate nostril breathing, warming breath…).
2. I’ve never presented essential oils in class. I do use them in my own practice and have been in studio classes that have used them. I also enjoy aromatherapy when I get massages or facials and the masseuse or esthetician uses essential oils.
3. As for reflexology, I’ve always have been curious about the power of the foot. Plus who doesn’t like a little foot massage. (They will apply gentle pressure on each foot with their thumbs).

In general, I hope to perfect my February theme. (It has changed since I’ve first explored the idea). I’ll continue to research ideas to make it a more rounded and whole mind-body experience. I haven’t narrowed down specific music so if any of you out there have recommendations, I’d love to hear your song suggestions.

Other ideas…?
Namaste,
Kristen

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This entry was posted in Community Yoga Practices, Creating Yoga Themes, Exercise, Exercise Foundations, Fun, listening to your body, mind-body connection, strategies, Uncategorized, wellness, Yoga and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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