"I'm practicing softening, and softening some more, and softening again. And then forgetting, becoming tightened once more. And then remembering, letting softening loosen the hardness. Over and over. Forever."
I used the poem above in my yoga class this week. I love the beauty of the simple message: soften.
This reminder to soften is something I often talk about in my yoga classes. As students are in more restorative postures, even if the postures are intense, I often remind them to "soften their jaws," to "release any areas of tension," or to "imagine they are melting down towards the ground."
Utilizing the quote above at the start and end of your class is an awesome way to really set an intention of "softening" for your students. The theme of "softening" encourages students to let go of tension and cultivate a sense of ease and relaxation in both their mind and body.
Here are some more ideas for how to bring this theme into your teaching:
Begin your class by setting an intention around softening. You might say something like: "Today, we will focus on the theme of softening. This means letting go of any tension or stress we may be carrying in our bodies and minds, and allowing ourselves to sink into a state of relaxation and ease. We will use yoga postures and breath work to support this process."
Use language that promotes a sense of softness and surrender. Encourage students to "release" or "let go" of any tightness or tension they may be holding onto. Remind them to "surrender" to the present moment and to trust in their own ability to relax and soften.
Incorporate postures that encourage softening of the mind and body. Some examples might include:
Child's pose (Balasana): This restorative posture allows students to sink into a sense of surrender and release any tension they may be holding in their shoulders, back, and hips. Encourage students to stay in the pose for several deep breaths, allowing the body to relax and sink into the floor.
Supported fish pose (Matsyasana): This gentle backbend helps to open the chest and lungs, which can encourage deep breathing and relaxation. Have students use props, such as blankets or blocks, to support their body and allow them to sink into the pose with ease.
Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): This calming posture helps to stretch the inner thighs and groin, while also promoting relaxation in the mind and body. Encourage students to use props, such as blankets or blocks, to support their body and to allow themselves to sink into the pose with a sense of surrender.
You can also use breath work to support the theme of softening. Slow, deep breathing can help students to relax and let go of tension. Consider incorporating techniques such as alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) or box breathing (also known as square breathing). These techniques can help students to focus their mind and cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation.
Encourage students to cultivate a sense of softness in their emotions as well. Remind them that it's okay to let go of any negative thoughts or emotions that may be holding them back. Encourage them to practice self-compassion and to be kind and gentle with themselves.
This theme of softening can help students to let go of tension and stress, and cultivate a sense of ease and relaxation in both their mind and body. By using language that promotes surrender and relaxation, incorporating postures that encourage softening, and incorporating breath work to support relaxation, you can create a sense of calm and ease in your classes.