Yoga class sequencing

short warmup sequence

short warm-up sequence

Sequencing a yoga class is akin to choreographing a dance. Like a dance, a yoga class should have a sense of flow and feel coherent.  At the same time, it should target a variety of postures to open energy channels throughout the body.

There are hundreds of basic yoga poses. Add to to those, the myriad variations of these postures and teachers have thousands of postures to choose from. Sorting through these variations to create a fluid and safe class sequence can be a real challenge. This challenge, luckily, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with a basic framework and add variety from there.Your framework needs to take into account the following:

  1. duration of the class
  2. ‘advertised’ level of the class (beginner to advanced)
  3. actual level of the yogis that show up

Here is a sample 75-minute framework:

  1. 5 minutes of focusing where you coach general concepts (e.g. breathwork, bandhas, focusing). Use this time to help students set aside distractions, become aware of their breath and center in the present moment.
  2. 10 minutes of warm-up postures (e.g. gentle twists, cat/cow, supported lunges).  Use gentler accesible postures and a slow pace. Verbally cue mindfulness and body awareness.
  3. 40 minutes of energizing sequences (e.g.warriors, deep twisting, standing balances, arm balancing). Include challenging sequences for all students.  Consider the ‘advertised’ level of the class to be your high water mark.  Use poses that build up to, but do not overflow, this level.  To accomodate actual levels up to this high water mark, start with the beginner level version of a pose such as anjaneyasana (low lunge), then move to high lunge followed by crescent lunge.  Verbally cue that yogis can stop at any pose in the sequence.
  4. 10-15 minutes for inversions. Save advanced inversions, such as salamba sarvangasana (shoulderstand) and sirsasana (headstand), for later in class to ensure students are sufficiently warmed up. Alternatively, inversions such as viparita karani (legs up the wall) can also be used near the end of class to cool down.
  5. 5+ minutes of savasana.  Always include savasana at the end of class.  This gives time for the body to rest and for prana to circulate through the now unblocked energy channels.

Once you’ve come up with a sequence, the absolute best way to see if it really works is to get out your mat and give it a test drive.  You’ll know right away what needs tweaking.

For more inspiration, check out my sequences at omcircleyoga.com.

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