Learn how to design your own lesson plan and the sequence of techniques within a Yoga class.
Sequencing Your Yoga Class
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
There is a fine art to optimally sequencing the Yoga postures that you lead your students through during a class. There a number of factors to take into consideration when you are choosing a sequence of Yoga poses for your students. One of the most critical factors is taking into account the varied needs of your students. Although many teachers feel comfortable with a handful of set sequences of postures to lead their students through during a Yoga class, taking into consideration the needs of all of your students is critical to constructing an optimal krama or sequence of Yoga postures.
For instance, the most obvious factor when you are creating a sequence of Yoga postures for your class is the ability level and overall health of the students in your class. There are beginning, intermediate and advanced level classes offered at many studios and health clubs. There are also Yoga classes offered at many hospitals, retirement homes and schools. However, the composition of the students in your classes will differ substantially, depending on the patrons of that particular facility and the time of day.
For example, you may find that a Yoga class during the middle of the day caters more to young mothers who are either pregnant, or who are still recovering from child birth and are in the postpartum period of their pregnancy. These students may have solid intermediate practices, but may need a more restorative flow, depending on the trimester they are in or if they have recently given birth. Some of these women may also need to restore their physiological balance through the regular practice of pranayama exercises, in order to ward off postpartum depression.
Some other groups of Yoga students who may need a specialized sequencing of postures are students who are recovering from cancer or surgery, students who have limited mobility or are in a wheelchair, or older students who may not be comfortable working on the mat. Designing a class to fit these students’ needs in a safe, supportive and challenging manner is a critical aspect to the art of teaching Yoga well. Developing the flexibility to design different sequences for your classes, depending on the level of the students with whom you are working, is one of the main keys to becoming a successful and effective Yoga teacher.
In general, a beginning level student will have been practicing Yoga for one to two years. An intermediate level student will generally have been practicing for over two years, and an advanced student will have been actively practicing for six to ten years. Even if a student insists that he or she is an advanced practitioner because there are a number of advanced postures that he or she can do with ease, there are many nuances to a full, balanced practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques that take a substantial amount of time to master.
There are many ways to design a sequence of Yoga poses for a class. To set a tone for your class, it is helpful to take a few minutes to allow your students to set an intention or goal for their practice. Taking the time to set an intention will help your students to ground and be mindfully present in your class. The next portion of a class usually begins with a period of warm-up postures, such as Extended Child’s Pose and Cat-Cow Pose. You may also wish to include some warming breathing exercises, such as Bhastrika Pranayama, before moving on to a more active sequence of postures.
The next sequence of postures in a Yoga class generally includes Sun Salutations; standing postures, balancing poses, back bends, seated postures, inversions, supine poses, relaxation, and meditation. Some teachers include the repetition of sacred mantras into the relaxation or meditation portion of their class. The inclusion of the repetition of mantras will depend on the setting in which you are teaching and the group of students whom you are instructing. For more information on becoming a certified Yoga instructor, please visit: www.aurawellnesscenter.com.