The Anusara Sadhana:  The Art of Storytelling

How to Tell a Story with Confidence

Written by Gianni Chávez

As Anusara Yoga teachers, we have the privilege of guiding students on a journey of self-discovery and transformation through the practice of yoga. One powerful tool and skill we learn and develop during our 200hrs and 300hrs Trainings is The Art of Teaching with a Theme, one of Anusara’s unique “hallmarks”. This ability allows us as teachers to, not only offer a yoga class, but a profound yoga experience. 

As a child, I was utterly captivated by stories of every kind—tales, fables, myths—they all beckoned me into realms of magic and wonder. Through these stories, I discovered the beauty of mystery and the richness of the human experience. They weren’t just stories; they were windows into the very essence of what it means to be human.

“Teaching with a Theme” holds a special place in my heart because it allows me to infuse myths and all the mysteries of our human experience into storytelling. It’s a journey where we get to blend the magic of ancient tales with the depths of our shared human experience, weaving a tapestry of wonder and insight that invites us to recognize our true essence in every class

So, What is Mythic Consciousness?

Mythic consciousness refers to the innate human capacity to connect with archetypal symbols, themes, and narratives that transcend cultural boundaries and resonate with the universal human experience. Mythic stories have the power to evoke deep emotions, stir the imagination, and awaken a sense of wonder and awe within us. By tapping into this collective unconscious, we can create a profound and transformative experience for our students.

The Power of Storytelling in Yoga:

Storytelling has been an integral part of the yoga tradition for thousands of years, with ancient texts like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra serving as repositories of timeless wisdom and spiritual teachings. In the modern yoga classroom, storytelling serves as a powerful tool for conveying abstract philosophical concepts and practices in a relatable and accessible way, helping students to connect more deeply with the teachings and integrate them into their lives.

The Power of your Story

Recognizing my story has been part of my inner work. Thanks to this practice, I have been able to appreciate not only my brightest moments but also honor my darkest moments.

Each of us harbors a powerful story. This life experience exposes us to countless situations where we connect with universal archetypes (mostly unconsciously and rarely consciously).

It is important to remember that all archetypes (characters) potentially exist within each of us and that there are certain archetypes we access more easily.

The practice is not only to recognize the archetypes but to observe the conditions that arise for these archetypes to appear. That’s where the nectar and power of your story (learning and teaching) lie.

8 Practical Tips to craft and share a powerful story

  1. Title Your Story: Yes, your story deserves its own title! This serves as your guiding star, keeping you focused and on track throughout your narrative. Craft a short, keyword-rich title that acts as a roadmap for your storytelling adventure. The title does not need to be shared with your students, is for you and only for you.
  2. Set the Scene: Every great story needs context. Paint a vivid picture that transports your audience to the heart of the action. Create a narrative that captures the essence of your chosen story and engages the imagination of your students. Engage their senses with metaphors and sensory details that evoke memories and emotions. Draw inspiration from mythology, personal anecdotes, or even current events to bring your story to life.
  3. Know the Characters and what they represent: Each story has different characters, get to know them and remember well what they represent to you. Typically, every story will have a protagonist, an antagonist, and supporting characters. The dilemma occurs in the situation where the protagonist and the antagonist meet, and often these dilemmas are simplified thanks to the help or advice that the supporting characters offer to the protagonist.
  4. Weave the Theme Throughout the Class: Integrate your theme seamlessly into all aspects of your class, including the opening invocation, asana sequence, and closing meditation. Use storytelling as a thread to weave together the different elements of the practice and create a cohesive and immersive experience for your students.
  5. Introduce the Dilemma: This is the crux of your story, the moment of challenge and transformation. Set the stage for growth by presenting a dilemma or conflict that tests your protagonist’s mettle. It’s through overcoming this challenge that they discover their strengths and abilities.
  6. Harness Heart-Qualities: The heart holds the key to navigating life’s challenges. Infuse your story with heart-qualities like compassion, courage, and resilience. These qualities serve as seeds of wisdom and become the anchor that guides your narrative throughout the class. Use one or a maximum of two Heart Qualities. If you are using two, remember to choose two qualities (Shiva & Shakti) that are either mutually complementary or opposite complementary to create contrast.
    1. For example:
      1. Complimentary: Faith and Devotion or Courage and Love
      2. Opposite: Stability and Freedom or Gentleness and Fearlessness.
  7. End with an Invitation to Learn: As your story draws to a close, leave your audience with a powerful message of inspiration and insight. While your story may contain universal truths, each listener is living their own unique journey. Use heart qualities as an invitation to remember and celebrate the inherent potential within us all.
  8. Encourage Reflection and Integration: Encourage them to cultivate awareness and mindfulness both on and off the mat, and to integrate the teachings into their daily practice.

Check out the next video where Gianni shares these wonderful Tips for telling a powerful story (video in Spanish). 

Get ready to be inspired, and learn some awesome storytelling techniques! 

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