May 20, 2013

Up Your Teaching Game: Theme Weaver (Book Review). ~ Jennifer Braun

Teaching is a practice too!

Part instruction manual and part workbook, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga by Michelle Berman Marchildon is a guide for any yoga instructor wanting to successfully move from teaching an asana practice to teaching yoga.

Let me be the first to tell you that you need to be prepared to actually do the work. While the book itself is a mere 159 pages, do not be fooled by its brevity. Ms. Marchildon is a formidable task master. She asks you to create a yoga bio, a mission statement, and a yoga brand before you even step on your mat.

The good news is she holds your hand through the entire development process. She asks great questions to get you thinking about why you have chosen to do what you do, honestly shares her own bumpy journey as a teacher,  and provides awesome examples from teachers who have “done it well” to inspire you on your journey.

One of my favorite chapters is “Choose Your Themes Wisely.” We’ve all been there—either as a teacher or as a student. You are linking movement to breath and there it is right in front of you. Duck now because here comes the theme that wasn’t quite ready to be shared. In Theme Weaver, the author cheerfully recounts some of her own theme disasters and cautions you to never share a personal theme until “you can laugh your way to enlightenment.” I personally would love to have this advice printed on t-shirts to hand out post disaster classes.

It is a good thing for us that Ms. Marchildon is as wise as she is funny. In the chapter “Inspiration Takes Perspiration,” the author provides us with the her core philosophy: the Eight Steps to Inspired Teaching. I have to admit that I was doubtful at first. Only eight steps in a 12-step world? Could following her formula really bring tangible results? I am happy to report that I’ve been using the many tools I learned successfully for the past several weeks and have not only seen better attendance in my classes (c’mon, we all need to eat!) but have also felt a greater connection with my students. And that is the stuff as teachers that keeps us coming back.

My own personal comfort level is teaching on the One Word Theme. For those wishing to delve into deeper waters, Ms. Marchildon will walk you through the process for successfully creating a multi-part theme. She provides sample classes, encouragement and good advice on how to tie it all together.

If you are like me and not quite ready for a multi-part theme, don’t put Theme Weaver down quite yet. Skip ahead to the appendices and be sure to read “What Drives Students Crazy” as well as “Stupid Things Smart Yoga Teachers Say.” Your students will thank you.

So pick up your pen, your journal and a copy of Theme Weaver and prepare to bring your teaching to a whole new level, Rockstar!


Jennifer Braun is a marketing leader turned yogini, with an addiction to caffeine and a fierce passion for self-restoration. After a life-threatening illness, she began supplementing her physical therapy with Inner Bliss, her inspirational approach to yoga, which reaches for that special place between pleasure, work and relaxation. She is the Executive Director of Bliss Flow Yoga, a boutique yoga studio in Madison, Wisconsin. Off the mat, Jennifer can be found enjoying all that Madtown has to offer, including the Farmer’s Market, outdoor concerts, museums, restaurants and coffee shops. She tweets @jennifer_braun.


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Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby/Ed: Kate Bartolotta


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