By Jenny Park
Sequencing is important in any yoga class. There are many different variations of proper sequencing, with no one specific sequence superior to another. Sequencing makes a difference in the way the class flows. It would seem awkward and tedious if students were asked to sit, stand, lay, stand, sit, and so on. A good flow of poses lends gracefulness to a yoga class, making it feel smooth and natural. Instructors must carefully plan sequences, as well as anybody wishing to practice yoga in their home.
General sequences begin with poses that warm-up the body’s muscles, then continue to progress to more advanced poses, and end with poses that cool-down the body and mind. Poses are usually performed one time, but for a variation, a sequence might repeat poses two or three times with emphasis on a different aspect of the posture each time. Some sequences might also include one pose that is returned to again and again. Sequences can vary based on the difficulty level of the class, or the individual needs of the students. Like other aspects of a yoga practice, there is no right or wrong way to sequence, but rather a best way for each person.
When developing a general sequence for a diverse class of yoga students, begin with warm-up and centering poses. Choose a warm-up based on the theme of the class. If the class focus is to relax and unwind, spend more time breathing and meditating. If the focus is to invigorate, spend more time warming up the whole body and getting the blood flowing. Ask students to sit in a comfortable position, and lead a basic pranayama, or breathing exercise such as alternate nostril breathing, or deep belly breathing. Continue for a few minutes. Begin warming up the body with some slow neck rolls and shoulder lifts. Move to an all-fours position to warm up the spine with cat-cow pose, or plank. Progress to downward dog or a forward bend and continue by performing a sun salutation to get the blood flowing, or balance poses to work on focus and concentration.
As you progress into the “heart” of the class, keep similar poses grouped together. For example, complete a series of standing poses like triangle, warrior, and forward bend variations before moving to seated yoga poses. Then perform all postures that originate from a seated or all fours position, like lunges, sitting forward bends, or hip openers. Then you can end with lying down poses like cobra, spinal twists, and bow pose. Finish with corpse pose and another round of breathing to complete the class.
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