Sequencing Primer

November 12, 2013

A teacher recently wrote to me and asked:

"Hi Sara,

I’m just curious… How do you remember 75-90 minute class sequences? Although I have a plan, I tend to forget some things that I want to teach. Do you have any advice for this?

-A curious yogi"

Great question.

Plain and simple, sometimes I leave my notebook open and glance at it. So what? A teacher with lesson plans shouldn’t be intimidated to look at them. They can absolutely keep you on track with the strategy you took the time to plan outside of class. Don’t be afraid to bring your notes. It’s problematic if you feel you need to rely on them.

We’ve talked at length about coming prepared with a sequence and “when keeping it real goes wrong”. In the words of my teacher Noah, “I said it, but did they do it?”. This is key in progressing your sequence which will ultimately be different class to class, even if you have a general direction you’d like to go.

Remember to always teach to what you are observing.

Also, since I’m working off my *general template often I find it easier to think of my sequence in sections. Memorize your sequence in categories such as your warm-up sequence or standing pose sequence, etc. It is more manageable to categorize them mentally instead of one long, long, long, long 90 minute sequence.

Then, during the week self practice a few times actually the sequence you’re working with in classes. Embodying it gives great insight as to what really works, where you can shift to a lower level or amp up for your advanced classes. Practicing it helps make it sink in.

Often I also will just have a few peaks throughout my general template and not fill in the gaps until I’m in class. For example, if in a standing pose sequence I know I want to hit ardha chandra chapasana and in backbends I want to do a standing nataraj prep, I’ll teach a sequence off the cuff knowing from experience how to get to certain poses. Then because we did deep extensions throughout class I will ease students into more upright seated poses that bring a neutral quality to the spine and work that for a while before we do deep flexion. This all comes with time and experience.

From week to week repeat a few parts of your sequence. I often repeat my warm ups. It helps students mark progress and also keep me sane by not needing to reinvent yoga in every class.

  • The General Template is the categories of poses I feel follow a natural progression for a balanced class experience. It is modified from the General Template I learned when I was affiliated with Anusara Yoga. We went over this in the continuing education workshop series, Sadhana Sessions.