Theming your yoga class, theming your life…


Theming is an integral part of the class-planning process if you are a yoga teacher, whether it is done consciously or not. Some people prefer to prepare a short story or inspirational reading, others choose a word or anecdote to share. However, even if you’re not intentionally putting forth the effort to plan a theme for class, theming still occurs.

A conversation that came up during my training a few weeks ago had to do with the topic of theming. How necessary is a theme, even? What makes a good, or a bad, theme? Christina Sell dropped some wisdom on us that I found both comforting and challenging. Whether you choose a specific theme or not, a theme has already chosen you. The way that you speak, the words you choose to use, your sequence, your adjustments…are all part of who you are as a teacher. Compassion, grace, perseverance, and courage are all your themes, and if you teach as your most authentic self, every aspect of your class carries your theme.

One of the ways that I intentionally theme classes is with a playlist. I choose a word, or maybe a holiday, to base the playlist off of, and then spend hours swimming through music and choosing just the right combination and sequence. It’s one of my favorite parts of planning a class.

In the case of this coming Independence Day, I’ve created a playlist entitled ‘Freedom’. On it are songs that speak to Freedom from many different angles. They beg questions like “What is freedom to you?” and “What cost are you willing to pay for that freedom?” and more lightheartedly, “What would freedom look like if I were a Dragonfly?”

It’s not so important to me that the class even notices the theme of the playlist, but that the intention and energy that went in to making it is expressed.

I’d love to share my Freedom playlist with you, in honor of the 4th of July. Throw it on, and find freedom on your mat.


Editor’s note: This is a guest post from DCOY contributor Sean Devenport. She is currently completing her 500-hour RYT.

540217_698781320137845_1802831051_nA quiet and curious observer by nature, Sean was drawn to human psychology as an undergraduate at Ripon College. Determined to learn just what it is that makes people “tick”, she travelled the globe studying some of the ways we, as humans, can be – spending a semester on the golden beaches of Australia, and another in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, Sean returned home to discover the key ingredient  to understanding others was first to understand the Self. Since 2009, Sean has been a dedicated practitioner of yoga and life, dabbling in every style from Bikram to Kripalu. As a former dancer and dance enthusiast to this day, the fluidity and dance-like quality of Vinyasa was what really spoke to her soul. After studying under Gioconda Parker in 2011, Sean began teaching her own personal style of Hatha Flow, a melding of Vinyasa, the dedication to precision and alignment of Anusara, and Iyengar, and the core teachings of Hatha Yoga. Sean was highly influenced by William J Broad’s 2011 best seller The Science of Yoga, and strives to offer a safe and judgement-free environment for practitioners of every level to seek higher understanding of themSelves. Sean encourages students to pour the compassion and love that they cultivate for themselves on their mats, in to their every day interactions with others. Under the guidance of Gioconda and Christina Sell, Sean is currently pursuing her 500-hour teaching certification, The Alchemy of Flow and Form, at the San Marcos School of Yoga. Connect with Sean on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photo credit: Laura Sykora on Instagram

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  1. dyeager88 says:

    I love the theme of FREEDOM. That is my word for the year and what I try to help all of my clients achieve. Love it!

  2. Love it! I agree – your personal style and experiences imprint your teaching with a unique ‘theme’! I also like to theme a class around a certain energy or body part – like a ‘heart opening’ class (physically and energetically). Thanks for sharing!

  3. I also love the idea of freedom. Unfortunately, I don’t think we all say that we exercise that right. Somehow, we are limited in the things that we can and cannot do. And that’s the irony of it. For example, we work for 5 days a week but sometimes even if we’re at home on weekends, we still think about work, thinking about the things we need to do come Monday! LOL!


  4. Ok sean, I’m a dork, humor me: is there a way I can download your playlist to my computer or phone? Or is it only available through this link?

    • hi kumari! the playlist is only available through spotify, but you can download the app for free on your computer or phone. if you use some other streaming service, you can download the songs individually as well. enjoy! x

  5. Lee ying says:

    I’m not a yoga teacher, but I agree that when I do Yoga I love for their to be some kind of theme, wish my instructor had read this article!

  6. It’s nice to have an acceptance-themed class too.

    I am really digging your freedom playlist-I wish it was longer.


    • I agree – that’s a great theme! Thank you for the idea. The Freedom playlist was originally made for a 75 minute class, but maybe I will add a few more tracks!

  7. Try isometric exercises its weird but proven effective than yoga.

  8. Hi Sean. Great idea, awesome implementation. thanks for sharing the tracks too!
    If only more were as creative as you :)

  9. the listing is just out there through spotify, however you’ll be able to transfer the app without charge on your laptop or phone

  10. One should do yoga for mental and their physical peace. and yes Of course it is a great information about yoga.

  11. Great play list will be a great change to my next class , my first stumble across your blog looking forward to reading more :)

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  13. I’ve read a lot of books, newspapers said on Yoga.
    I learned that it is very good for health, but I have not had the opportunity to learn Yoga.

  14. Hey there! Thanks so much for sharing!! I love it!! :)

    I would like to share with you a friend’s dream of becoming a yoga instructor, she is raising money to help cover the expenses, this is the page:

    If you can’t donate then please help spread the word and share the page.
    Any donation is welcome and highly appreciated.
    Thank you!

  15. I love the playlist and finding new songs! Also love the article. Thanks for the inspiration. Check out my blog here for some yoga fun :)

  16. Great article! I am a huge fan of creating themed classes and workshops and find they work really well :) As a teacher we get to challenge ourselves to go deeper into that topic and learn more as we go along. Great work!

  17. First of all I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Many thanks!

    • That’s such a great question, David! I’ll tell you the best advice I’ve ever received regarding the matter ~ just do it! Even if it feels like you’re just rambling, consider that your opportunity to “clear out” anything that doesn’t feel useful, so you can get to what you really want to say. Just keep going!

  18. I absolutely love yoga. Thanks for the motivating ideas you shared in your post.

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