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Yoga Class Theme: You Are a Forest

“One day when you wake up, you will find that you’ve become a forest.

You’ve grown roots and found strength in them that no one thought you had.

You have become stronger and more beautiful, full of life giving qualities.

You have learned to take all the negativity around you and turn it into oxygen for easy breathing.

A host of wild creatures live inside you and you call them stories.

A variety of beautiful birds nest inside your mind and you call them memories.

You have become an incredible self sustaining thing of epic proportions.

And you should be so proud of yourself, of how far you have come from the seeds of who you used to be.”

- Nikita Gill, You Have Become a Forest

We live in an undeniably chaotic world. In this chaos, it’s easy to feel like our immediate circumstances engulf our entire lives. Unfortunately, this can transform us, even if just temporarily, into people that reflect negativity out onto others. Perhaps we become cynical. Perhaps we begin to snap at those around us.

In these times, it can be helpful to remember that our minds, our experiences, and our personalities are far deeper than whatever negativity we’ve taken in on a particular day, week, or even year. Like Nikita Gill mentions in this poem, we have a host of wild creatures and a variety of beautiful birds inside of us.

This means that it's ultimately up to us which of those creatures we draw upon. Can we dig deep to find a peaceful memory that we can share with the world, or do we allow the negativity around us to be reflected and amplified back? Can we remember our stories of joy and love, and allow those to shine as we go about our lives. Just being reminded of all the experiences we carry with us can be a powerful intention for students in a yoga class.

How to use this theme in class

To use this theme, start your class by quickly recognizing that this past year has been particularly challenging. Mention that this type of chaos often leads to the tendency to reflect negativity back out into the world. If you’ve found yourself doing this, let your students know that you’re not immune to this challenge. End your short introduction by telling them we all have a lot of positivity inside of us, even if it requires us to dig a little deeper than surface-level. Tell them that this class will be focused on “going inwards” to find that positivity so that we can reflect it back out into the world.

After your short introduction, bring everyone into a seated meditation. Cue students to bring attention to their breath without intentionally trying to regulate it. Let them allow their awareness to become the natural regulator, until their breathing automatically begins to slow and deepen. Then, read them the poem by Nikita Gill. After the poem, leave a few moments of silence for students to reflect.

Throughout the practice, remind students to bring their awareness to their deeper feelings. If they are in a difficult posture, encourage them to move past their immediate fatigue or desire to change their physical position, to notice their underlying calm, strength, and solidity. Remind them that we all have those creatures within us, in the form of experience, memory, and emotion, that we can draw upon to transform our mentality.

Similarly, in more passive stretches, encourage students to close their eyes and relax into their posture as they bring their attention to their mental state. Ask them to notice if their mind is racing or if they feel distracted and impatient. If so, let those feelings wash away with each exhale. What is left once they are gone?

At the end of class, re-read Nikita Gill’s poem just before bringing students out of Savasana. Have students move from Savasana to a seated position with their eyes closed. Reiterate to them that there are so many stories and experiences in each of us, and that we’re able to draw on any of them to help guide us through our daily lives. Remind them that they are each as broad, deep, and complex as a dense forest. Encourage them to draw on their positivity despite whatever challenges they may be facing.

In this way, their yoga may bring out a state of calm and joy, so that others who are still only reflecting their environment are able to feel that love cutting through all the daily chaos.


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