Yoga Practice Cycles

Aug 15, 2010 | XPoses, Yoga practices, Yoga teaching  | 8 comments

A yoga teacher trainee whom I was working with asked a smart question: What should I practice when?
If you do the same sequence of poses every single day, as in Astanga Vinyasa Yoga, it’s not a problem. However, what do you do if your practices are more flexible?
Well, it depends on quite a lot of factors – season, age, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause (male or female), time of day, day of the week, etc.
To help my trainee, I sat down and worked out the attached scheme. It covers every possibility I could think of, but please let me know if you think of others. These cycles work well for teachers as a structure for hanging your one-to-one sessions or group classes on, too.
Seven Day Cycles
Monday: Standing poses & salutes
Tuesday: Forward stretches & twists
Wednesday: Backbends
Thursday: Salutes to the sun & standing poses
Friday: Hips & abdominals
Saturday: Restorative/Menstrual
Sunday: Inversions & Misc.
Every day do sirsasana, sarvangasana & variations
Monday: Standing poses, forward stretches & simple backbends
Tuesday: Supta padangusthasana cycle & arm balancings
Wednesday: Ekapada sirsasana cycle, twists, & padmasana cycle
Thursday: Preparation for backbends, advanced backbends & supta padangusthasana cycle
Friday: Supta padangusthasana cycle, arm balancings, & twists
Saturday: Forward stretches – long timings
Sunday: Hips & misc.
Monthly Cycles
Week 1: Standing poses
Week 2: Forward Stretches
Week 3: Backbends & twists
Week 4: Inversions & pranayama
II. Lunar
Full moon: Backbends & twists
Waning: Forward stretches
New Moon: Inversions & pranayama
Waxing: Standing poses
Age Cycles:
Young – varied poses, short timings
Adolescent – Salutes to the sun & standing poses
Middle years – all poses, increasing timings
Old – Fewer poses, more pranayama & meditation
Woman’s cycles
Menstruation: Menstrual sequence
Prenatal/Postnal: Poses appropriate to trimesters, savasana
Menopause: Inversions, forward stretches, backbends, twists, pelvic floor exercises, savasana, pranayama & meditation
Diurnal/Nocturnal Cycle
Morning: dynamic, energising poses
Evening: inversions, savasana, pranayama
Seasonal Cycles
Winter: Dynamic poses to warm the body
Spring: Twists to cleanse internal organs
Summer: Passive backbends, cooling, restorative practice
Autumn: In wet weather, abdominal strenthening poses


  1. Hi Eve,
    Thank you for today’s blog, perfect timing. We have just begun the sequencing for classes to teach in our Teacher Training course at Qi today. I have sent the blog to the whole class. Hope you are feeling better.
    Love Tania

    • At your service, Tania. All we ask for is credit 😉
      If you read it and it doesn’t make sense, ask away!

  2. That’s a good list. I’ll pass it on to Donna. I notice in Light On Yoga, that BKS likes to start pretty well every session with extended headstand and shoulderstand. Which made me wonder: did he ever change his mind about or revise the courses at the back of his book? And also what your thoughts are on doing THAT MUCH sirsasana and sarvangasana?

    • OMG!
      How old is Light on Yoga? Fifty years or more? The practices are out-of-date. The current bible in the Iyengar church is Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health (my opinion). If you and Donna don’t have it, lash out. It has general sequences arranged as a progressive course, and sequences for what ails you. There are other modern yoga books with good sequences, my fave – Awakening the Inner Body by Donald Moyer, for instance. Long headstand and shoulderstand used to be in fashion, and maybe the King still does them like that, but I do 6 – 8 minutes each of them, and 3 – 4 min. in halasana.
      How’s your neck? XO Eve

      • Sorry, 6-8 minutes? That is about 3-5 minutes longer than me! Especially in headstand. No, the neck is fine, but I’ve ordered the Holistic Health Path book from the library and I’ll have a good squizz and probably buy. I do have Moyer on your recommendation as well – I think he’s great except the last chapter/sequence which I think is a bit dodgy. I also remember Liz Bird in her intermediate class delving into some forgotten corners of Light On Yoga for interesting sequences – and the rumour that Shandor started yoga by working his way through Iyengar’s classes by himself.

        • Hi John,
          I stumbled on this comment you made last year. I must have overlooked it. Holistic Health book is very cool for its therapy practices. How are you going in your yoga practice these days?
          Enjoying your skills in WWF’s.
          XO Eve

  3. Wonderful, Eve. Thank you! Heaps of love and a heart hug,
    PS Have just completed facilitating another Magic of Allowing weekend – it was beautiful. Two men participated in the group this time – gorgeous handsome hunks of real men, too . it is an honour to be present when men allow vulnerability. Out of vulnerability comes strength and freedom and power.

    • I’m very proud of you, Kate…the way you make a difference on the Planet!
      I agree completely with vulnerability = power.


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