The number one thing I hear from new teachers about their training is that they didn’t learn enough about sequencing.
I don’t think that sequencing is a mystery, nor do I think it is a secret to be guarded. Here is an easy formula for teachers of all skill levels. It will help you stretch your imagination and create new sequences you never thought you could!
1. Structuring towards a climax pose
A climax pose is the big moment, the big reveal! It’s the moment in class you want your students to feel the benefit of every pose leading up to it. Let’s see: if you choose Upward Bow (Full Backbend) as your climax pose, you’ll need to take time to warm up students’ shoulders and hips, and incorporate some smaller backbends. Maybe even a wrist warm-up would be useful.
2. Integrating counter poses
For each pose there is a counter pose. Consider integrating counter poses into your flow. For example, offering a twist after a backbend. This is probably the least exciting part of sequencing, but it can help to create a subtle and complex class.
3. Choosing a class structure
Grounding // Warm-up // Standing Poses // Back bending // Cool-down // Savasana
Above is a general class structure. It is certainly not perfect or universal, but for our purposes it is a good starting point. You might have a favourite class structure from your teacher training, your preferred yoga oeuvre, or from your own practice. This works as a blueprint of sorts: a basic structure is there, but to create a class, you must fill in the specific poses.
4. Similarities in arms
Asanas are all incarnations of each other. The most straightforward way to access a graceful flow is to identify these similarities and sequence from there. Triangle, Warrior II, and Halfmoon all have the same exact arm position, so they’re an easy combination. Or what about changing the arm position for some standing poses to Gomukasana or Garudasana arms, then just flowing from position to position keeping arms the same?
5 Similarities in legs
Just like identifying the similarities in arm position, identifying similarities in leg position can open up a world of sequencing. For example, Warrior II, Reverse Warrior, and extended side angle all have the same leg position, so combinations of those are a no brainer!
6. Rhythm and speed
Now, let’s get a little more advanced. Switching up how many breaths you have the class hold in each pose can create a more complicated way of sequencing. If you only taught three poses for an hour, you’d have infinite possibilities for different sequencing. A great example is Dancing Warrior (moving between Reverse Warrior and Extended Side Angle on each inhale and exhale). The two poses are clearly identifiable from each other in a hold, but combining them together they become a new entity.
Okay, boy, now we’re getting somewhere! The Ph.D. course in sequencing is basing yours on a theme. Now, when you usually hear the word “theme” it has something more to do with a quote at the end of class. I love those types of themes, but to get your maximum use out of a physical theme, you’ll need to choose something very physical. Some example of useful themes for sequencing are: chakras, influence from a set form (Ashtanga, Bikram), or twists.
Let’s put it all together by filling out this handy dandy chart! Say we’re doing a heart chakra class:
- Choose your climax pose
- Identify poses to warm up to the climax pose
- Identify their counter-poses
- Fill the poses into their appropriate pose category
- Flesh out the rest of class using similarities in arms, legs, and rhythm and speed
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Ed: Renée Picard