HOV – Hard or Helpful?

If there is one place that causes the most confusion in creating yoga inspiration with the Theme Weaver method, it is using the HOV.What is an HOV?HOV stands for Human Operating Value. An HOV on the highway is the lane reserved for Higher Occupancy Vehicles. You have the sense of fullness. In this case, an HOV is a term used to create a Higher Occupancy Human, or a human who is functioning with more.The HOV is a virtue, a value, a characteristic or a trait that makes us better. It could be Self-Acceptance. It could be having Presence. It could be Compassion. It could be Empowerment. It could be Trust. These are all concepts, or values, that if we had a lot of it we would be better off and possibly happier.What is a Theme?A Theme is a phrase or an idea or a story that makes your class inspiring. I have Themes on Garuda, the half-man, half-eagle in mythology, or Ganesha, the half-man, half-elephant god. I have Themes on Serena Williams and Looking for Love. A Theme can be anything you want it to be.Now here’s the thing: A Theme cannot touch the soul without an HOV.Wait. What?An HOV is a Highway to the HeartLet me try to explain using the example of Garuda."Garuda is a mythological creature who is half-man, half-eagle. The pose Garudasana is named after him, and today we will practice that pose."That’s not bad, it’s a start, but inspiring it is not.Now let me pair the Garuda myth with the HOV of Self-Acceptance:"Garuda was a man whose father wanted him to be a warrior. He was a terrible fighter, but he was an amazing runner. He was faster than the wind. Vishnu saw him run and gave him the wings of an eagle. Has there ever been a time when you did not appreciate your gifts? Let’s celebrate that we each have a special talent that is just waiting to be recognized with self-acceptance."Let’s try the Garuda myth with the HOV of Empowerment:"Once upon a time there was a man named Garuda. He was in the battle of the Bhagavad Gita but he was not a good fighter. It turned out that he was an amazing runner. So, Vishnu gave him wings like an eagle and he became the most powerful runner on earth. What super power do you have? Let’s celebrate our strengths on the mat with a feeling of empowerment today."Now let’s tell the story of Garuda with the HOV of Service:"Many years ago, there was a man named Garuda. He was not a great fighter; his gift was running fast. When the battle of the Bhagavad Gita came about, everyone had to fight to save the kingdom, but Garuda was a terrible warrior. Instead, he served his people by running fast to get more supplies. Without his efforts, everyone would have perished. Our talents are a gift from the Divine, but how we use them is our purpose. What are your gifts? Are you serving to the best of your ability?"Three for OneIn these examples, Garuda is the Theme. However, we have three completely different ideas you can use for inspiration using the HOVs of Self-Acceptance, Empowerment and Service.These classes are more meaningful, and are able to touch our souls rather than just saying the pose is named for the man.Do you have to have an HOV?No! You really don’t have to theme in yoga either. You can simply offer students the chance to move, to breathe and to sit in meditation and you will help them find a moment of bliss.However, a theme without an HOV often sounds trite and meaningless. It does not touch the soul and cannot raise our spirit unless we make it meaningful.This sounds hard.You can make your life easier by making a One-Word Theme which is a virtue or HOV. For example:“Today we will practice thinking of Compassion.” That’s perfectly fine. Perhaps you add an Anecdote, or a little story. Starting easy is better than never trying to theme at all.For more information, please see the book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, available wherever books are sold.Michelle Marchildon is the yogimuse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of three books on yoga. You can find her at www.michellemarchidon.com.