Read Aadil Palkhivala's response:
The beginning of class is a time to bring people into the room and into themselves. Readings trigger the mind, and although they can be a way of taking the beginning student's mind away from the day-to-day grind, I prefer a concentrated focus on the breath. I also prefer not to start a class with guided imagery, since yoga is not so much about escape from life as the discovery of it.
I always give students time at the beginning of class to simply sit quietly, do some deep breathing, and let go of the day. I suggest that you guide your students through this process. Focus on deep breathing: Inhale joy and light, and exhale the day gone by. The more your students concentrate on the breath, and on using the power of the inhalation to nurture and the exhalation to release, the more potent their practice will be.
Traditional yoga classes always opened with three Oms followed by a mantra based on the teacher's lineage. So, in Iyengar classes, you will find a certain version of the Patanjali invocation recited at the beginning of every class. In Ashtanga, the first four lines will be different.
I like to start my Purna yoga classes with three Oms and the traditional Gayatri mantra, which is a mantra seeking illumination of the mind. Since the Gayatri mantra does not invoke Patanjali or any gods or goddesses, but rather only invokes light, it should not offend people with strong religious beliefs. For these reasons, it is my preferred way of starting a yoga class.
I end my classes with the Gayatri mantra of my teacher, Sri Aurobindo, followed by three Oms.
Occasionally, I will read to my students at appropriate times during class, and I always read from the work of Sri Aurobindo, or some inspirational poetry with a yogic message, such as Kipling's If, Longfellow's Psalm of Life, or Emerson's Brahma.
Recognized as one of the world's top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally-renowned Yoga Centers in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is the director of the College of Purna Yoga, a 1,700 hour Washington-state licensed and certified teacher training program. He is also a federally certified naturopath, a certified <a href="/health/ayurveda">Ayurvedic health science practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.