The one thing I took away from my Introduction to Psychology course freshman year is that people generally remember firsts and lasts.
Interestingly, I don’t believe this lesson was the first or the last!
For most yogis, blissful savasana, at the end of practice, is the perfect capstone. It leaves the beginning of the class as a space of untapped opportunity for a yoga teacher to set the tone and give students something that they can take with them throughout the practice and even off the mat.
Similar to anything you do, if you don’t have an intention or rough idea of what you want to get out of yoga, you’re not going to see much progress in your practice or in your teaching. In fact, I’m going to go one step further and suggest that it can be down right dangerous to engage in yoga without some sort of intention.
Without intention, there is no motivation, and without motivation, there’s no room for growth, for experience, for opportunity.
While I’m not advocating that you approach your mat and/or class every day with specific goals in mind, I do think that having some sort of outline in your mind about why you’re doing what you’re doing will give you some guidance, some strength and some structure. That idea, whether it’s simply a feeling or as deeply evolved as a specific goal, is something to return to in those extra difficult moments on the mat, and can often translate to fortitude off it.
I try to help my students find intention, or start to structure their vague feelings into more coherent ideas by opening each class with quotes. I hope that by giving them words of insight and often humor at the beginning of class, they’ll carry it with them and reflect on it through an extra difficult posture or tight spot both during practice and off the yoga mat.
But what quotes to use?
To be quite honest, I watch a lot of trash T.V. and read a lot of gossip magazines, so inspirational or deeply touching quotes might seem like they’d be few and far between. But such being the glory of life, it is often how you internalize things that makes them significant. I find that even little things that people say or do on a daily basis, even on 90210, can be really insightful and relevant. Sure, giving a quote or reading a passage from The Tree of Yoga is awesome, but pointing out that you can take something Snoop Dogg said and apply it to yoga—and life—just proves how deeply yoga can penetrate our every day experience. It also proves that he may be, disturbingly, much more insightful than any of us could imagine.
Anyway, feel free to take my top five quotes to open your yoga class and make your next one a powerful experience for each student to reflect upon and remember:
“Your first move is your best move.” ~ Snoop Dogg
“Fate will decide everything in the end, no matter the route you follow.” ~ Monica Ali
“Sometimes you eat the bar, and well, sometimes the bar eats you.” ~ The Big Lebowski
“Life is rarely about what happened; it’s about what we think happened.” ~ Chuck Klosterman
“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve and let the chips fall where they may.” ~ Fight Club
Known as the girl who could talk herself out of a paper bag, Khaleelah Jones (www.khaleelahjones.com) has always loved sharing her voice with others. An avid fan of reading, anything Francophone, travel and dance, you can usually find Khaleelah gazing longingly at travel blogs or in the yoga studio. Khaleelah currently lives in London working as a freelance writer and yoga teacher.
Editor: Brianna Bemel