As a yoga student, before I started teaching, I would often think about the how poses were sequenced in terms of how my body felt going through the sequence. I would notice whether I felt warmed up enough for a pose or if it felt too cooling or heat building in the moment. There wasn’t a lot of consideration beyond acknowledging whether or not it felt good and if I thought it was fun. As a teacher, I am amazed at the creative sequences I see other teachers put together and have a vast appreciation for a well-sequenced class.
The most challenging aspect of teaching yoga, for me, is deciding how to sequence a class. The studio I primarily teach at, O2 Yoga, always promotes a ‘pose of the month’ to teach. While I sometimes feel constrained by this, more often I am thankful to have a starting point for my classes. Consider a single pose as the culmination of a class to build your sequence around. For examples, visit the ‘Class Notes’ section of my website.
I keep the following points in mind.
- physically prepare students to enter the culminating pose and poses that come before it – Remember those anatomy classes in teacher training? Protection against injury is my primary concern.
- engage students to have fun – Try to stay away from really common sequences so students avoid going on auto-pilot.
- challenge students at all levels – Use preliminary poses that can serve as the modified version of a more challenging pose. For example, dolphin and pincha mayurasana.
- maintain a sense of flow – Each pose should flow efficiently into the next with minimal need to fidget.
Yoga class sequencing is a huge topic. I’m always looking for books or workshops that cover the topic. I haven’t yet to find one that I’d wholeheartedly recommend. Instead, I’ve been favoring experimenting on my mat and practicing with a variety of teachers, who are often more than willing to share ideas. Though there is much buzz on the general yoga community about sequence copyrighting, I feel lucky that there is a strong sense of sharing in my yoga community.