I remember hearing a well-known yoga teacher say, “If you can do forward bends easily, you probably can’t do backbends; if you can do backbends easily, you probably can’t do forward bends; and, if you can do both easily, you probably will have difficulty with pranayama.”
Well, usually we do have our strong suit. Forward bends were never mine, but over the years I guess I’ve surrendered myself to them more. Less ambitious perhaps? Here’s a sequence with plenty of going forward with twists thrown in for neutralising the spine.
Forward Stretch Sequence + Twists
Sitting: 5 min.
Supta padangusthasana 1 (with chin to shin)
Virasana, with arms o/head
Adho mukha virasana/Adho mukha svanasana x 5
1. Tadasana/Urdhva hastansa/Uttanasana x5
2. Tadasana/Utkatasana/Uttanasana x5
3. Tadasana/Utkatasana/Uttanasana/Urdhva Prasarita ekapadasana – both sides
Sirsasana or Adho mukha Vrskasana & Pincha Mayurasana
1. Dandasana/Paschimottanasana/Navasana x3
2. Dandasana/Paschimottanasana/Ubhaya padangusthasana x 3
3. Dandasana/Paschimottanasana/Malasana x 3
4. Dandasana/Paschimottanasana/Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana
Upavistha Konasana 1 & 2
Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana
Bharadavajasana 1 & 2
Ardha Matsyendrasana 1
Here’s a great question from a local yoga teacher:
At present I offer multi-levelled classes. Most of my students are new to yoga. They seem to appreciate, enjoy and learn from the sequences and information I share. I also have a couple of “more experienced students” who attend the class regularly. Aside from options for a pose and offering a “recess” time at the end of each class, where they can choose a pose after their own gusto, there are times where I suspect to under challenge these students and to exclude their needs in a way that might hinder their progress. What else could I do to make my class more inclusive?
A newer teacher will teach a general plan – one program that pretty much everyone follows. When a teacher is experienced, she will more to individuals within the one class. The students may not even know this is happening, as the teacher is watchful of the different abilities, the variety of ages and conditions, and needs.
Some suggestions you’ve already mentioned:
1. Present a pose progressively, first with a prepatory version, then a simple version and finally the more classic one – for instance, headstand preparation, then using the wall, then free balancing.
2. Use props, especially with beginners or those with injuries, medical conditions, or aged – for instance, using the wall for ardha chandrasana. Let more experienced students free balance in the pose.
3. Give basic instructions, make sure the beginners are getting those, but add more refined instructions for those who want to explore subtleties of a pose.
4. Give alternate poses – a more difficult version to those who have demonstrated they can go to that level, at the same time those with less experience or ability do a related, simpler pose.
5. Create an atmosphere of inclusivity, where people help each other, as in partner work, for example.
6. Too hard to include everybody? Maybe it’s time to put on another class at a higher level.