Teaching a Candlelight Yoga Class in a Fitness Setting

Posted by Dana Bender

Yoga Instructor

There are essential factors to consider before scheduling and teaching a gentle candlelight yoga class in a fitness setting. One reason for this is that not all corporate and commercial fitness centers have an intimate, quiet setting preferred for this class format.

For instance, a facility's group exercise classroom might be close to the main weight room or fitness floor of a facility. This will cause the soft music of a gentle candlelight class to compete against the slamming of weights and upbeat overhead facility music. Secondly, many group exercise classrooms neighbor a second group exercise classroom such as a cycling room, or larger functional space, which can often have classes going on simultaneously. In this situation, the noise and music from this class might distract participants in the yoga class.

Factors to Consider for Candlelight Yoga Classes

Listed below are essential tips to consider when offering a specialty candlelight yoga class in a fitness center environment.

1. Class Logistics

The first step in planning to teach a successful candlelight yoga class is figuring out the class logistics. More specifically, decide the best time of day to schedule the class. Often, candlelight yoga is best suited for an evening time slot because class participants want to end their day with mindfulness and relaxation, especially if they had a stressful or busy day at work. Hosting this class in the evening allows participants to unwind after work and head home feeling rested.

In addition to the time of day, it’s crucial to decide the optimal class length for the class. One recommendation is extending the candlelight yoga class fifteen minutes longer than the average class length to allow more time for restorative holds.

2. Props

In addition to class logistics, it is important to make sure to have enough yoga props to set participants up into relaxing or restorative yoga poses. Accessories that might be needed include:

  • yoga blocks
  • straps
  • bolsters
  • blankets

Check to see how many of each prop are available at the facility. Based on that, pick which props to incorporate into the class plan. If yoga blankets are not available at the fitness facility, consider using thick bath towels instead. It is important to note that yoga instructors can still teach an effective candlelight yoga class with or without extra props. The yoga poses selected, the sequence the poses are taught, and the relaxing cueing lead to a successful class offering more than the added props.

3. Adjust the Facility Schedule

Consider adjusting the facility's regular group exercise schedule so that other high impact or cardio-based formats are not going on at the same time. This is especially important if classrooms are near each other, or general facility noise can easily permeate into the group exercise space. Choosing to do so will create a quiet environment that will allow for a more pleasant class experience.

4. Consider Max Participants

In addition to adjusting the schedule, it is also essential to change the participant class maximum depending on facility space. For example, if a classroom usually holds 20 participants in a regular yoga class, consider reducing this to account for the square footage, the candles will take up.

Utilizing an appropriate number of candles will usually decrease the number of class participants. Doing so will help class participants not feel crammed and enjoy the ambiance the candles provide. For an ideal set-up, we recommend that you distribute candles evenly around the room with enough space between them.

5. Candle Selection

Although real candles provide a more realistic candlelight yoga experience, most facilities have policies against using them due to safety and risk management. For example, most facilities want to avoid someone accidentally knocking over a candle during class.

Before scheduling and teaching a candlelight yoga class, we recommend discussing policy and expectations with the fitness manager and/or staff and consider best practices. If real candles are not allowed, consider utilizing battery-operated LED candles instead. These will still provide the ambiance necessary for a pleasant candlelight experience without the risk.

6. Change Up Cueing

It isn't a secret that yoga can be taught in various ways. Power yoga, alignment yoga, and restorative yoga all require different cues and techniques for a successful class. Due to the relaxing nature of a gentle, candlelight yoga class, instructors need to slow down their cueing so that students can move mindfully with their breath.

Additionally, instructors need to speak with a soft and even tone of voice, which adds to the mood. Lastly, instructors need to cue the breath more deliberately. Remind students to breathe and help them mindfully link breath and movement. Taking the time to do this will allow students to activate their parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the relaxation response. This will enable participants to make the most of their time in class.

7. Plan for a Longer Corpse Pose

It is essential to allow more time in class for the corpse pose, also known as savasana, at the end of the candlelight class. We recommend including no less than a five-minute savasana at the end of a yoga class, depending on if the class is 45 or 60 minutes in length. Instructors should consider including a longer time-frame such as eight or ten minutes for the gentle, candlelight format. This will allow participants to completely relax at the end of the class and leave feeling rejuvenated.

8. Music Selection

Last but not least, it is important to create an appropriate music playlist for the class format. Softer, relaxing ambient music will be preferred over faster flow-based songs. It is also recommended not to include songs with lyrics because everyone interprets lyrics differently, and words can be distracting for participants. Instead, choose melodic lyric-free ambient music that demonstrates the desired atmosphere.

Every facility and situation is different, but it is important to keep some or all of these factors in mind for a successful, gentle candlelight class in a fitness setting.

Dana Bender

About the Author:

Dana Bender, MS, NBC-HWC, ACSM, E-RYT. Dana works as a Wellness Strategy Manager with Vitality and has 15+ years experience in onsite fitness and wellness management. Dana is also a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, an Adjunct Professor with Rowan University, an E-RYT 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher, AFAA Group Exercise Instructor, ACSM Exercise Physiologist, and ACE Personal Trainer. Learn more about Dana at www.danabenderwellness.com.

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