CREATE a class 

 

First things first, when you come to planning, acknowledge where you are physically, emotionally and mentally and go from there. Second, know and teach appropriately for your audience. Plan a class that is safe and accessible for the group. Then let go of preconceptions about your students and classes and apply observation and assessment tools throughout when teaching, which may lead your plan slightly somewhere else. 

A sequence is the order in which things are arranged, the pattern that is created by the logical flow of pieces to create a whole. Deciding not only which specific asanas should be practiced during a class, but the order in which they will be performed to suit the intention or purpose.

 

  • Understand how to prepare students both anatomically and systematically for the flow of your class.

  • Explore the sequences of various attended classes. 

  • Understand the rational and benefits of these styles and sequences.

  • Learn to use this information to intuitively create our own organic, transformative, multi-dimensional yoga flow.

  • Learn to build classes around peak poses, chakras, philosophical themes, a category of asana, an alignment principal...

  • Learn to sequence both energising and relaxing classes depending upon your students needs!

  • Study parallel poses. Learn how to introduce advanced postures through a more simplistic and attainable flow.

  • Learn safe and effective therapeutic principles to incorporate in your class sequencing. 

 

Having a Purpose creates balance within a yoga practice; physically, energetically and mentally. It provides a direction for the students in order to enhance their experience whilst preventing injury.

 

Sequencing a Class is Similar to Writing a Piece of Music You can make many different yoga practices from the same group of asanas, but the order in which they are practiced will define the experience you will have and how you’ll feel when you walk away from your mat. Composed of individual asanas and pranayama practices, each part is important in and of itself, yet a part of the entire composition. Classes are not randomly placed together, the sequence of each asana placement and the length of the pose, as well as the combination of postures together are all orchestrated to create a resonant whole. Each class that you sequence will have it’s own purpose, inspiration and feel, much like a piece of music or a song creates a certain feeling or experience in the listener.

MOVE FROM SIMPLE TO COMPLEX

MOVE FROM DYNAMIC TO STATIC EXPLORATION

CULTIVATE ENERGETIC BALANCE

INTEGRATE THE EFFECTS OF ASANA

 

ORGANISED plan

 

Teachers who are well organised remember what they did in the previous class, continue where they left off, and know and remember the health concerns or challenges of regular students. Their classes flow well, with smooth sequences, helpful cues, and interesting themes or anecdotes. Good organisation gives the teachers themselves the mental space to plan classes that keep things fresh for them as well as for their students.

 

KEEP A TEACHING BINDER

 

Helps keep teaching fresh and inspired. Your binder is where you can store all your ideas, teaching notes, stick-figure drawings, client notes, theme ideas, and thoughts about yoga philosophy and life in general. Having a binder keeps all your ideas at your fingertips. On days when you are not feeling inspired, you can open the binder and get an idea for class.

PLAN considerations

 

Time of Day: The time of day for the class dictates the energy the class may want to create:

 

  • Early morning: Gentle warm up leading into standing poses; leading into backbends and inversions to leave the practice more energised

  • Mid-Day: Consider a more balanced sequence, and note whether you have eaten prior to the practice or will eat afterwards.

  • Evening: Consider sun salutations and challenging standing poses early in the practice, leaving plenty of time for relaxing poses towards the end of the practice to get ready for bed.

 

Client Population: It is essential to consider what type of clientele you will be serving. Have ready in your mind Plan B to accommodate persons who may come to your class who might not be in your typical client demographic.

 

  • Have modifications and variations available so every one feels successful. 

  • Stick to the description provided by the studio. If the timetable says Ashtanga, the students should take responsibility for knowing the type of practice they are entering, the instructor should stay true to the format described. 

  • Gender / Age / Group specifics 

 

Season or Geographical Location: Be aware of the seasons and the energetic and emotional effect they will have on your students.

 

  • Hot/Humid climates/Summer : Add more forward bends and seated poses to balance the external heat and promote cooling.

  • Cold Climates/Winter: Practice sun salutations, backbends and inversions to energise and ward off seasonal depression due to longer nights and shorter days.

 

Length of Practice: Consider the amount of time you have and instead of jamming in too many poses, be sure to have balance within the practice

 

  • Always include breath-work and warming the body

  • Keep Savasana to no less than 5 minutes

 

PACING

& holding asana

 

There is no correct pace nor correct duration for holding or transitioning between asana. But pace and duration are important considerations as they give character to a class making it more or less accessible or challenging. Keep exploring yoga with an open mind and intuitive body rather than always following preconceived prescriptions. i.e Bikram 30secs per pose / Ashtanga 5 breaths.

 

PACE :

 

 

 

 

Factors to consider in pacing a class are : 

 

  • the basic elements

  • class definition 

  • student ability 

  • class theme

  • time constraints

 

DURATION :

 

 

 

 

Factors to consider in duration of asanas :

 

  • how the student is playing their edge

  • how much strength is required

  • the type of stretch / stretch technique

 

INTEGRATION

 

Create space for rest

Create space for renewed self assessment

Apply principles of counterpose 

Offer energetically balance sequence 

Savasana 

Create space for meditation 

Moving off the mat

POSE - 

counter pose 

 

The intention of after-movements, or counterposes, are to bring the body back into some semblance of balance after a period of stress and minimise any potential negative effects of previous asanas :

 

After a forward bend, you want to minimise potentially negative effects of either; strain in the back from forward flexion, tension in the front of the body from contraction, excessive inward focus, de-emphasis of inhalation etc. Traditionally, a counterpose is:

  • A movement in the opposite direction from the main movement just performed.

  • More gentle than the previous posture. Not to the same depth nor for the same length of time.

 

A counterpose is not meant to be another full posture but rather a posture to restore the body to equilibrium. For example, after that forward bend (flexion), a mild extension of the spine is suggested. After a deep extension, a mild flexion is offered. A deep twist to one side is followed by a gentler twist to the other side. Combining this realisation with the idea of balancing the body through complementary movements leads to the following philosophy:

  • After strengthening an area, stretch it a little.

  • After stretching an area, stiffen it a little.

For example, we build stability and strength in the spine while keeping it as close to its neutral position as possible and stiffening it. We build mobility by reducing the load along the spine and stretching it. If we have been doing a lot of one, a good counterpose is to do a little of the other.

 

When we hold a posture for a long time, thereby applying a stress to the tissues, creep often occurs, which makes the body a bit longer and a bit fragile. Before placing a lot of dynamic stress on this area, it is wise to tighten it back up a bit. Conversely, if we have been strengthening an area, a contraction of the tissues often occurs, reducing our range of motion; we become stiffer. Before attempting large, dynamic movements, it is wise to stretch out that area a bit. If you have been strengthening the spine while keeping it relatively neutral, do some easy mobilisation exercises, such as Cat-Cows or gentle twists. If you have been doing a lot of mobilisation exercises, such as Cobras or Forward Folds, strengthen the spine with postures such as Plank Pose.

basic arc 

FORMAT

 

The basic arc formula is great for new teachers, apply the stretegy of Hatha Pose - Next Pose and you cant go wrong. The class will be balanced, allowing the students to progress steadily and simply, from one place to another, with every sequence having a clear beginning, middle, and end point.

 

1 Centering Grounding-Meditation 

2 Warm Up Movements

3 Flow-Sun Salutation

4 Standing Poses

5 Abdominals (can be omitted)

6 Arm balance (can be omitted)

7 Backbends (contraction then leverage)

8 Twists 

9 Forward bends and hip openers

10 Inversions

11 Savasana-Relaxation

 
 

CENTERING

We rarely enter the yoga class in a “neutral state.” Our bodies have been biased into a particular position all night/day. If the class is first thing in the morning, we've likely spent the last 8 hours lying down, still so may feel a little rigid. Our heads likely clearer - when we sleep our thoughts get put on hold. If the class is in the evening we may feel a little tired, been sat all day flexed, and have the whole day swirling through our minds. 

 

We start by setting an appropriate pose, one that we can comfortably spend a bit of time in, that feels good, that counters the effects of the position we've been in prior. Somewhere we can easily breathe in and feel relaxed in so we can settle and turn our focus inward onto self awareness and cultivate presence. 

A centering exercise doesn’t need to occupy more than a few minutes, but at the end of the period the students' minds and bodies are quiet and ready to proceed with the class. During centering students' attention will drop away from everyday concerns and be redirected instead on themselves and the class to come. There are several ways to align the class. You might choose to encourage students  to focus on:

  • Some kind of attention to the breath

  • A distant sound. 

  • Body scanning.

  • Setting a personal intention.

  • An empowering philosophy. 

  • A reading, a chant or poem.

  • Music. 

DELIBERATE INTENT

 

Set your intention of giving the best class possible, attracting in the students that will get the most benefit from your teaching and watch how things unfold.

 

SEQUENCING

strategies

HATHA POSE - NEXT POSE

PATH TO PEAK

LADDER FLOW

WORK IT - REVERSE IT

THEMING

REPLAY + ADD FOCUS

REPEAT POSES

PROGRESSIVE SEQUENCE

DIFFERENT ENTRIES

POSE ORIENTATION

HATHA pose -

next pose 

 

There are several ways of presenting poses. The simplest is to teach one pose to both sides and then proceed to the next pose. 

The sequence can be represented at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4.

For example you would teach warrior 1 to the right (yoga poses are traditionally taught on the right first), then to the left, then proceed to side angle to the right and the left, then triangle to the right and left. 

This method looses a little fluidity and can be a little stop-start but it’s great for beginning students as well as beginning teachers, as only one pose at a time is being dealt with.

To add an element of fluidity or transition,  a second basic way to teach asana is to teach one pose at a time still, but linking a few poses together slowly moving from one to another all on one side, before repeating all on the other. 

 

The sequence is represented as R 1-2-3-4, L 1-2-3-4.

 

For example, warrior 1, side angle and triangle to the right, a forward bend, and then warrior 1, side angle and triangle to the left, followed by a forward bend.

 

Again each posture can be held and so taught thoroughly, with plenty of time for beginner students to explore, get to grips and for teachers to assist, adjust, or maintain calm and in control of the class, rather than potentially getting lost in erratic flows.

path to PEAK EXAMPLE FULL CLASS HERE

 

Rather than creating a random sequence of postures, it is important to place postures in relationship to each other in a way that makes each one more accessible. The basic principle is to move progressively from simple to complex actions that leads to the deepest and easiest possible exploration along the entire path to the peak pose, and eventually to savasana. 

 

Like learning to walk before running, yoga students benefit from first learning basic postures before attempting complex ones, playing the edge with each breath along the way. This gradual learning process ideally involves anticipatory experiences along the path giving students the opportunity to successively explore the various alignment forms, energetic actions, and other qualities of engagements they will be asked to apply at the peak.

 

By introducing the elements of the peak in simpler form, you will help students to grasp intellectually and to embody consciously the more complex combinations of elements found in the peak pose. 

 

Breaking down the peak posture into its elements, then apply the analysis to crafting a specific sequence leading to the pose.

 

  • What needs to be open?

  • What needs to be cooperative in allowing that specific opening?

  • What needs to be stable?

  • What are the sources of that stability?

  • What are the alignment principles of the peak pose?

  • What other postures have the similar or same alignment principles?

  • What are the energetic actions of the peak pose?

  • What other postures have the same or similar energetic actions?

 

Once at the final approach to the peak, it is important to create space for students to completely relax, balance the breath, and tune into their personal intention in the practice. This is a good time to remind students that the practice is not one of attainment of idealised physical posture, but a process of self exploration, self acceptance and self transformation. Reinforce the concept of playing the edge encouraging students to abide by the core principles of sthira sukham asanam. 

 

Since they will be students with different abilities and interests, offer appropriate modifications and variations. As you develop your skill and comfort as a teacher you will increasingly be at ease in offering multiple options to the class while remaining responsive to what is happening with each student in the class.

LADDER flow EXAMPLE FULL CLASS HERE

A ladder flow is a sequencing strategy where poses are stacked one after each other per sequence. The first time you add a new posture, the posture can be held to allow the students to understand it, and the next time around, the same posture can be passed through, held for a shorter time, and onto the new added posture, building complexity into our sequence. This method allows for a lot of rhythmic, flowing work, creating a strong, sweaty and fun practice.

 

This sequence is represented as  R 1-Vinyasa  L 1-Vinyasa, R 1-2-Vinyasa L 1-2-Vinyasa, R 1-2-3-Vinyasa L 1-2-3-Vinyasa….

 

For example : The first flow could have Chair Pose - Vinyasa, then the next flow you could have Chair followed by Crescent Lunge - Vinyasa, then the next flow might have Chair, Lunge, then Warrior3, etc.

 

You can teach a ladder flow for an entire hour and only have to incorporate 10 poses. The repetition can help students get deeper into their postures and is easy to remember as an instructor.

work it - reverse it EXAMPLE FULL CLASS HERE

 

Here, you go down a path, once you've worked it and reach the end, either (A) turn around and teach the poses on the second side in the reverse order from those on the first side. or (B) simply, make the same path back home

 

This sequence is represented as (A) R 1-2-3-4, L 4-3-2-1. or (B) R 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 L 1-2-3-4-3-2-1

 

For example : (A) Warrior 2, Triangle, 1/2 Moon - Wide Leg Fold (turn around) - 1/2 Moon, Triangle, Warrior 2. or (B) Warrior 2, Triangle, 1/2 Moon - Wide Leg Fold - (same leg repeat) 1/2 Moon, Triangle, Warrior 2 then repeat for the other side. 

 

This method is a bit different and will often attract the students' attention, however it is not appropriate for all sequences. If your sequence (A) is going from easy to difficult, on the second side you will be starting with the most difficult pose and proceeding to the simplest so careful planning is required. Going from triangle to side angle to warrior 2 is a different experience than going the other way, as you are moving up against gravity so you may want to repeat the whole thing twice so you feel the entry and exit on both sides of the body. If you sequence it as in (B) you will also naturally be doing the postures twice per side. Repeating poses in reverse can change your students perspective on those poses, you might notice different things than you did on your way forward as you come back out —even though you are taking the exact same route. 

 

You may plan a multiple of different paths or one large one where the peak is at the centre of the class, then you'd move back through in reverse order, as if rewinding the poses. In effect, you are creating a “bilaterally symmetrical” class whose second half mirrors the first.

 

This strategy needs a good memory, especially if you're planning one large flow, to make sure you follow the exact steps back. You can always have your lesson plan near by.

THEMING

 

SUMMARISE: Gets the point across without time consuming details.

UNIVERSALISE:  Ties the theme into the larger teachings of yoga.

PERSONALISE:  Makes the theme easy to relate to and relevant.

PHYSICALISE:  Connect the theme to the asana and the experience.

 

Weave a theme into your instructions

 

- Language : key adjectives or adverbs that describe the feeling state of the embodied experience of the theme. For instance, perhaps your theme is about finding balance. Ask yourself, “when I am balanced, how do feel emotionally?” Maybe you feel steady or grounded or relaxed,  at ease or even perhaps confident. These key feeling words can be incorporated into class and combined with your key actions to help remind the students about the qualities you are emphasising that day.

- Commentary is when you give a teaching about your theme while the students are in the pose. This is a good technique when students are in an easy to hold posture like down dog or child’s pose or when they are standing in tadasana between postures.

- The conscious use of metaphor makes use of the posture, the alignment or some immediate classroom dynamic to create a teachable moment.

 

CREATE A THEME

 

• Write about a challenge you had in the last year.

• How did yoga help you through it?

• What was the primary lesson you learned?

• How does the primary lesson you learned relate to a philosophical yogic teaching?

• How does the primary lesson you learned relate to some key action, outcome or aspect of asana?

 

Write a theme presentation. Summarise your challenge in 2-3 sentences. Summarise the lesson. Tie it into a teaching and then into asana.

Example:

 

(Summarise the Challenge) “Over the last year I was having challenges of being caught between my personal beliefs and feelings and the demands of my job and my professional obligations. I started to feel pulled in a lot of directions and I felt like I was a bit trapped.”

(Personalize) ”The more I spent time in meditation and practices that helped me focus on myself, I started to see what I truly wanted for myself was to live in my truth and not try to keep everyone else happy.”

(Universalize) “The teachings of yoga tell us that there is a place of deep wisdom inside us - they call it the buddhi and it's the source of intuitive wisdom that lives in the heart of each of us. Yoga is really all about getting quiet and still enough to tune into our own wisdom so it can show us what is best for us.”

(Physicalize) “Today we are going to do a practice of drawing inward physically and taking a pause in between each poses to simply be with ourselves, to focus on our own wisdom.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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