Mastering the Art of Sequencing
July 31, 2023
Mastering the Art of Sequencing
Written by : pathofyoga
Sequencing a yoga class is both an art form and a science, it’s an opportunity to weave together movement, breath and intention to create transformative experiences for our students.
However, it can too easily become time consuming and uninspired, and this is where having structure can aid creativity and intention. Below we’ve set out some key points to consider whilst planning your classes, to help you create the best experience for your students, without you becoming bored or burning out.
Embracing the Rules:
Rather than haphazardly creating sequences, sustainable and effective sequencing requires knowledge and understanding. While there isn’t a single “right” way to sequence a class, mastering the foundational rules can provide a framework upon which we can build and innovate with creative freedom, which will allow you to create purposeful and impactful sequences, infusing intention and creativity into your classes.
Here we will explore a series of questions to consider when crafting a yoga class, to enable you to cater to the unique needs of your students and leave them feeling empowered and fulfilled.
Know Your Students:
Your students are the heart and soul of your yoga class, and their needs should guide your sequencing decisions. To create a meaningful experience, it’s essential to consider their physical, cultural and situational requirements, and design your sequences accordingly. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
>> Age and experience: Consider the age range, or experience of your students. They may be beginners or seasoned practitioners, young children or senior citizens. This will affect your sequence as they may need foundational poses or be looking for a more advanced practice. Tailor your sequencing to meet their skill levels and accommodate their physical abilities and current limitations.
>> Background and Demographic: Take into account the diverse backgrounds of your students. Are you teaching in a specific setting, such as a prison or a school? Be sensitive to students’ cultural and individual needs, ensuring your sequences are inclusive and respectful.
>> Group Dynamics: Identify any common traits or shared goals among your students.
Are they part of a sports team, frontline workers, or corporate professionals? Adjust your sequence to cater to their specific requirements, whether this is focused stretching, a dynamic flow, or cultivating calmness and grounding.
While crafting your sequence, it’s important to consider practical factors that can influence your class, such as the environment, time of day or season, and the number of participants. These elements have the potential to impact your sequencing choices and the overall experience of your class.
>> Class Size: The number of students will impact your sequencing choices. Smaller classes allow for more personalized attention and nuanced poses, while larger classes require sequences that can accommodate a broader range of abilities. Consider the space available too; is there room for props or for a pose to extend beyond the mat?
>> Time of Day: Reflect on the timing of your class. Is it in the morning, lunchtime, or evening? Adapt your sequence to align with the energy levels and intentions appropriate for that time of day. For example, early morning sessions may require energizing movements, while evening classes might emphasise relaxation and winding down.
>> Season and Temperature: Consider the environmental factors influencing your class. Are you teaching in a hot yoga room, a cold winter setting, or even on the beach? Adjust your sequence to create an appropriate level of heat or balance for the temperature.
>> Class Duration: Determine the length of your class, whether it’s a shorter lunchtime session or a longer retreat-style class. Align the sequence with the available time to ensure a well-rounded and fulfilling experience.
>> Location and Props: The location and availability of props will shape your sequencing decisions. Yoga studios offer stable floors and walls for balance poses and inversions, while outdoor spaces may present different opportunities and challenges. Consider the availability of props, perhaps you can’t carry blocks to the park but straps are easier to transport – adapt your sequence accordingly.
>> Studio Guidelines: Familiarise yourself with any specific rules or preferences set by the studio where you teach. Respect these guidelines while designing your sequence to ensure a seamless integration of your sequence into the studio’s framework, and maintain a harmonious relationship.
Crafting an Intentional Experience:
As teachers, we aspire to create a supportive and empowering environment where students can explore their potential and deepen their practice. Delve into the intention behind your class and the expectations of your students by considering the following:
>> Student Intentions: Understand why your students are attending the class. Are they seeking a meditative experience, physical challenge, emotional regulation, or energy work? Align your sequencing choices to support their goals and aspirations.
>> Desired State: Reflect on the state in which you want to leave your students at the end of the class. Do you aim to create stress relief and relaxation for the evening, offer refreshment for the workday ahead, or energise their bodies and minds? Design your sequence to support the intended outcome.
>> Long term goals: How does a single class fit into your whole term; do you have a pose in mind you’re hoping the students will achieve a variation of? Or perhaps a longer meditation session is what you’re working towards, or a deeper understanding of a branch of yogic philosophy? Consider what you’re aiming for and work back from there in order to create a broader version of progressive sequencing, gradually building upon foundational poses and themes. As students advance, they can seamlessly integrate new challenges that support their long-term goals, ensuring consistent growth and improvement over time.
We hope you embrace the art of sequencing with creativity and intention, and a genuine commitment to guiding your students on their unique yoga journeys.
By adopting structure, considering students’ needs, and accounting for practical considerations, you can curate a yoga class that resonates deeply; designing sequences that are purposeful, inclusive and empowering. In doing this, Yoga becomes not only a physical practice but also a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement, leading to a more fulfilling and enriching experience for everyone involved.
Path of Yoga is a Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training school.
We hold Yoga Teacher Trainings throughout the year in Thailand (Chiang Mai), India (Rishikesh) and Peru (The Sacred Valley).
You can find out more about Path of Yoga and our YTT’s here.
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