Among my first mentor gigs was more than an hour from my house. I would invest my whole commute along Los Angeles’ notorious 405 highway curating my sequence for class. (As Rosie Acosta completely explains in her book You Are Radically Enjoyed, “You do not actually drive on the 405. You move at a glacial speed.”) I would skim my sequencing binder from yoga instructor training, drawing up every posture and shift from the first breath to the last “goodbye.” I was always exceptionally excited to teach what I had actually worked so hard to create.
But many times I would walk into a space filled with students who required the specific opposite of what I had actually prepared. I would want to teach an intense arm balance or inversion practice, but half the trainees that day would be challenged with shoulder or wrist concerns. Or I would want to go hard but everyone was appearing sluggish.
Sequencing a group yoga class can be among the more imaginative parts of mentor yoga. However our series are eventually indicated to serve our students. Planning them– and demanding following through on them– can in some cases disconnect you from what students require. For example, you may have discovered a cool brand-new shift to Vrischikasana (Scorpion) from Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance). But if the total mood of class seems more in requirement of relaxing, you require to save that transition for another day.
Most yoga teachers– even those who don’t normally prepare what they teach ahead of time– agree that it’s important to have a couple of go-to yoga sequences. These are series that we understand within and out and can teach at a minute’s notice without needing to think or prepare. They’re backup options we can rely on when our intended method doesn’t work with the reality of our situation.
Go-to sequences likewise offer a buffer on the days and weeks that inspiration– or time– is lacking. Yvonne Kingsley, co-founder of Haum Yoga in San Francisco, concurs. When she began teaching, she would typically sub classes on brief notice. Depending on “go-to” sequences allowed her to be prepared to teach at any moment without having to continuously create a new series.
And from a student viewpoint, there’s something comforting about familiar series. Knowing what’s following can also be reassuring for students and for the instructor. It’s not an unusual practice. I spent several years studying Ashtanga yoga, which includes fixed sequences known as “series.” Other styles of yoga, including hot yoga, likewise depend on a “set series.”
Personally, I have actually found that depending on my go-to sequences have actually been crucial during demanding times when I’m having problem with sorrow or health problem. Not having to expend energy choreographing each and every single class is an essential method to practice self-care as a yoga teacher.
What to remember when you develop a go-to series
Keep in mind, your inspiration for using a go-to sequence is usually about keeping things approachable for both you and your trainees. The more accessible the postures and the easier the transitions, the easier it will be not simply for trainees to follow, however for you to memorize.
The longer I teach, the more I prefer staying with easier shifts rather than getting very creative as it makes class a lot more accessible for the masses. This depends upon the trainees you generally teach, naturally. Anyone who teaches an all-level class knows there will always be the select few students– typically in the front row– who are thrilled to try new things. But let’s say you have a great deal of individuals who are new to your class or you teach beginner-style classes. People may feel left behind or lost trying to stay up to date with overly intricate sequences, leading them to feel prevented and possibly switched off of yoga altogether.
You can also develop go-to areas of sequences that you can switch into class at any time. For instance, I like having a go-to cool down that I can integrate into any class.
Your go-to yoga sequences can be themed in any method you would approach a normal sequence, whether that means a peak posture, a body part, an anatomical action, or a theme that’s less physical and more psychological, for instance, surrender or self-love.
When the physical practice is simpler, it leaves more space for the more complicated philosophical mentors. Counting on postures that are less anatomically complicated– for that reason requiring less hints– allows you more area to speak about things aside from the physical body throughout class. (It’s a lot more difficult to teach sutra 1:2 when you’re likewise explaining to trainees how to turn and stabilize their knees so they do not hurt themselves.)
London-based teacher Mia Togo has actually been teaching yoga for nearly twenty years. Her classes are incredibly well-attended, whether she’s mentor in the UK or in her home town of Los Angeles. Togo likes mentor asana classes that are sequenced likewise and rather changing the style– frequently a yoga sutra– that she asks trainees to check out. Practicing a familiar sequence in which students know what follows enables them to go deeper with the inner work and allows students to incorporate their inner and external worlds.
Your go-to series can be the same specific sequences you have actually been teaching considering that you were certified. Or they might evolve over time. My go-tos have not changed much in the last fifteen years.
Kingsley advises instructors that it likewise assists– and, in fact, is necessary– to know a few “variations per present that may relate to the trainees you are teaching.” This permits you to make the level better suited for everybody in your class.
It’s practical to create a number of go-to sequences that are themed differently. Possibly you produce one concentrated on the lower body, another on the upper body, along with one that is slower in nature if you typically teach something much faster or vice-versa.
Even if you are reusing the same sequence does not indicate you can stop teaching the poses. One of my favorite exercises to offer when I lead the sequencing part of the 300-hour YogaWorks instructor training is to provide students the exact same mini sequence, however have them teach it in different methods by merely changing the philosophical focus.
Togo advises us that anything done consistently is likely to get sloppy. For instance, classes that include a substantial variety of vinyasas– and Chaturangas– hold the capacity for over and over again practicing hazardous alignment. Eventually, this can result in overuse injuries. It is essential to carefully observe students and cue safe positioning.
Always allow time at the end to cool down
Think about the final portion of your series as bringing everybody back to their center. It can be tempting to attempt to squeeze in simply a couple more presents, however make sure to allow sufficient time for counterposing, extending, and the last relaxation position. If you find yourself constantly having difficulty coming up with a cool-down area on the go, develop several various go-to cool downs so you have alternatives on days when you use all your creativity by the end of your peak posture and require a little assistance in surviving the rest of class.
Need some inspiration for your go-to series?
Join me this month on Yoga Journal as I share a few of my preferred go-to sequences. You can utilize these cue-for-cue, borrow from the, or simply find motivation to create your own go-tos. Today’s go-to series is Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand).
About our factor
Sarah Ezrin is an author, world-renowned yoga educator, popular Instagram influencer, and mama based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her desire to be unabashedly truthful and vulnerable together with her natural knowledge make her writing, yoga classes, and social media terrific sources of recovery and inner peace for many people. Sarah is altering the world, mentor self-love one person at a time. She is also the author of The Yoga of Parenting. You can follow her on Instagram at @sarahezrinyoga and TikTok at @sarahezrin.