Next Level Theming: Harnessing the Power of Self-study and Contemplative Inquiry

Join renowned yoga teacher and best-selling author, Barrie Risman and learn how to share wisdom teachings of yoga with authenticity and clarity. This course is for new and experienced asana teachers alike who are comfortable with teaching the basics of a pose, planning and sequencing a class, etc. but wish to take their teaching to the next level of impact and depth.

Barrie Risman Portrait

Course Description

Think of the most inspiring and memorable yoga teachers you know. Undoubtedly, they’re teachers who don’t simply share what they “know,” but who convey the essence of yoga through their teaching. Their words carry the power of their own personal and lived connection to yoga, one that goes beyond postural practice.

This the power of contemplative practice and reflective self-inquiry. As we enrich our understanding and experiences in yoga with the awakened teachings of our tradition, we can’t help but be changed and uplifted.

When we connect to the heart of our own practice, our teaching begins to carry the power of our understanding and experience. This is when we’re truly able to touch the hearts of students we serve.

Course Content

Spread over 7 weeks, this 20-hour course is designed for teachers who are ready to dive deeper into the vision and teachings of yoga. Out of the fruits of your own contemplative inquiry, you’ll learn how to create and present teaching themes that are down-to-earth and accessible as well as uplifting and inspiring.

You’ll learn how to authentically, effectively, and naturally inspire students to find greater meaning in their practice on and beyond the mat.

This live online training` will include templates and processes for incorporating teaching themes into your classes, as well as practical and experiential exercises, and tools for continuing to work with the concepts and methods presented.

Course Structure

Week 1: Introduction and Overview
Why theming?
Elements of an Effective Theme
How to create class themes: Overview of two approaches to creating class themes
Assignment: Create a class theme based on an element of nature, Part 1

Week 2: The Body as a Microcosm – The five elements of nature
Asana as sadhana
Awareness and breath as tools to deepen the experience of practice.
Assignment: Create a class theme based on an element of nature, Part 2

Week 3: The importance of Svadhyaya
The importance of Svadhyaya – Contemplative study
How to study the teachings
How to support students receive the teachings
Assignment: Create a class theme based on one of the yamas or niyamas

Week 4: Cultivating Virtues
Atma Vichara – The role of Self-Inquiry
How to support students in self-reflection
Assignment: Create a class theme based on a yogic virtue

Week 5: Balancing the Pairs of Opposites
Teachings and theory of pulsation
Exploring and embodying polarities to create balance in asana practice
Assignment: Create a class theme based on an aspect of pulsation

Week 6: Physicalizing the Teachings
What does it mean to approach yoga as an integrated practice?
Prana, the koshas and other models of the human being from the yoga tradition
Assignment: Create a class theme based on a meaningful teaching or concept from yoga or another sacred tradition

Week 7: Wrapping Up
Final Presentations
Review of topics covered
Next steps

Course Assignments

(subject to change according to group needs)
There will be assignments in-between sessions to practice preparing and presenting themes worked on in the course, with a suggested self-debrief format.

What will I Learn?

Participants will:

  • Learn and practice methods for creating clear and effective class themes
  • Learn and practice processes for contemplative inquiry into the teachings of yoga (Svadhyaya) and yogic self-inquiry (Atma vichara)
  • Reflect on and discuss foundational teachings of yoga and how they apply to postural yoga practice as a basis for creating effective teaching themes including:
  • Interconnection with the natural world
  • The koshas
  • The yamas and niyamas
  • Yogic virtues
  • Pulsation and balancing pairs of opposites
  • Articulate the insights that come from contemplative study and inquiry
  • Learn how to lead an effective theme-oriented centering at the beginning of class
  • Prepare and practice presenting class themes in their centering
  • Learn methods for effectively incorporating yogic wisdom into your teaching and received tools to continue to expand your skills in this regard.
  • Support and learn from fellow participants by offering and receiving feedback
  • Receive handouts and support materials to supplement your learning
  • Each 90-minute session will include a presentation, group discussion, small group work, and Q&A

Who is the course for?

To be eligible for the course, you will need to be a yoga teacher and have a regular or semi-regular teaching practice.


This course will be recorded and replay access to videos will be offered to all students for a limited time after the course ends.

Meet the Teacher

Barrie Risman is widely regarded as one of Canada’s most highly skilled yoga educators, teacher–trainers and mentors. Her best-selling book, Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice, is a guide for teachers and continuing students to deepen, expand, and integrate the benefits of yoga in their lives. She’s the creator of The Skillful Yogi, an online practice and study community of yoga students and teachers from around the globe.
Barrie is well known for her ability to convey the essence of the wisdom teachings of yoga with exceptional clarity, insight, and relevance to students of all levels and from all walks of life. As unpretentious and down-to-earth as she is wise and inspiring, Barrie teaches with a remarkable combination of rigor and challenge balanced with sensitivity, humour, and compassion.
After the Course

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On satisfactory completion of the course, you will receive a Yogacampus Certificate of Completion.