My favorite yoga teachers have a skill that I've always admired – their ability to seamlessly weave storytelling into their yoga classes.
I love when I’m in Hanumanasana (or splits) and my yoga teacher reminds me of the story of the Hindu Monkey God, Hanuman, after whom the pose is named. Or, when a teacher explains a well-thought out intention about the class that reminds me of some greater good that exists within me that I can tap into as I practice.
However, in order to do this well, as a teacher, you need to start getting comfortable with when you weave story into your classes, and what types of stories you weave through a practice. In part two of this post, I will share an example of a story I've told in my yoga class. In this post, I will share with you when I think story can be best told during a class.
Four times to bring storytelling into your class:
The start of class – before or during the initial centering moments
You have two great options for storytelling at the start of a yoga class. The first option is to open the class with a story, before you even begin to instruct the students through movement or breath. I’ve seen many teachers open classes with story to set the stage for the class ahead. The second option is to integrate story during the opening moments of class, perhaps during the initial centering or the first few slow postures. This is my preferred approach, as I think it allows students to get in the right headspace to receive the story.
During static holds
Whenever you have students in a posture for a long period of time, that’s a great moment for you to share a story. A few examples of this would be during breaks in the flow of class such as in Child’s Pose or Downdog. Or, perhaps when you hold students in poses like Half-Pigeon or Lizard. Whenever a student is staying in a posture for a long while, this is a great time to draw their thoughts to a lesson, insight or story.
Stories that build
If there is a longer story that you wish to tell, a good method is to break that story up in pieces and tell it at different moments throughout class. For example: You might begin your story during the first downdog of class, then you’ll revisit it during a “rest” period, such as a long forward fold, from there you can continue telling the story as you move through posture after posture, building a tale throughout your class. This method is extremely impactful in creating a cohesive class and experience for a student.
The end of class – before or after savasana
A final option for storytelling comes at the end of class. I like to tell story at the end of class in two moments – either before or after savasana. If I choose to tell story before savasana, my method is to guide students into their final rest, but before they sink too deeply into silence, I will share a small story to close out their practice. Another method is to bring students out of savasana and either tell a story before they move from their lying position, or after you’ve guided them up to a final seat.
The truth is there are many moments when you can bring story into your yoga class. The key is to keep practicing and try to make the experience seamless for your students – authenticity and intentionality is all you need! Do you like to bring story into your yoga classes? When is your favorite time to do it? Share your best practices with us in the comments below!