Every yoga teacher has a different approach to incorporating philosophy in their classes. Lucy McCarthy shares her top tips on how to explore philosophy with students.
Read and Explore
Exploring yoga philosophy in our teaching is an interesting and juicy challenge. For me in a way, it has always flowed naturally when I am teaching, but I think that in part that is because I am so passionate about the philosophy. So first and foremost get stuck in. Read, explore, delve deep into the philosophy of yoga. There is so much out there but Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s and The Bhagavad Gita are amazing places to start exploring.
Use accessible themes
Then once you start exploring and an idea or particular element of a philosophy jumps out at you start to consider how you could talk about it to others in layman’s terms. As in a way that anyone could understand. You want to be able to help make it very accessible to your students. Ideally I also don’t think it should sound like you are lecturing them! More you are inviting them on a journey of exploration with you. You could also use these topics as jumping off points for creating themes for your classes.
Embody the philosophy
I think at its highest level we can weave these themes into our classes and even invite the students to feel a sense of it in their bodies. For example, if you were to explore the theme of courage, which is a quality that is much needed on the path of yoga you might choose a peak pose of the class that you feel really embodies that feeling of courage. In that way the student not only hears your words about the subject but also gets to experience it in their own bodies. In terms of weaving the theme smoothly through the class I think it is important to keep it succinct, using longer holds of poses perhaps to drop in the theme, or in the beginning of savasana when the student is very open to receive. Enjoy practicing!
If you want to explore how Lucy incorporates philosophy into her classes, she has developed, Flow towards Freedom, a series of classes moving through the koshas. Her Five Elements, series supports students to experience the impact of the elements in their bodies.
About Lucy McCarthy:
Lucy McCarthy discovered yoga on a rooftop in India and hasn’t looked back since. After studying Hatha Yoga in India, Lucy trained with Max Strom. Lucy now has over a thousand hours of training under her belt and she teaches mindful, breath and alignment focussed flow yoga. Lucy places an emphasis on the practice as a healing and transformative sanctuary in our lives. Her classes inspire, uplift and provoke curiosity.