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A sandwich board on the street, saying 'yoga, because some questions can't be answered by Google'.

Rules for creating yoga sequences

There’s an fine art to creating yoga sequences. But there are certain rules that, if adhered to, will help you to be successful.

In the beginning, you have to do a period of study. You’ll need to learn some set, structured sequences. These might be from class sessions you’ve attended, dvds or yoga books, for instance. On repetition, these sequences will help you build a solid foundation of experience. You’ll learn the basics of sequencing from repetitive practice. And, you’ll develop the routine of practising regularly. 

  • Creating a great sequence can be compared to cooking a good meal. The postures are the ingredients so you need to have a wide repertoire of them to choose among.
  • Your sequences need to have a beginning, middle and end. Warm-up, work-out, cool down.
  • They must be purpose-built for you, or for your students if you are teaching. You want them to fit like a tailor-made garment.
  • Ideally, a sequence should relate to a bigger picture. It needs to fit with the practices done in the days or weeks before this sequence was presented as well as the ones that will follow it.
  • It needs to flow. As a practitioner, you should feel that the sequence is seamlesss from beginning to end. You want to avoid standing up, then sitting down, lying down, then standing again. This may end up feeling disjointed.
  • Grouping postures together (i.e., forward bends, backbends, inversions) will increase their efficacy.
  • Finally, you need to know the effect of placing a pose in a certain place in the sequence. Forward bends at the beginning of a sequence, and the particular ones that you choose, will give a different result than placing them near the end of a session.

Benefits of being able to create yoga sequences

I have a large collection of yoga sequences that I’ve enjoyed practising and/or that had a felicitous effect on me. These plans are stored in at least nine overflowing lever arch files that I’ve amassed since the 80’s.

One of the benefits of having this collection at my fingertips is that I can find a lesson plan on almost any theme I want to teach. I could instead of looking for a filed practice just google ‘restorative poses’ or ‘sequence for a rainy day’. But, I wouldn’t have had any experience with the practice I found on the internet. 

Another advantage, which I profited from this morning, is that I can create a sequence from any yoga textbook. Today I used Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health. I found many poses that were recommended for kidney toning and soothing. The practice I created alleviated a pesky low back ache, no doubt from many hours of driving this last week.

This therapeutic approach to practising seems to me to be more useful now as I grow older. But, it also can be helpful at any stage of life where difficulties arise.

The thing is that your ability to create sequences means that, at all times and in any circumstances, you have your hands on the dial. As a yogi, you will always be learning but you have moved into the realm of practising the art of yoga. Ultimately you are your own teacher.

Sequence Tools

• YogaAnywhere practice cards are 10-card sets which give a variety of basic poses. The cards provide tips, images, timings–like having a 10-week course in a box. The cards are priced at $20 and can be ordered by contacting me.

A 10-pack of Yoga Anywhere practice cards

• I’d like to recommend the YogaMate website to you. It’s a new, rich resource for discovering themed sequences, therapy practices, case studies, and scientific research from highly respected yoga teachers around the world. Have a look. You can join the site as a newbie to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, or as a yoga teacher. 

(If you wish to ‘follow’ me on YogaMate use the the teacher code 145.)