Yoga

Thoughts on sequencing

Creating yoga sequences doesn't always come naturally to a yogi. Here are some things to keep in mind when constructing yours.

It took a long time to get enough of the hang of yoga to feel comfortable creating my own sequences. Even when I did, I mostly copied from and combined what other yogis were doing. I also learned that sequencing is an evolving thing, with not every movement feeling right every time and always having room for improvement.

Still, I have some stock sequences that I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks. One of the things that I learned about sequencing and doing a yoga flow is that it’s we can have set rhythms and we can also just wing it. For years, I was trying to create the one yoga routine that I would need, that I could do over and over and stay flexible and build strength. And then I realized that was completely ridiculous. Like with all exercise a single routine is never going to help growth. Sure, I can get really good at that routine, but I wouldn’t be stronger and I wouldn’t get more flexible. I’d just get good at that routine.

That was about the time I started rotating a few stock sequences and winging it a little too. As I’ve mentioned before, I have goals. I want to do a handstand. I want to do a split. I want to learn how to use the hammock. I want to have a whole inversion sequence. Those things require attention. They require focus and practice and changing things up when what I’m doing doesn’t serve my goals.

The sequences I’ll be sharing are focused on one thing or another and can be pulled apart and redone. Many of them are augmented somehow or changed sometimes. Goals get diverted or a pose gets really good, or something new is found as a replacement. I’ve also thought more about what’s better long term for my knees and shoulders ever since going to the instructor course.

I’ll be sure to include the mind/body style and the power style for every sequence. A key difference between mind/body and power is the pacing. Mind/body moves from standing to prone to sitting to laying in steady movements with poses held for a few breaths. Power is much faster, often moving between standing and prone a few times before transitioning to sitting and laying. More often the poses are also timed with breath where an inhale comes into one pose and an exhale moves into the next one. Blasphemous as it may sound to other yogis, my personal practice blends more than it should. You’ll see as you read through the sequences.

Here are some things to consider for making your own sequences:

  • Transitions are just as important as poses when it comes to designing a sequence. Sometimes a good transition means adding a pose in the middle or just being aware of the way the joints move from one pose to the next.
  • Do all of one side before changing to the other and consider a mini flow to change sides.
  • Don’t do too many poses per side in a sequence, otherwise you may forget which ones and in what order were in the first side. I keep it under 5 when I’m first creating a sequence and add in when I’m comfortable with it.
  • Try to set it up to also flows with breath so it can be used for both power and mind/body
  • Consider sequence sets instead of entire routines so you can mix and match to create whole routines without overthinking it.
  • Play with it sometimes and see what works for you and your goals and the way your body feels
  • Don’t let any single or set of poses become too concrete in a sequence, see how it flows without something that doesn’t work every day.
  • Dont forget to create a sequence for every goal or focus, otherwise you may end up entirely missing an area to work on
  • There are some amazing sequences already put together on blogs, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest. Feel free to borrow ideas.
  • Consider modifications for both when a pose begins to get a little easy and for those days when your body is having a hard time. This is also important when other people join you who have a different level of strength and/or flexibility.
  • Feel free to just wing it sometimes.

I love the versatility of yoga and all the sequences that can be created and played with. How do you decide on which sequence or poses to do in a practice?

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