Energizing a yoga class

I had the privilege to be the substitute teacher for an undergraduate level yoga class at IUPUI yesterday afternoon. This is a half-semester class, and yesterday was the second time the class had met. The surprise of having a substitute teacher seemed to disorient many of the students as we started the class time by moving all of the desks and chairs out of the way to make space on the floor for our yoga class.

The fact that we were starting at 3:00 pm when everyone seemed to be in their afternoon energy slump probably didn’t help their lack of enthusiasm any. As we went through the centering and warm-up portions of the class, that lack of enthusiasm was almost palpable. So before we headed into our sun salutations, I led through several rounds of the Breath of Joy.

The looks on people’s faces as I explained it were rather comical; they ranged from skeptical to downright disbelieving. Fortunately, everyone gave it try. After several of these breaths, I was no longer leading them through them, they were moving into each new breath on their own. When we stopped, I looked around the room, and every single person was smiling—some with big grins verging on laughter, some with small grins that seemed to be escaping their attempts to suppress them—but they were ALL smiling. I pointed that out to them, and they looked at one another with surprise and not a few laughs.

The energy shift this brought to the class lasted throughout the rest of our practice. As a group, the feeling shifted from lethargy to interest and enthusiasm. And I’ve never been so mobbed with people asking questions and sharing their excitement about a class as I was at the end of our session when we were putting the desks and chairs back in place. In fact, four people came up to tell me (with surprised but sheepish delight) that they’d fallen asleep in savasana!

Yesterday was the first time I’ve ever included that breath in a yoga class, but it definitely will not be my last. What a simple way to energize a group who is having a hard time getting focused!

And if you haven’t yet tried this breath for yourself when you need a bit of energy, I encourage you to give it shot. The instructions are simple, and the energy boost is wonderful. I bet you’ll find yourself smiling after a few rounds too.