Lessons From the Mat – Sequencing

I had a question from a new grad recently about sequencing, and she was feeling a bit pressured to be sequencing a new class every day and wanted to get some guidance.  I have written a bit about this here, and will continue over the coming months to discuss a few of the foundations that I work with in my own sequencing.  But, to get more ideas, I reached out to a few Trinity grads to hear their wisdom, and here are a few of the first (awesome) answers I got:

Jen Brown, Canberra
“The most important rule to teaching yoga is to be authentic to yourself. It’s important to teach what you know and love. The routine that Yoga Trinity offers is a fantastic routine that can be modified to students of varying abilities. However it is also a good foundation from which to create your own routine. So perhaps make small additions at first, if it seems natural and appropriate to you and your students.

There are many styles of yoga that teach set routines. These sequences are always the same and can be memorised by students and thus practised at home. Many students appreciate this and love this sort of practice. Other teachers however, change it up on the fly. They can scan a room, or take a request from a student and create a class from there. But this takes years and years of experience. These sort of teachers have been practising yoga for so long that it comes naturally to them to sequence poses the way that a pianist can improvise on the piano. They don’t have to think about it, it just comes naturally.

If creating new sequences does not come naturally to you, then stick with what you know. You will find a group of students who appreciate that practice and are happy to repeat it over and over again. As you develop as a teacher, they will develop with you.

When I started out, I had a routine typed up in front of me that I’d practised. I would change it up every 3 weeks or so which gave students some variety. But over time I discovered that based on the group in front of me, I often had to abandon my plan and create something different and unique for them. So I think it’s good to have a plan, but to also be willing to change it when necessary. Creating a new routine every single class is a lot to ask in my opinion. I would say if you want to offer them variety, create 5-6 routines that you really enjoy and rotate them around from time to time.”

And, some wisdom from the delightful Sheril Dietz, Saskatchewan

Here is my take on that subject.
I can totally relate.  You think each class need something totally different.
First off, sometimes I can hardly remember what I taught in the previous class so I am going out on a limb (not) in saying that your students won’t remember week to week until you have done the exact same thing for many weeks in a row, which I can guarantee you will never happen.   Even if you teach back to back classes I would say the same thing.  As you teach longer, you will customize classes as you go.  Sometimes I have  wonderful notes and class plans and as soon as I start I see it won’t work, or perhaps I see students struggling or a new student has joined or whatever.  So this comes with practice. And a bit of experience.
In my case, these students come to class once a week to follow my instructions and don’t practice much at home.
Sometimes even a subtle change is enough to shake up a sequence.  Focus on  foundation, or breath or ease  in the same pose and hone in on those aspects with different classes.

I think all yoga teachers struggle with this.  We want our students to feel they are “getting their money’s worth” in our class.   Believe me; if you pay attention to them, guide them when they need it, leave them alone sometimes if that’s what they need, and show them your obvious passion for yoga it will all come together.

Heather,I know I won’t get this quote right “practice, practice and all is coming”???

Well , teach, teach and all is coming also.  It takes time to find your own rhythm, with the key word being YOUR.  Confidence will be acquired with each class and challenge that faces you.  Some days will be awesome and others, not so much.  But keep at it.  It’s worth it.

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