The chakra system is a popular theme in yoga-asana classes. In a chakra yoga class, breathing, postures, and meditation practices are selected based on one or all of the seven major energy centers of your body.
👉 In this post, you’ll learn how to confidently incorporate and teach the chakras in your next yoga class.
If you’ve been hanging out with me for a hot minute you might be familiar with my six step strategy for designing yoga classes. For 18 years, I’ve used this proven blueprint to teach thousands of classes.
For those of you scratching your head, no worries. In the next section, I’ll explain each of the six stages and show you how you can bring in chakra methodology to create engaging and well-balanced classes.
step 1: pick a theme
When I’m training yoga teachers, I recommend selecting a theme for the yoga class to help guide their choices. Without a theme, it’s like eating at a restaurant buffet. So many options. A theme, however, limits your choices like ordering from the menu.
Since this post is about planning chakra yoga classes, we have our theme already. Right? Not so fast. There are seven chakras and each one has dozens of associations. So the possibilities are endless.
In this blog, I’ll outline the six steps based on the heart chakra theme. Other themes associated with the heart chakra are love, forgiveness, gratitude, and renewal. In the Chakra Yoga Class Planner, you’ll find suggested themes relating to each of the seven chakras.
step 1: centering
Once you’ve selected your theme (yay, heart chakra!), you’re ready to plan your centering.
During centering, also called grounding or setting an intention, the participants transition from the busy outside world to listen to the needs of their minds and bodies.
👉 Even though you may spend less than five minutes in centering, it’s an essential part of the practice.
In what posture do you want to start your heart chakra yoga class? You could start with child’s or easy-sitting because both flow effortlessly into a version of cow-cat.
Once you’ve selected your centering posture, look at how you want to guide your participants through the slow-down process. You could do a reading, a story, a poem, quotes, or affirmations. In the Chakra Yoga Class Planner, there are plenty of affirmations and quotes for each one.
You could also guide the participants through deep breathing (another fourth chakra balancing practice), a body scan, or simple relaxation.
step 2: warm up
In the second step, you’ll spend five to ten minutes warming up and preparing participants for the working and deep stretching portions. Choose postures to move them through their range of motion, allowing their muscles to warm and joints to loosen.
For your heart chakra, check out postures that:
- Strengthen your back, shoulders, arms + hands
- Expand/stretch your chest, lungs, and front of shoulders
- Deepen your breathing
Since this is the warm-up, choose asanas that are simple, but will connect or relate to the more challenging ones later in the practice. And it’s to you if you want to include sun salutations as part of the warm-up or not.
step 3: working
After the warm up, participants are ready for the more challenging aspects of their asana-practice. This is called the working stage.
While the aim is to create internal heat, build strength, stamina, and concentration, it doesn’t necessarily mean hot, fast, and sweaty. Even gentle classes have a “working” section.
Standing and standing balancing poses offer all of the above, and are therefore often used for a significant portion of working.
But standing poses are root chakra, right?
Most asanas “energize” or “innervate” more than one chakra, however, you can assign certain types of postures to a specific chakra. For example, standing asanas generally correspond to the root chakra. Backbends generally correspond to the heart chakra.
👉 Therefore, include standing postures that also have a backbend, like warrior one or reverse warrior.
The third step is the largest chunk of a yoga-asana class, taking up to 30 minutes of a 60 minute class. This can also be the stage where yoga teachers spend most of their time in planning.
One way to keep it all straight and make planning a breeze is to use the Chakra Yoga Class Planner.
The 60 posture cards are color-coordinated to their main chakra association as well as additional chakras the posture may stimulate.
STEP 4: floor work / deep stretch
Each step builds from the previous one and proceeds logically to the next. The working stage heats and loosens your muscles, and now they’re primed for deeper, static stretching.
In the centering and warm-up, you might have included seated postures, and the working section brought in standing and standing balancing. For this step, you can round out your chakra practice with prone (belly faces the floor) and/or supine (back faces the floor) postures.
During this stage, repeat elements from earlier in the class, this time holding the position for a longer period. Participants can then feel the difference in their bodies between the first and second time.
step 5: cool down
Where the warm-up prepares you for the working portion, the cool-down prepares you for final relaxation. Therefore, these last few asanas tend to be more restful and provide a logical transition to the last step.
During the cool-down, your body’s heat, heart rate, circulation, etc. return to normal, signaling your brain to begin another slow down process.
There are no hard and fast rules for the cool down asanas, but I have a handful of asanas I like to use the most at this stage. For a heart chakra sequence try bridge (heart), reclined bound angle, waterfall, happy baby, reclined twists (heart), and savasana with a bolster along your spine (heart).
With the cool down completed, you’re ready for step six.
STep 6: final relaxation
A yoga-asana class is only well-balanced and well-structured when you include all the steps, including final relaxation, also called savasana.
🙏 Please…never, ever skip savasana.
These last five to ten minutes of relaxation serve as much purpose as the previous sections. As your body returns to normal functioning, your “rest and digest” system is activated.
During final relaxation you can remain silent, repeat your quote or affirmations from the centering, or read a guided meditation. The Chakra Yoga Class Planner provides several guided meditations you can adapt as your own.
final tip on planning a chakra yoga class
As you dig in to plan your first (or 100th) yoga class, understand there are no right or wrongs when selecting your chakra theme and accompanying postures and practices. Confidence and competence springs from practice.