Strategies for Sequencing for New Instructors
You just graduated from teacher training, congrats!
Now you know all kinds of poses. You know the anatomical focus, the bandas, the structure and alignment.
But do you know how to flow them together so they make sense internally?
As with most things, there isn’t a formula to this, but there is an art to it. Think of the last Vinyasa classes that left you feeling inspired—what was it about that class flow that spoke to you? Did you notice a symmetry to the way the postures allowed your body to react both externally and internally?
Sequencing is a lot like cooking. There’s an instinct in great chefs. The way they combine ingredients and the amount of these ingredients, along with the time and technique in which they prepare their food isn’t haphazard. We’ve all had that transcendent experience of taking a bite of something, and sitting back to savor every unfolding flavor. Feeling that intangible satisfaction of knowing something very right happened in that kitchen. A wonderful yoga sequence can provide a similar satisfaction and nuanced reaction within.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating your sequence:
This is critical—this is where you, the teacher and practitioner, meet and play. It’s when you’re flowing and not over-thinking that some of the most unique and original flows will come about. You’ll know it when it happens because you, the practitioner, will feel it. Even if you only have ten minutes, practice on your own every day.
2. Don’t be afraid to experiment
Let your classes in on the joke. I’ve taken the “mad scientist” approach since I started teaching. Sometimes it’s magic, but often it’s a disastrous experience for all. If people fall out of poses, look confused or it’s just plain awkward, then you bag it and move on. You learn and you keep it interesting. The surprisingly good and conducive sequences that come out of experimentation are well worth the risk.
3. Go to a variety of teachers
We all fall in love with a specific teacher—their personality, style and rhythm just speak to us. We keep going to their classes over and over. Even if this teacher is super creative and always introduces new things, variety is vital. You will learn new things in a more expansive way the more people you choose to learn from. You can learn something from everyone. My personal goal is to go to a new teacher every week. It’s tough to do and sometimes it doesn’t happen, but when it does, it serves me well.
4. Read and research constantly
There is a plethora of information out there. Reading articles on anatomy, style, philosophy, newly developed schools, watching youtube, buying books, subscribing to Yoga Journal and yoga blogs is important. Keep self-educating.
5. Go to conferences and workshops
You can regularly go seek out opportunities to work with inspiring instructors, and learn things from their different styles. Workshops concentrate on something specific, so new ideas and techniques will abound.
6. Try other types of physical activity
I love yoga. That’s why I practice and teach it everyday. However, I’m always inspired by new experiences and find things in other disciplines I can bring into my practice and teaching. The only limits are self-imposed. Martial arts, whitewater rafting and dance have a lot to offer to any yoga posture. Inspiration may come from the most unexpected activities.
Lastly and most importantly, listen to your instincts and don’t compare yourself.
I had to get a tattoo on my arm to remind me to do this and every time I ignore it, I suffer.
You’ll develop your very own style, and you’ll do it in an authentic way that only you alone can deliver. This is ultimately what will make you an incredible teacher and sequencer. So get out there, and give others the gift of you.
Lara Falberg, E-RYT, is a yoga lover through and through. She also loves cursing, cooking, dog parks, frisbee, and spicy tea. But yoga is always on the brain, in the heart, and in the action. She teaches Vinyasa in Columbus, Ohio, and looks forward to returning to her adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia in October for the Southeastern Yoga Conference. Sequencing is one of her favorite ways to express herself. She’s not big on routine or rigidity. She changes her hair a lot.
Editor: Maja Despot
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