How to build a yoga sequence?

Creating a well-balance yoga class is essential for any beginner yoga classes. (Image via Unsplash /Logan Weaver)
Creating a well-balance yoga class is essential for any beginner yoga classes. (Image via Unsplash /Logan Weaver)

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned teacher, building a home yoga practice can seem intimidating. From selecting poses to remembering what you did on the first side of your sequence, a lot is going on in a yoga class.

No matter which class you attend, you'll spend most of your time holding the same poses. Once you get comfortable with the basics, creating your sequence is a snap. If you're looking for inspiration, you can even try our various yoga challenges available online.

If you are learning how to build a yoga sequence, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, Hatha yoga is all about breathing and alignment, while Vinyasa yoga is a more intense flow that involves more movement and less stillness.

Yoga for beginners: How to build a sequence

Yoga is ultimately about discovery. That's why the instructor is called a "teacher"—they're meant to impart knowledge and guide you toward self-discovery, which you can then apply to your own practice. Every person who practices yoga has their own form of expression, and yoga is an individualized experience.

1) Poses

When choosing poses for your sequence, consider how you want the students to feel after class. If you want them to feel more open in their hips, focus on poses that open their hips. If you want them to experience more abundance in their lives, focus on heart-opening poses that direct energy outward.

To ensure that your class is well-balanced, include poses from each of the following categories: twists, standing poses, seated poses, supine/prone poses, backbends, inversions, and restorative poses.

It's helpful to think about a peak pose for your class. This will be the most challenging pose of the class. If you know what you want this pose to be, it's easier to choose which poses to focus on earlier in your practice. For example, if your peak pose is Half Moon, you may want to think about hip opening and balance earlier on in your practice.

2) Flow

When designing a yoga class, it's important to build from one pose to the next in a way that makes sense. It wouldn't make sense to go from seated poses straight to Tree, for example. Instead, work your way up from low to high poses by doing low lunges before Warriors or Cat/Cow to transition from seated poses to Down Dog.

When creating your plan for a class, be sure to include transitions. The way you get from one pose to the next can be just as important as the poses themselves.

3) Safety

In addition to having a logical flow, you also want your students to be properly prepared for each pose. You would never start a class with Full Wheel without properly warming up the spine.

Warm-up is essential for any yoga class. (Image via Unsplash /Jade Stephens)
Warm-up is essential for any yoga class. (Image via Unsplash /Jade Stephens)

As a yoga instructor, it is important to know about anatomy and the human body in order to keep your students safe. If you’re practicing yoga in your own at home, be sure to listen to your body and pay close attention to what it tells you. If something feels off or uncomfortable, think about what you could do differently in order to protect yourself.

4) Start with Centering

Remember that yoga is a subject related to the physical aspect of the human body. Preparing your body and mind for yoga practice can be helpful in engaging in some simple breathing exercises. For a new student, you might suggest a short meditation or breathing exercise of inhaling in and exhaling out for about 10 minutes. This can help your students collect and concentrate on their awareness.

Breathing exercises is the foundation of daily yoga practice. (Image via Unsplash /Chris Ensey)
Breathing exercises is the foundation of daily yoga practice. (Image via Unsplash /Chris Ensey)

To begin the sequence, you can have students practice breathing exercises to cultivate awareness and presence in their bodies and minds. Some of these exercises include Lion's Breath, Alternate Nostril Breath, Sama Vritti, Kapalabhati, and Ujjayi.

5) Cool Down

Remember, the class doesn’t end at the peak pose. Students often need to wind down and counterbalance their bodies. What poses would counterpose or balance the action of your peak pose? If you have already practiced Warrior Three at your peak, then you will not need to do more hamstring openings.

You’re probably prepared for hamstring stretches for the entire class. Instead, it may feel really nice to stretch the outer hips and inner thighs, which are actively engaged in supporting the balancing and squaring your hips. Choose 3-5 poses that help unwind your body from its efforts.

Key Takeaway

A yoga sequence is a great way to investigate your practice, as well as progress it. For students new to yoga, a short, simple sequence is suitable to help them learn the basics; however, an experienced student may benefit more from a longer, more dynamic version that includes different variations of each pose and subtle internal work.

Incorporating chants and pranayama into your practice during Savasana (corpse pose) can be particularly beneficial for your focus during this incredibly important part of yoga.

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Edited by Soniya Y
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