I promise this Yoga Class Theme will stay in your student’s hearts and minds forever…it just might be one of the greatest gifts they ever receive.

Theme Title How Heavy Is This Glass Of Water? Props Needed Glass & Water Theme Overview  The great thing about this theme is that it can be used in any yoga class, in combination with any other theme. By using a simple prop, a glass of water, you will teach your students one of the greatest gifts you can give another human being. You’ll be showing them how to put away the stress they have carried during the day. Chronic stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death Chronic stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. It’s time to get rid of it. Our bodies are fantastic at responding to acute stress such as being in a car crash. When that stressful event happens, the sympathetic nervous system gears the body for a “fight or flight” response that increases our chances of survival. When reacting to the stress event, our bodies release hormones that increase the heart rate; cause rapid shallow breathing, constrict blood vessels supplying digestive organs and tighten muscles. When the danger is passed, our body pendulum swings from “Fight Or Flight” mode to “Rest & Digest” mode. But for millions of people today, the pendulum doesn’t swing back to “Rest & Digest” mode. That is why the World Health Organisation has called stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century”. In New York and Los Angeles the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is recognised, so that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury and is compensated accordingly. Excessive Activity The problem is that most people are blissfully unaware of their stress. Stress has become so normal that most people aren’t aware of it. That may sound good, but unfortunately that stress has to go somewhere. That somewhere for millions of people is in self-destructive behaviour such as: excessive sugar/sweets, excessive food portions, excessive smoking, excessive alcohol, excessive TV watching, excessive irritability and excessive tiredness. Basically anything that you do “excessively” can probably be Sherlock Homed back to the cause of the self-destructive habit, which is “stress”. The more stress a person has, the more self destructive habits they tend to accumulate. 14,000,000 preventable deaths  We all know that if we “exceed” the speed limit too often, we’re going to get caught and have to pay a fine. The “fine” that humankind is currently paying is: 14 million people dying every year as a direct result of stress. And it is 100% preventable! Those 14 million people don’t have to die this year. Yoga teachers are on the front lines of this battle against stress The NHS can’t do much to reduce stress levels because it’s snowed under with dealing with the effects of stress such as: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents and cirrhosis of the liver. In 1948 the NHS was originally set up to help “prevent illnesses”. That time is long gone. The boat has been missed. It’s now the immense responsibility for us “yoga teachers” to give people tools to reduce their stress levels. Most yoga teachers won’t make much money from teaching. It’s very much a part-time job for most of us. However, teaching people who to “reduce”, “manage” and “put down” their stress is the single greatest gift that a human being can give. Have you ever wondered why there are so many yoga teachers? It seems that nearly everyone on the planet is training to become a yoga teacher. 15,000 new teachers registered in 2014 (in the U.S.) with Yoga Alliance, the largest yoga teacher training organisation. Amazingly just as many people (15,000 of them) completed teacher training with Yoga Alliance but didn’t register as teachers. The 15,000 qualified Yoga Alliance teachers took a 2 year teacher training course that costs $3,000, primarily to help them deal with stress. According to Yoga Alliance, the number of newly registered yoga teachers in the U.S. rose by an average of 18% a year from 2008 to 2014. That will be the case for the 1000’s of other yoga teacher training organisations around the world. It’s hard to know exactly how many yoga teachers there are out in the big wide world because there are so many micro teacher training organisations. Many yoga teachers who set up a yoga studio soon realise that to stay in business, they need to offer a teacher training program. All these newly minted yoga teachers is brilliant news! Why? Well, because each yoga teacher will help reduce stress levels in their community. Yoga teachers have an incredible opportunity to “reduce stress” which is the biggest killer and destroyer of lives humankind has ever known. Your chance of being killed by a terrorist is 1 in 3.5 million Around 32,727 people were killed by terrorists in 2014. That means your chance of being killed by a terrorist is 1 in 3.5 million. Now think about this… Your chance of being of being killed by stress is approximately 1 in 5. Let that sink in. Governments are spending hundreds of billions of pounds a year to reduce the chances of you being killed by a terrorist…and next to nothing on “reducing stress” in the workforce (where most of the stress builds up). That is why yoga teachers are so important for society. Action Plan Here are the 10 steps I took when implementing this yoga class theme in one of my yoga classes… Step 1 Watch This Video Watch this short YouTube video. http://youtu.be/Rxjp-fkuc-U Step 2 Glass & Water Take glasses with you to class (enough for all your students). If you don’t have access to water, bring water with you in a bottle. When you arrive at the class, fill the glasses with water. Step 3 Hold The Glass At the beginning of the class hold the water silently in your hand with a smile. Step 4 Raise The Glass Raise the glass of water. Everyone will expect you to ask the classic question: “Is the glass half empty or half full?” But instead, smile and say: “How heavy is this glass of water?” You will probably get answers ranging from 100 to 500 grams. When you’ve had several students guess the answer, reply something along these lines:
The actual weight of this glass has no real significance. What does matter is how long I hold the glass. If I hold it for a minute, it doesn’t feel so heavy. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll eventually start cramping up in my arm. If I hold it for a whole day, my arm will probably numb up and feel paralysed. In each case, the glass’ weight doesn’t change – but the longer I hold it, the heavier it gets. Stress and anxiety are like a glass of water. If we stress about things for a short while, nothing happens. If we think about them a little longer, it starts to hurt. If we think about them all day, we will feel paralysed – unable to do anything. It’s important to remember to let go of whatever stresses you. So…every evening, as early as possible, put away the stress you have carried during the day. Don’t carry things throughout the evening and into the night. Remember to put down your glass of water.
Step 5 Glasses For Students Ask your students to get a glass of water from the table (or ask them to hold onto their bottles of water…if you haven’t brought glasses to class with you. And if students don’t have bottles of water, ask them to imagine they are holding a glass of water). Step 6 5 Second Hold Ask your students to stand with the glass raised out in front of them for 5 seconds. Step 7 60 Second Hold Ask your students to stand with the glass raised out in front of them for 60 seconds. Step 8 5 Minute Hold Ask your students to stand with the glass raised out in front of them for five minutes. Step 9 Every Pose Ask your students to raise their glasses before, during and after each pose (for varying lengths of time). This will drum home the class theme. Whatever you do, don’t just ask your students to raise their glasses only once or twice. Why? Well, repetition is the mother of all skill. Keep the theme alive ‘n’ kicking by raising the glass before, during and after every pose. Yep, you can raise it during a pose if you’re teaching a Yin (static) pose. The point I want to get across is that it’s impossible to raise the glass too often…and it’s very easy to not raise the glass enough. Make sure you and your students raise the glass dozens of times during the class. Step 10 Put Down Your Glass Of Water Right click on the image below and click “save”. Put The Glass Down Print one copy. Nearing the end of the class, place it on the floor. Gather your students in a circle around the image (they’ll need to bring their glasses). Hold hands. Eyes closed. Sit in silence and contemplate upon the class theme…”putting down your glass of water”. After a few minutes have passed, ask each student to individually get up from the circle, place their glass around the image, then return to the circle. You can be the first one to do this. When everyone has done this, there will be lots of glasses that have been “put down” which is a great visual for the students. Resist the temptation to get all your students “putting down” their glasses at the same time. The hidden value in each student doing this symbolic act of “putting down” their glass in front of a crowd will deepen the emotive power of the theme, which helps imbed the theme into long-term memory. Now guide your students into a “drishti” practice – gazing technique. Ask them to focus their full attention upon the glasses. At the end of the class you could say something other than “Om Shanti” or “Namaste”. You could ask your students to say something like:
I will remember to put down my glass of water.” 
Optional Step  101 Yoga Class Theme Ideas Here are 101 yoga class theme ideas for you to get your creative juices flowing. Optional Step 1000+ Pre-filled Yoga Class Plans For 1000+ pre-filled yoga class plans created by yoga teachers from all over the world, take a quick peek at the Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.

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