Teaching Yoga with a Poet’s Heart
101 Guided Yoga Imagery Phrases


The following 101 guided yoga imagery phrases are just one of a treasure trove of yoga lesson planning resources available within The Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.

If a picture is worth a thousand words why aren’t more yoga teachers using “imagery words and phrases” in their classes?  Below are 101 ways to paint a picture in your student’s minds. Use them in your classes and come up with your own.


Guided Yoga Imagery: By Asana 


Backbends

“Feel each individual vertebrae of your spine saying goodbye and moving away from each other.”




Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) 

“As you rise into bow  feel like a sugar cube dissolving in a cup of hot tea.”




Breathing Exercises



“Imagine you’re made of butter and it’s a hot day. Feel yourself melting until nothing is left but the real you.”

“At the end of each exhalation observe your tension melting like ice cream on a hot day.”

“As you breathe feel your lungs receiving the air with a smile.”

Imagine you have a laser beam gadget thingiemagig. Laser your attention on any part of your body that needs healing.”

“Think of your breath moving like a snake, gliding up and down your spine with the greatest of ease.” {According to Tantra, kundalini energy rests like a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. When this dormant energy is given permission to glide up through the seven energy centres (chakras) you can’t help but shed any psychic debris and transform your inner world.”}

“Imagine your belly is a hot air balloon that inflates fully when you breath in…but when you breath out it gets struck by lightning causing your belly to deflate so fully that your belly button almost touches your spine.”

“Imagine the breath spiralling up your spine like a mini tornado.” 

Bridge Pose (Dwi Pada Pitham)

“Your thigh may feel like a tight rope right now, but as you stay in bridge pose feel the rope going slack.”



“Visualise your feet dropping anchors into the ground.”



“Imagine a magnet under your feet and hands. Feel secure and strong.”



Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

“Imagine a stack of bricks on top of each thigh. Feel the thighs sinking deep into your mat.”

Cat Pose (Marjaryasan)

“Lets do a bit of laughter yoga. Meow in cat pose and moo in cow pose.”

“Imagine yourself turning into a cat.  Arch your back towards the ceiling like a cat and look at your furry belly.

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

“Lift your arms as if they are a train barrier at a crossing.”

Child Pose (Balasana)

“Imagine a sandbag is placed on your hips.  Feel your hips sinking down.”

Tell your students that Child Pose is now called ‘Mouse Pose’, then say:  “I’m a big old cat  looking for lunch.”   Walk around and say, “Stay still and breath smooth and slow so the cat doesn’t find you.”

Cobra (Bhujangasana)

“As you’re lying face down, think of the bottom half of your body, from your pelvis to your toe tips, being like a tremendously powerful crocodile’s tail. One unit stretching back and down.  Now lift your upper body from that firm support.”

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) 

“As you plant our hands down, spread your fingers wide like ducks feet!

“Feel your hands sprouting roots.  Feel secure and strong.”

“Imagine a boxing glove nestled into your lower abdomen.”

“Imagine a hook attached to your sacrum and a pulley is pulling you to the ceiling.”

Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana) 

You could call this pose: ” Please No Photos Pose”.

Knee To Chest Pose (Apanasana)

Apana means downward-flowing life force.

“When bringing noise to knee, imagine wringing toxins from your body by visualising your body as dirty towel.  See yourself dunking that dirty towel into a sink of crystal clear water and then twisting and wringing the dirt out of it.  Each time you bring your knee to chest, you are wringing toxins from your body.”

Forward Bend (Paschimottasana)

“As you lengthen into a Forward Bend, imagine your pelvis becoming a fan that opens as you flow down.”

“Feel the entire lower back soften like melting ice-cream.”

“Feel as if your head is a floating like a balloon as you rise up.”

“Feel each individual vertebrae of your spine saying goodbye and moving away from each other.”

“Hinge slowly and calmly over a quiet pelvis.”

“Imagine you have a giant who’s 10 foot tall as your yoga partner.   The giant is standing behind you while you’re in folded over in Forward Bend and is leaning his weight onto your pelvis with his hands, while at the same time holding your heals down with one of his feet.”

“Imagine the Incredible Hulk leaning his weight down onto your pelvic rim, while firmly holding your heels down.”

“In Mountain with each out breath imagine your entire upper body melting like butter.  Now your upper body is soft, it’s time to hinge gently down over a quite pelvis.”

“Imagine a magnet under your feet. Feel secure and strong.”

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Many of these Mountain Pose imagery phrases can be used with other standing poses.

“Feel your feet firmly planted to establish a friendship with the floor.”

“Feel the exhalation flow down the centre of your spine and through the tailbone to become a tail.”

“Imagine looking at the soles of your feet from the floor’s perspective.”

“Imagine your feet growing roots.  Feel secure and strong.”

“Observe your legs becoming two heavy pillars. Feel secure and strong.”

“Picture yourself wearing a heavy chain mail cape and let your shoulders surrender under the weight.”

“Reach from not just your fingers but your toes up to the sun, then as you bend forward let your body drip down towards the core of the earth.

“Stretch your hands up and feel yourself becoming taller and taller, like Alice in Wanderland after drinking a bottle of potion.”

“Imagine you’re Alice in Wonderland and have just taken a drink from a bottle of potion that causes your feet to grow bigger and bigger with each exhalation.”

“When you open your feet and toes, feel as if they are a flower opening.”

“To lengthen the space between the ears and shoulders imagine a golden thread on your head pulling you up to the ceiling.”

“Imagine a magnet under your feet. Feel secure and strong.”

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Kapotasana) 

“Pigeon pose is a gift to the hips.”

Savasana 

“Allow your whole body to melt like an ice cube on a sunny day into the floor.”

“Before relaxing your brain may feel like a blackboard having chalk screeched across it. As your mind starts to focus on your breath, feel the chalk crumbling into powder.”

“Imagine you’re lying on top of a massive magnet that is gently pulling you into the floor.  Enjoy the feeling of surrender.”

“Imagine your attention is a puppy that’s just seen a squirrel.  Instead of running after the squirrel, remain still.”

“Imagine your attention is an over eager puppy on a lead.  Train the puppy (attention) to “stay” so it doesn’t run off.

“Instead of constantly going to your mental court and putting yourself on the dock to be judged by yourself, become an an unborn baby in your mother’s womb.  Let go of your ego.”

“Say silently to yourself – Welcome to the world of bliss.”

“Your head may be pounding like a jackhammer right now, but imagine the hands of a well trained masseuse giving you an Indian head massage.”

“Slowly start to open your eyes, printing a gentle smile on your face and feel the beauty within.”

“When thoughts blow through your head, observe them as though are clouds. Notice them and let them float by.  Then come back to your breath.”

Tree Pose (Vrksasana) 

“Feel your foot sprouting roots deep into the ground and the rest of your body becoming light as air.”

“Hold the pose for 6 full breaths.  That’s about as long as a traffic light in London [enter your own city].”

“Imagine your leg becoming as strong and rooted as a tree trunk.”

“Imagine a magnet under your feet. Feel secure and strong.”

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

“As you flow down into Triangle Pose, imagine a clamp on your back hip, holding it exactly in place.”

“Exhale through the heel of your rooted back foot to deepen the pose.  Feel secure and strong.”

“Imagine being held between two large sheets of glass, like being supported inside a large double glazed window.”

“If a student has their hips out of alignment, ask them to keep their flower petals in their own garden.”


Guided Yoga Imagery: A to Z


Alice In Wonderland
When stretching your hands up in Mountain Pose, feel yourself becoming taller and taller, like Alice in Wonderland after drinking a bottle of potion.

Anchors
In Bridge Pose, visualise your feet dropping anchors into the ground.

Balloon
Feel as if your head is a floating like a balloon as you rise up.

Big Foot
When in mountain pose, imagine your feet growing bigger with each exhalation…until you’ve turned into Big Foot.  Feel secure and strong (and a wee bit hairy).

Boxing Glove
In Downward Facing Dog, imagine a boxing glove nestled into your lower abdomen

Break Through
With a daily yoga practice, you have the power to break through and break with that which holds you back.

Bricks
In Butterfly, imagine a stack of bricks on top of each thigh.  Feel the thighs sinking deep into your mat.

Chain
In the same way that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, you are only as strong as your core.

Chain Mail Cape
In Mountain Pose, picture yourself wearing a heavy chain mail cape and let your shoulders surrender under the weight.

Chisel Away
Like Michelangelo’s statues, within each of us lies our authentic body and inner light; all we need to do is chisel away all that does not belong in order to reveal it.

Clamp
As you flow down into Triangle Pose, imagine a clamp on your back hip, holding it exactly in place.

Cultivate
Cultivate stillness in your life through a daily yoga practice.

Edge
If you want big results, find your edge in every pose.

Epicentre
Draw attention to the core your body, the epicentre of all movements.

Excavating
We soak up life like a sponge, holding tensions, fears, and anxieties in our body.  In yoga practice you reach down into all the nooks and crannies and hidden pockets of tissue, excavating all this clogged, unwanted stuff.

Fan
As you lengthen into a Forward Bend, imagine your pelvis becoming a fan that opens as you flow down.

Floor’s Perspective
Imagine looking at the soles of your feet from the floor’s perspective. 

Flower
When you open your feet and toes, feel as if they are a flower opening.

Friendship With The Floor
Feel your feet firmly planted to establish a friendship with the floor.

Gap
The gap between poses are poses.  Ease out of a pose the same way you got into it.

Gift
Pigeon pose (eka pada kapotasana) is a gift to the hips.

Glass
Imagine being held between two large sheets of glass, like being supported inside a large double glazed window (e.g in a balance pose such as Triangle).

Golden Thread
To lengthen the space between the ears and shoulders imagine a golden thread on your head pulling you up to the ceiling.

Goodbye
Feel each individual vertebrae of your spine saying goodbye and moving away from each other (e.g. forward bend or back bend).

Home: Relax and let your bones find their own way home. 

Ice cube
In Savasana, allow your whole body to melt like an ice cube on a sunny day into the floor.

Incredible Hulk
When in Forward Bend, imagine the Incredible Hulk leaning his weight down onto your pelvic rim, while firmly holding your heels down.

Light
With a daily yoga practice, the better you feel, the stronger you become, and the brighter your light will shine.

Liquid Quality
When you bring flow into your practice, you let go into the movements and create a liquid quality that inspires deep release.

Meditation In Motion
Flow sequences encourages meditation in motion.

Open A Rose
If you try to open a rose before its time of blossoming, you break off the petals.  So, too, if you rush your own unfolding you will cause greater harm than good.

Pillars
In Mountain Pose, observe your legs becoming two heavy pillars.  Feel secure and strong.

Pulley
In Downward Facing Dog, imagine a hook attached to your sacrum and a pulley is pulling you to the ceiling.

Quiet
Hinge slowly and calmly over a quiet pelvis (forward bend).

Rewire
Your yoga mat is a place to invite in stress and meet it head-on, to rewire your mind on a daily basis.

Roots
Exhale through the heel of your rooted back foot to deepen the pose (e.g. Triangle). Feel secure and strong.

Roots
Imagine roots growing through any part of your body that is touching the floor.

Roots
In Downward Facing Dog, feel your hands sprouting roots.  Feel secure and strong.

Roots
In Mountain Pose, imagine your feet growing roots.  Feel secure and strong.

Roots
In Tree Pose, feel your foot sprouting roots deep into the ground – rest of your body becoming light as air.

Roots
In Tree Pose, imagine your leg becoming as strong and rooted as a tree trunk.   

Roots
Observe roots under your feet growing deeper, wider and stronger with each exhalation.

Sandbag
In Child Pose, imagine a sandbag is placed on your hips.  Feel your hips sinking down.

Sand pouring
Imagine sand pouring out of your knees in the same plane as your toes.

Sinking
Sit bones sinking to the earth.

Sliding down
Feel your scapulas sliding down your back as you raise your arms.

Stream
Let go of tension from the backs of your legs, as you would throwing a stick into a stream.

Tail
In Mountain, feel the exhalation flow down the centre of your spine and through the tailbone to become a tail.

Train Barrier
In Chair Pose, lift your arms as if they are a train barrier at a crossing.

Wet Soap
Kneecaps sliding forwards like a bar of wet soap.

World
In Savasana, say silently to yourself, “Welcome to the world of bliss.”


Philosophy Imagery Phrases


Asleep
Don’t be asleep to who and what you truly are in this moment – perfect.

Awakened
Our ideal selves are already within us, just waiting to be awakened.

Brazilian Traffic Controller
Yoga is all about moving energy.  Imagine you are a Brazilian traffic controller moving your energy along.  If you stop moving the energy along the energy piles up into an energy traffic jam.  So, it is important to practice yoga daily even it’s just a couple of minutes.

Chasing
Stop chasing the illusion and be comfortable sitting quietly with the real You.

Cup
In mediation, empty your mental and emotional cup.

Domino Effect
Yoga is pure cause & effect; the smallest daily practice can have a profound domino effect as you journey through life.

Door
The only person who can open the door that leads to the light is You.  Have the courage to open that door and allow love and light in.

Fix
Stop trying to fix yourself and start being yourself.

Flow
Rather then fight against your problems, forgive and let go; resist less, struggle less, fight less, and flow more.

Fool
Any fool can get into a pose, but only a wise person can move out of it with conscious grace.

Forgotten
The goal is not to try and find yourself, for you were never lost. Forgotten maybe, but not lost.

Igniting
Feel your spirit igniting into an eternal flame of self love and approval.

Inner Peace
Make inner peace the only aim for your yoga practice.  Everything else is just a bonus.

Journey
A yoga practice is a journey with no end.

Life Changing
Put up a poster in your yoga class saying:  For average results, once a week.  For good results, three days a week.  For life changing results daily.”  (This can also be a mantra during your class).

Light
Mentally step out of the darkness and switch the light on.

Luggage
Our only task is to get rid of the luggage we’ve accumulated in life and accept what was there from the start: light and love in our hearts.

Mask
Soften your mask and let the real YOU step forward.

Mat
Live your yoga on and off the mat.  Most people forget the off part.

Medicine
If your mind or body is in pain, ask yourself this question:  “Am I practicing yoga daily?”  If not,  then maybe having a pain free body and mind isn’t something you want.   Be truthful with yourself.  Are you spending enough time cultivating your mind and body?  Truth is the only medicine that cures us.

Oasis
With a daily yoga practice, you carry an inner oasis of calm, even in the midst of the chaos of daily living.

Open
Wake up to your true nature, and the whole world will open up to you.

Path
When practicing yoga we give ourselves permission to find and walk our own unique path.

Peel Away
Peel away the layers that keep your wonder-filled body and inner light from shinning through.

Peeling Back
Embrace yoga as a practice of peeling back your layers.

Pond
Allow your mind to become as still as a pond.

Puppy
Think of your attention as if were a puppy that wants to run ahead of you.

Puppy
Train your attention by imagining that it is a playful puppy.  When it gets distracted, ask it to sit.

Root
The root of all misery is attachment.  Yoga teaches non-attachment.

See
Yoga helps you to see without judgement, ego or impatience.

Shine
You don’t need permission to shine. Just show up, shine, and be yourself.



Snow
Once become aware of cause and effect, your bad habits will dissolve like snow in the summer sun.

Squeeze
If you squeeze an orange you get juice.  If you squeeze your mind, what would you get?

Stuck
Tension is stuck energy.

Throw Out
Don’t follow me, follow yourself.  Take what speaks to you and throw out what doesn’t.

Unveil
Allow the best version of yourself to be unveiled.

World
As we think and act, so our world becomes.

World
Shift your inner viewpoint and your inner world transforms.


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George Watts

BWY Yoga Teacher at George Watts Yoga
This post was lovingly morphed into reality by BWY yoga teacher, George Watts. If you're looking for a treasure trove of yoga lesson planning goodness, take a quick peek at Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.

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