14th December 2009
Free Yoga Lesson Plans by Martha Maguire
Introducing my Lesson Plans
Why do I think my lesson plans might be useful? Yoga Journal and other sources have wonderful posture sequences that you can download, but yoga is more than a sequence of postures for physical fitness. As you become familiar with the postures, however, the tendency is to become distracted. As soon as you stray from the sensations in your body and mind you are practicing calisthenics, not yoga. I started practicing from a book in high school and loved the way the my practice relaxed my body. I worried less and slept better when I practiced regularly, but I had yet to tap into the greater psychological and spiritual benefits of Yoga. Many of my students’ bodies are frail and they are in recovery from a wide assortment of mental illnesses. Trauma Sensitive Yoga, practiced with a genuine intention to be aware and accepting of all the sensations and emotions that arise throughout our lives, is never mechanical or boring.
Developing a context or intention for each practice session is key to sparking my curiosity and maintaining my attention. If you are new to Kripalu Yoga, I invite you read my reflections and practice any sequence of postures that you are comfortable with. See for yourself if a different focus brings something new to familiar postures. Perhaps you will think of other themes that you’d like to explore with your practice. I’d love to hear your ideas!
Over the years I’ve developed a shorthand for outlining the classes you will find embedded in my yoga reflections as easily down-loadable PDF files. Not each posting contains a lesson plan, as I think reflecting on a context is sufficiently important to warrant a posting of it’s own. Each flow of activity must fit on one sheet of computer paper with an optional additional page for readings. Too much paper on the floor confuses me. I never follow a cookbook recipe exactly, nor stick precisely to a yoga lesson plan. Each day and each group of students is different. I don’t stipulate the holding times for my postures or vinyasa flows, although I enjoy mixing up dynamic and static asanas. Remember, lesson plans can make beautiful paper airplanes. When they land you are free to pilot your flow in your own direction.
Kripalu Yoga uses warm-up series as explorations of breath and feelings. By investigating our breath and our sensations in simple postures we become aware of how we feel in a given moment. Can we be aware and accepting of ourselves right now? During the Asana portion of the class I often return to or include aspects of the earlier explorations to shine new light on familiar postures. I will post videos of some of these explorations, so please stay tuned.
Check out my YouTube channel for a snowy version of Breath of Joy!
A few notes about the notations on the Lesson Plan PDFs:
I use both Sanskrit and English names for breathing techniques and postures and for the sake of clarity try to use the names one can find on the Yoga Journal website or in Kripalu literature. When I create a vinyasa or flow I may give it my own name. Please comment if you have a question. I am so familiar with my own material that I know what I mean. Your feedback will help me communicate better with students who haven’t attended my classes.
DD is short for downward facing dog.
> means transition to the next pose within a vinyasa
<< means to go back to the beginning of the flow, often to repeat on the other side.
Let me know what is confusing and eventually I’ll include some photos or short videos. I don’t want to emphasize form, however. If my musings suggest a variation, by all means use the forms that are juiciest for you! Americans tend to strive to find the perfect workout to produce the perfect body and psyche. Indian philosophy is far more individualistic. Squeeze your own grapes. Together we will create wine. Breathe, relax, explore and observe your sensations and emotions without judgment, and find your Self!