Friday, May 22, 2015

Tools for Yoga Teachers When Sequencing a Vinyasa Flow

There's a lot that goes into a yoga class. The postures... the music... theming... it all makes a difference in how the yogis in the room experience the practice.

Careful, intelligent sequencing is important in order for a class to feel effortless and nourishing to the body.

As a yoga teacher, it can be challenging to come up with a variety of vinyasa sequences. What can you do to get inspired?

One tool I love using when I'm creating a vinyasa yoga flow is the Yoga Sequencing Deck by Jillian Bobowicz. The deck features 100 double-sided cards showing yoga poses and transitions based on Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga poses.

It's great for any level class, and especially useful if you're a visual learner. Plus, it's fun! :) I was recently joking with my friend and fellow teacher that we should play a game with our yoga friends where you have to draw a card and do the pose :)

This tool would be great for yogis who are in teacher training, too. You can consider the pace of a class and the anatomy of your students as they move from pose to pose.

Are you memorizing a sequence like the Baptiste Flow? Try something like this to mix it up, and/or quiz yourself on how you'd cue students into the pose.

My other advice for yoga teachers who are looking to mix up their flow is to always practice what you want to teach, to see how it feels in your body.

Yogis are all different shapes and sizes, and at different times our bodies crave different movements. Some days we want to move fast, and other days, slow. Some days we want more challenge and other days we want to rest more or linger whenever a pose feels good.

I don't always practice what I'm going to teach the day of my class, but I try my best to do the flow in the week or so prior to teaching it. Sometimes doing this will reveal a change that's needed; swapping the order of a few poses, leaving something out of the flow, or starting over and doing something totally different.

I also recommend trying new yoga classes with teachers you've never taken before. This isn't really so you can copy exact sequencing or re-invent what you do... in fact, I encourage you to resist the temptation to compare yourself or judge another's teacher's class as 'better' or 'worse' than yours. We all teach a little bit differently, and that allows yoga to be accessible to more yogis!

Just notice the way a class is structured. Notice if there is a 'peak' pose in the practice, or a particular transition that feels really sweet in the body.

Notice the moments when you are challenged, or the moments when you fall so fully into present awareness that you stop caring what's on your to-do list or what emails you have to reply to or what you're going to fix for dinner.

How did the teacher bring you to that place? How were the yoga postures arranged so that the sequencing felt effortless?

Above all else, be gentle with yourself. Teaching yoga is a learning process. Every pose offers wisdom. Every class is an opportunity to share, to connect, and to generate peace.

Your class is wonderful and impactful whether you teach it effortlessly or you mix up your transitions or forget one side of a pose.

What matters, what your students feel, is when you show up fully and give what you can. When you breathe with them and support them in their growth and healing. And when you are willing to notice what sequencing worked, and what wasn't great -- and take that knowledge and apply it to your next class.

Continue practicing, feeling the flow move through your body, enjoying the poses.


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