Yoga classes are a piece of work… they don’t manifest out of thin air, come through your voice as a clear message, and then translate through a person’s movements.
At least for this yoga teacher that doesn’t happen (but I do applaud the teachers who make that happen).
This is what actually happens – I plan. I prepare. I take notes. I draw inspiration from others. I plan some more. And then I teach a damn yoga class, and usually a great one at that!
So whether you’re new to teaching, needing some fresh inspiration, or simply want to create your own at-home yoga sequences – then this post is for you!
* PSA – This post is brought to you by WorkoutLabs/Yoga Cards which aims to demystify the sequencing of yoga poses + teaches you the benefits and proper alignment for each yoga pose card. And since we love great companies with equally great products, here’s an exclusive discount just for you – use code JJ15 for 15% off your order.
The purpose of this post is twofold –
- I want you to learn and understand how to properly sequence a yoga class.
- I want you to invest in this product in order to learn more about the yoga postures and expand your personal/teaching practice.
How does that sound yogis?
I’m assuming you love the sound of that idea…. so let’s get into it!
First and foremost – how the hell does one sequence a class anyway?
To sequence a proper yoga class, one must first understand the dynamic flow of how each posture connects to one another. It’s not enough to simply shout out postures in hopes that they will fluidly move together. If you do this, I ask you to kindly stop (we need to prevent injury, not encourage it).
Instead, please grab a pencil and your favorite notebook, and let’s get to work.
My recommended method of learning how-to sequence is this:
- Start and maintain an at home yoga practice, record your sequences after, and learn from yourself.
- Draw inspiration from your favorite yoga teachers/classes and do your best to remember or imitate the sequences taught in class.
- Use the awesome Yoga Cards from WorkoutLabs to do the work for you (don’t worry yogis, it’s not cheating, it’s intelligent assistance).
Let’s touch on that last bullet point, just for a moment…
The brilliance behind these so-called Yoga Cards is that they include 5 easy-to-follow sequences to help build a class foundation. The sequences included are:
- Dynamic Warm-Up
- Destress & Refresh Yoga
- Firm & Tone Yoga
- Center & Focus Yoga
- Energize & Awaken Yoga
As you can see in the photo below, the cards clearly list out each posture in the recommended order. You can plan your classes verbatim to this or use the sequence as inspiration/addition to your current class structure.
Whatever the case is, the cards are incredibly helpful for new and seasoned yogis, especially us yoga teachers!
So now that we’ve covered how to learn sequencing, let’s dive into the WHAT.
Each yoga class should follow a general formula.
Below is my go-to formula, but feel free to expand upon this:
- Centering – bring the students into the space.
- Warm Up – gentle stretching to awaken the body.
- Sun Salutations – these can be varied and infused with anything your heart desires.
- Standing Sequence/Maximum Postures
- Backbend Sequence
- Hip Openers/Forward Folds
- Final stretches + Savasana
Once you start using this formula, the next step is to link the yoga postures together in an intelligent, creative, and soul-moving way.
Below are three sequence examples I use in class:
- Cat/Cow for 5-10 breaths.
- Sunbird with added core work (elbow to knee connection).
- Sunbird or Baby Chatarunga push-ups.
- Thread the needle – both sides.
- Cat/Cow for 5 breaths.
- Downward facing dog.
Sun Salutation Flow:
*Please follow the traditional format of a sun salutation and only change the chaturanga to upward facing dog transition.
- Lower down to the belly, do three rounds of cobra pose, push up to plank, and take it back to downward facing dog.
- Lower down to the belly, cross ankles and bind arms behind the back, inhale to come up, hold for a few breaths, exhale to release down, switch the cross and bind, and repeat.
- Come to plank pose and do mountain climbers for 30 seconds to a minute, then take it back to downward facing dog.
- Come to plank, drop the knees, lower down into puppy pose, then take it back to downward facing dog.
- From plank pose, lower into forearm plank and hold, then lower into sphinx pose, push back up to plank, and then find downward facing dog.
- Warrior 1 – Humble Warrior – Warrior 3 with bound hands – step back & open to Warrior 2 – Reverse Warrior – take a vinyasa.
- Warrior 2 – open to Goddess Pose – Prasarita Padottanasana – Skandasana (each side) – pivot back to the front and come into runners lunge – open arm twist – Vashistasana – take a vinyasa.
- Crescent pose – take eagle arms and lift forearms towards the ceiling and lower arms down towards the thighs (repeat this a few rounds), keep the eagle arms and take eagle pose top of the mat – transition into figure 4 (offer arm balance variations here) – forward fold top of the mat – offer a vinyasa.
- Utkatasana (top of the mat) – lower into Ardha Utkatasana – offer crow pose or lower down into Navasana, then suggest a vinyasa from here.
Whoa – that was a hella lot of yoga talk up above!
If your head is spinning, don’t worry, mine is too. Take a moment, process all of that asana lasana stuff, actually do the movements I’m suggesting, tweak what you like and don’t like, and then start flowing!
* If you’re a total rookie to it all, check out this article to get started – How to Create a Yoga Class.
I promised this article was twofold… and I know we’ve covered a lot but stay with me yogis (I believe in you)….
The 2nd point to this article is WHY these cards are so crucial to furthering your knowledge as a teacher and yoga practitioner.
Whether you teach or not, I find it incredibly helpful to know and understand the proper alignment of a pose, the Sanskrit name, the benefits, and what grouping the posture falls into.
Once again, the Yoga Cards don’t disappoint.
Each card displays all of the below:
- The posture’s name in both English and Sanskrit.
- A picture of the posture plus the coordinating alignment cues.
- How to perform the posture.
- The benefits of the posture.
Yogis – I truly hope this brief overview cleared up confusion, answered questions, and inspired you to start learning or improving upon your yoga sequencing skills.
Again, this is just an overview, like the tip of the iceberg.
I ALWAYS recommend seeking out another teacher in-person, taking a workshop, or purchasing a helpful product. Please never feel intimidated by this practice, it’s a lifelong journey for a reason.
Until next time yogis – xoxo.