Closing With Grace
Closing with Grace: End Your Class to Complete the Connection
Your yoga class is a vehicle for student transformation when it has a clear direction. This moves from the opening announcements through the practice, and it ends with Namaste. In this post, I describe six steps to creating a welcoming class in the first two minutes. Here, let’s explore how to build a strong container at the other end of class by closing with grace.
You don’t have to follow each of the steps outlined below. Include the elements that come to you naturally. If you don’t feel comfortable chanting, don’t chant; students will register your discomfort. Think of the progression below like the liturgical elements that mark the conclusion of a church service: the doxology, the benediction, the recessional. They may vary from denomination to denomination, from class to class, but there is comfort in the regularity. Each element helps students move mindfully from the mat back into the world, underlining the connection of breath, body, and mind we develop in practice.
Students will achieve a satisfying closure to the class when their expectations are first set, then met. Before you fall quiet in meditation or savasana, let them know how long they will be staying and what the cue to move will be—a bell, a gong, your voice. From the time you begin to talk them out of savasana, provide students with an orderly sequence of events. This sequence should be one that makes sense to you.
Revisit the Theme
If you included a theme in class, invite an open-ended exploration of how it’s landed. This could be a physical or an emotional cue, and it can be as simple as “We did lots of hip work tonight; take a few breaths to observe the sensation in your hips” or “We practiced letting go; take a few breaths to continue letting go of what you can.”
Align with Intention
Invite students to remember the intention they set at the beginning of practice. Give them time to recommit to that original intention, or to rephrase it into a new resolve that works off the mat.
After they connect with their own intention, students may like to direct intention outward by offering a dedication of the practice. This could be to a person, an ideal, or to everyone everywhere. It’s a nice time for chanting, if you enjoy chanting; Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, May all beings be happy and free, is a sweetly appropriate chant.
Finally, move on to collective dedication. We seal this as we recognize each other with namaste. If your class is comfortable with it, encourage students to look at each other as they say namaste.
Call to Action
The end of class is not the time to put a lengthy sales pitch, but an until-we-meet-again farewell makes sense—something along the lines of, “I’ll see you next week!” or “We’ll be investigating these themes all month, hope to see you again,” or “If you liked that approach to [any pose, meditation, or theme], I’ll be offering a workshop along similar lines . . .” Finish with a thank-you and move to the door to say goodbye or answer quick questions as students leave.
Offering a consistent closing is just as important at making students feel welcome as opening class well. As you develop your skill, you’ll strengthen both ends of the container to build a strong space for student transformation.
Learn more about Sage Rountree, prAna Ambassador & E-RYT 500
Sage Rountree is an internationally recognized authority in yoga for athletes and an endurance sports coach specializing in athletic recovery. Sage is the author of six books, including The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga and Racing Wisely; her latest, Everyday Yoga, will be released in spring 2015. An E-RYT 500 and director of the Carolina Yoga Company’s 200 and 300 hour yoga teacher trainings, she also offers yoga teacher training courses online at sageyogateachertraining.com.