Whether you are a brand new yoga instructor, a yoga student, or even a seasoned yoga teacher, we have all, at one time or another, felt the positive effects of a well-sequenced class. That feeling of “Wow! That was a great class” or “I feel amazing” you get after a class that has been skillfully crafted. On the other hand, you may have also experienced the unwanted effects of a class that felt disconnected and left you feeling off.
Now more than ever, it is important to understand our part as students and
teachers when it comes to practicing yoga. We are constantly bombarded by
images of what a “yoga body” should look like, what an Instagram yoga worthy picture is, or how great of a yogi you are based on the numbers of followers you have on social media or your ability to twist yourself into a
When it comes to practicing yoga we have to remember that yoga is more than a set of poses. Yoga is a practice that when it has the right foundation, it can help you heal.
Unfortunately, many people are getting injured from practicing yoga and while the reasons vary, we have to take a closer look at the role we are playing in our own practice and teaching.
Twelve years ago, I woke up excited to take a particular teacher’s class. This
person had been teaching for a while and I was ready to learn new things and anticipated an amazing yoga experience. I walked into the room and I saw that everyone was grouped towards the middle or back of the room leaving a huge empty area in the front. The teacher and students in attendance knew I was a teacher so I gave in and put my mat down right at the front of the room.
Within the first 8 minutes of the class, the teacher asked us to do a pose that
I knew my body needed a lot more preparation to get into it. Every part of my being was telling me “don’t do it”. The teacher called me out to get into the pose and I felt everyone’s eyes on me waiting to see me get into the pose… and so I did. I knew I just had done something that I was not warm enough and my body needed more time to prepare for. So I spent the next 52 minutes in pain.
The next day I could barely walk, but this incident taught me two important
1- Listen to your body. Only you know what your body is telling you.
2- The importance of a well-sequenced class and the impact that it has on your body and how you will feel during and after class is key.
In my experience both as a teacher and student, I’ve found that sequencing is more than just putting some poses together that we think are cool, creative, and fun. I believe sequencing is an art, it is the process of putting poses together that awakens and prepares the mind and body to safely enter and exit one yoga pose to the next.
I feel that the art of intelligent sequencing enhances the natural flow of Prana where each pose is meant to prepare, open and strengthen your body for the next pose to come. This type of sequencing goes beyond the physical poses by addressing the mental, emotional and even the spiritual aspects of the students in class.
As yoga practitioners, students, and teacher we can all improve the way we
practice and/or teach by going back to the basic concepts and build a strong foundation so we can feel empowered on and off the mat.
Why is sequencing so important?
As a student, when you are in the presence of intelligent sequencing:
- Your body responds to the positive effects of a well-sequenced and rounded yoga class
- You are well prepared to safely enter, sustain, and exit simple and more complicated yoga poses
- After class, you feel empowered, transformed and fully balanced at the physical, mental and emotional level
- You have the building blocks to help you deepen your yoga practice
As teachers, you are able to:
- Teach in Kramas or stages no matter the level of experience of your students
- Know how to safely cue more complicated poses
- Understand when to add specific counterposes during and towards the class instead of only adding counterposes at the end of the class
- Learn what poses to add or avoid when sequencing specific poses or combining a series of poses
For all the yoga teachers out there, I want to invite you to advance your sequencing not just by teaching more complex poses but by going to deeper
layers (not just physical) when teaching a class.
For all the present and future yoga students out there, I encourage you to take charge of your practice at home and in your local studio. Get to know your body, find areas for growth, and explore the reasons behind why you do what you do.
Join me for a weekend learning and practice immersion into the Art of Intelligent Sequencing at Inspire Yoga in Highland Village, Texas. This training course is part of our 300 Hour Advanced Teacher Training curriculum and is also open to all yoga teachers and dedicated yoga practitioners who have the desire to transform the way you approach your practice.
ERYT-500, International Yoga Teacher, Wellness Coach, and Speaker