Theming a Baptiste Journey Into Power Yoga Class - How do they do it?

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A masterfully themed yoga class is a beautiful thing to behold and to experience. I recently had that experience in a class led by Leandra Antonutti where she wove the concept of a lizard losing or shedding its tail into the class theme. She linked a lizard losing its tail into our practice by having us do lots of lizard-based poses but she also spoke to where a lizard doesn't make losing its tail right or wrong and it doesn't try to fix it. She then spoke to how people often get caught up in experiencing a loss of some kind and we go into trying to fix it rather than seeing the loss as an opportunity to regenerate, rebirth and begin again. I had the experience of "HOW DID SHE DO THAT?" while I was practicing.

I like to break things down and try to figure them out, so once her website went live, I took the time to dive into the pacing of what she said, when she said it, how often she gave us silence and when she spoke to the physical cues of the yoga practice of Journey Into Power.

I know this is WAY overboard behavior. I was hoping to find a magical pattern in her lovingly themed classes so I compared the theme in "Give Up The Small Fights" with "Shed Your Tail", but I did not find an obvious A+B+C=D pattern. What I did find gave me enough of a structure to play with creating themes for my classes.

First there's the theme - clearly stated - "The theme of today's class is X". For this I called it the concept. Where I saw a clear link to Baptiste Methodology, I simply called that methodology. Any phrases that supported the action tied to the concept, I called those action/access. Anytime a phrase was used to describe something counter to the action/access, I called those constraints. 

From here I started color coding and underlining the types of phrases throughout the class. I made notes on when she was speaking to anything OTHER than the physical yoga practice. Making notes with timestamps of when she was speaking, when she was quiet and what pose we were in when this was happening. I then used the Journey Into Power outline (which she didn't teach strictly from) and color coded the sections where she spoke to THEME, METHODOLOGY, ACTION/ACCESS or CONSTRAINT. I was looking for a pattern, but none was obvious even after comparing the lizard class with the small fights class.

Luca Richards is holding a Grow Tips Live - How to Deliver an Impactful Theme In Your Classes on September 9th. I'm excited to learn about how Luca themes classes, now that I've dissected two of Leandra's powerfully themed classes and come up with a hypothesis of sorts.

Until then, I used the CONCEPT, METHODOLOGY, ACTION/ACCESS, CONSTRAINT quadrant to theme two classes so far. The feedback I received on the first class was that I should not use the word 'maybe' when offering modifications for poses as the word 'maybe' is disempowering, and that I should speak to my experiences around the theme of the class. Here is the worksheet I used for the second class I themed with the quadrant method so you can see my thought processes.

With time and practice, it will get easier to speak to themes, action/access concepts and constraints without needing notes. For now while we're teaching from a standing desk in the yoga studio, I don't think that having notes with me is such a terrible thing while I'm trying on this new way of teaching.

Leave me a message about how you theme classes? I'm curious!


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September 3, 2020 at 6:19 PM delete

Thank you for sharing your process, take-aways, and your passion. It’s always inspiring.

My process for theming a class is to stay as simple as I can. To not spend even more than 10 minutes “planning” a class as I don’t want the experience to be too scripted, perfected, or feeling manipulated. I can only teach from what I know, and what I know comes from my own experiences on my mat, and then I source that experience and the insights I gain from time spent on my mat, time spent absorbing other teachers delivery, and that’s like the concept of “organizing and stabilizing from the outside in” and a pulling into center with experience and knowledge, to them take from that to expand out in my delivery in a class, so it comes from an authentic place in my core.

I too am absolutely amazed and in awe of many teachers wondering how they got me to do something on the mat, or why I’m hanging on their every word, how they got me so in my own flow, and while there’s technique and specifics regarding the skills and shape of delivering a powerful theme, my belief is that the only way I’m going to get to that level of mastery is like anything else in this practice (or life) - to discover it for myself. Try and fail and try more and fail more, and weed out when I’m pressing the theme right up against their face, and when my theme is lost amongst too many other images and concepts, and letting the discoveries come natural vs something I’m trying to “get right.”

There’s no doubt about it though, when a class has a theme, it’s a powerful experience. Keep inspiring Jen!