100 Yoga Class Themes

Please use this list of yoga class themes as inspiration for your classes.  The most important thing when using a theme, especially one that someone else thought up is to contemplate what it means to you personally.  Journal about it, meditate, and even think about it right before you fall asleep.  Distill the ideas of the themes into one main core message and everything else will unfold from there.  I prefer to keep the same theme for all my classes in a given week because the significance of the theme starts to show up in my life and my ability to share it with my classes becomes more succinct & authentic.

General Themes

Effort and Surrender
Giving and Receiving
Strength and Softness
Beginner’s Mind
Balance
Luck
Smiles
Miracles
Play
Friendliness
Discipline
Integrity
Foundation

Yoga Sutras

1.2 Yoga chittavritti nirodhaha – yoga stills the fluctuations of the mind
1.12 Abhyasa vairagya tannirodaha – happiness is obtained through a strong practice and letting go of the fruits of your practice.
2.1 Tapas svadyaya ishvarapranidhani kriyayoga – the practice/action of yoga is a disciplined offering to something bigger.
2.46 Sthira sukham asanam – your asana or seat should be both steady and comfortable.

Chakras

Muladhara – pelvic floor – earth – instinct, security, survival, potential, food, matter
Swadisthana – sacrum – water – change, movement, pleasure, emotions, sexuality, desire
Manipura – navel – fire – power, autonomy, will, energy, technology, self-esteem
Anahata – heart – air – love, breath, balance, relationship,
Vishudda – throat – ether – self-expression, sound, vibration, communication, creativity
Ajna – brow/pineal gland – light – intuition, sight, imagination, vision
Sahasrara – crown – consciousness – thought, knowing, understanding, transcendence, meditation, universal connection

Koshas

Annamaya kosha – earth – physical layer
Pranamaya kosha – water – energy layer
Manomaya kosha – fire – mind layer
Vijanamaya kosha – air – wisdom layer
Anandamaya kosha – space – bliss layer

Yama

ahimsa – non-violence
satya – benevolent honesty
aparigraha – non-hoarding
asteya – non-stealing
bramacharya – to behave as a student of god

Niyama

saucha – cleanliness
santosha – contentment
tapas – discipline
swadyaya – self-study
ishvara pranidhana – offering to something bigger

Mudras

Jnana
Anjali

Hindu Gods and Goddess stories

Durga
Hanuman
Shiva Nataraj
Ganesha

5 divine acts of Shiva

Creation/Sustenance/Dissolution
Concealment/Revelation

Opposites

Purusha/Prakriti – spirit/matter
Concealment and Revelation (Vilaya and Anugraha)
mystery & insight
ignorance and awakening
forgetting and remembering
Sthira/Sukha
Yin/Yang
Embrace/Release

Trinities

Icca – Jnana – Kriya = Will, Knowledge, and Action
Sarawati – Lakshmi – Kali
The Gunas – essential qualities of nature: tamas, rajas, sattva

The Malas (dust or film on the mirror of consciousness concealing us from our true nature)

Anava Mala – unworthiness, sadness, separation from God, lack of meaning.
Mayiya Mala – competition, anger, jealousy, separation from others.
Karma Mala – anxiety, fear, the desire to own and to accomplish.

Attributes of the Absolute

Swatantrya – ultimate freedom
Purnatva – fullness
Spanda – pulsation
Chit – consciousness
Ananda – bliss
Shri – benevolence/ auspiciousness

Western Philosophy/Psychology

Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs
Flow – Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
Thriving vs Surviving
Use your strengths

5 Elements

Earth
Air
Fire
Water
Space/Ether

Bandhas

Mula
Uddiyana
Jalandara
Hasta & Pada

Holidays

Thanksgiving: Gratitude
Valentine’s Day: Love yourself first
Easter: I believe in miracles
Fourth of July: Independence
Martin Luther King Jr Day: I have a dream
Veteran’s Day: Service
Diwali, Indian festival of lights: Be the light
Guru Purnima: honor the teacher inside & out
Equinoxes: Balance
Mother’s day: nurture yourself

Other

Beauty
Nitya Karmas – creating beauty out of the every day. The nitya karmas are the actions that we do every day of our life: eating, sleeping, drinking water, going to the bathroom. They are the eternal actions that we are bound to do.
Listening
Dedication
Stillness
Prana
Sankalpa – Intention
TED Talks Courage and Vulnerability – Brene Brown
Lotus: beauty from the muck

What other theme ideas have I missed?  Add to the list by posting your ideas in the comments below.

Author: Mado

Mado Hesselink is a yoga instructor and writer based in Asheville, NC. She also enjoys painting, gardening, aerial silks, and putting large amounts of weight over her head. With gratitude to the many teachers who have guided her on the path of yoga, Mado acknowledges life and parenthood as the greatest yoga teachers of all.

Share This Post On

27 Comments

  1. Thank you for this list! I’ll be referring to it often, on those days when it’s a little harder to find inspiration! Love the site!

  2. This is extremely helpful and inspiring, all in one page. Well done!
    Hola lovely Monica!! ;)

  3. Thank you for posting this! I’m always trying to find good theme ideas and this gives me some fuel for thought. I also agree with what you said about meditating on what the theme means to oneself. Love your site <3

  4. Thank you! I too find that keeping the same theme all week in my classes enhances my teaching of the theme as well as my integration of the theme into my life.

  5. Altho I’ve been practicing yoga for years..I’m new to ‘teaching’. Love what I’ve found here. So helpful and inspiring. Thank-you for sharing your gifts! I’ll be returning here often…

  6. I have just recently stopped teaching because I felt as though I need to focus on my own practice. Thank you for this, I will definitely be using these themes to create my personal practice and will take the time to meditate on each one per day. I am so excited to have gotten ahold of this, and have much gratitude for you to take the time in investing your creativity and insight into this!! Namaste

  7. Thanks Marcie! Glad it is helpful.

  8. That’s a great idea Shama – I never thought of using the list for personal practice.

  9. Thank you Monica!

  10. Holy cow! What an incredible resource. I’ll definitely be sitting with a few of these themes. As you say, it’s important to put it in your own context before offering it to students.

    One theme I’ve focused quite a bit on is curiosity — through experimentation, the idea of *your* expression of the practice, noticing sensations, and offering lots of opportunities for choice in class. I think it probably ties in nicely with “Listening” above.

    Thank you for creating this list and for your generosity with what you know. It’s inspiring.

  11. I have just joined a yoga course and I can vouch on its effectiveness. It was nice to read through the 100 interesting themes that you have discussed in this article. Nice work!

  12. Brilliant!Thank-you!Im always looking for new themes for my classes….Some other themes I have used are:
    *The 3 gunas(3 qualities of mind)~tamas,rajas and sattva
    *The yoga concept patipaksha bhavanam~(changing a negative thought into a positive,changing ones perspective of a situation:Sutra 2.33)This can be applied to how a student views there practice
    *Sutra 1.1 Atha Yoganusasanum~Now begins the practice of yoga…implying “now”at this present moment…and even again 5 minutes from now ,when the student falls out of their yoga mind or the quality of the breath starts to suffer.This sutra implies an ongoing fresh start both on and off the mat…One of my favorites:))
    Many thanks
    Namaste xx

  13. This is a great resource to flip through when you need that extra bit of inspiration! Thanks

  14. Thank you – strange and wonderful how the universe delivers just when I’m stuck!

  15. This an amazing list, thank you so much!! Last night I did “hip openers” coupled with “patience”. Even though it is not on the list per se, it was reading this list that helped me get into the notion of themes, as I am quite a new teacher and I felt like did not have that many ideas.Thanks again!

  16. thank you. I have shared with 1000 members on the Yoga Australia facebook page :) Im sure they will be inspired! namaste x

  17. You are very welcome! Thanks for taking the time to come back and post your comment.

  18. You are welcome! I’m so glad you found what you needed at the right time. I have been so inspired by other teachers that I am happy to pay it forward.

  19. You are very welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment!

  20. Thankyou! My classes start again soon after the summer break and I just can’t get inspiration. Your list has now been book-marked! I am sure I will use it loads.

  21. Hello all,

    I am a naive Yoga teacher, just started teaching a month back. I am so glad that I stumbled upon this website. The resources and the comments are really helpful. That being said, I really would need help/example in understanding as to how I can use one of these themes in my classes.

    Thank a ton!
    John

  22. John, pick a specific theme that interests you & I will try to address your question.

  23. Thank you Joy! Hope it helps.

  24. I recommend the book “Nourishing the Teacher” – It has given me good ideas for classes :)

  25. So insightful and beautifully compiled! Thank you for the inspiration. :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Happy {November} Intentions | Daily Greens from The Green Yogi - […] too! Peace, love, integrity, strength, balance, discipline, etc. you can find a more detailed list here if you’re interested. All …

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: