I think awesome sequencing is the key to success as a vinyasa yoga teacher. There. I said it.
I’ve felt this way for a very long time but have mostly shied away from making bold statements like this in recent years because there has been so much (and very needed) conversation around making sure that as yoga teachers we’re honoring the entirety of the yoga practice and teaching more than just poses.
Somewhere along the way in these conversations things began to move into the extremes, as they always seem to do nowadays. Almost as if by teaching asana you’re not really teaching yoga, which isn’t true. Asana is, in fact, the third limb of yoga and by teaching it you’re teaching an element of this yoga practice.
In a world where things always seem to move into the black and white without leaving space for the gray, I’m going to say that I think BOTH things are true.
We need to teach the entirety of the yoga practice and honor it fully AND we can still teach asana classes.
The reality is that asana classes are often the thing that draws students into yoga in the first place. We are, as humans, physical creatures. Moving our bodies is something we can almost all relate to no matter where we come from or what language we speak. Stretching, twisting, breathing are things that feel good in the physical body which is why asana ends up being something that so many people can relate to.
As yoga teachers this gives us a wonderful opportunity to use asana classes – something relatable to most people – as a vehicle to introduce the other limbs and layers of the practice that aren’t always as easy for people to connect to.
Asana is the door that opens the way for us to share and honor the entirety of the practice, which brings me back to my original statement: I think awesome sequencing is the key to success as a yoga teacher.
If we can learn to sequence classes that our students love, they’ll keep coming back again and again, which gives us continued opportunities to help them understand the many layers of yoga.
The problem is that sequencing 60-minute yoga classes, or any length for that matter, is the number one thing that yoga teachers and teacher trainees tell me they feel overwhelmed and confused by.
The reason for this is that 200HR yoga teacher training programs, by nature, are comprehensive. They’re meant to provide a baseline level of understanding of all eight limbs of yoga. In order to honor that and ensure that all topics are covered, there’s simply not enough time to do a deep dive into sequencing.
But – if you’re a yoga teacher that is teaching mostly asana classes, sequencing safe, fun, creative classes is the best way for you to give your students a class experience that makes them want to keep coming back to classes over and over again.
That’s why we created a 60 Minute Vinyasa Yoga Sequence PDF. It’s totally free + is the perfect way to get started with learning our signature way of sequencing consistently great vinyasa yoga classes.
For the full deep dive into our method of sequencing, you can sign up for the Vinyasa Sequencing Lab (our signature step-by-step system for creating vinyasa classes that serve your students, boost your confidence, and build your following).
But, if you’re not ready for the deep-dive yet and you just want to get your feet wet, grab the guide and use the tips below to get started.
1. Steps of Yoga: Follow a Yoga Sequence Template
Before I committed to getting really good at sequencing I used to literally make up classes on a whim with no real plan of how to get there. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. But, this created inconsistency for my students, which isn’t a good way to help them learn.
When it comes to yoga class sequencing you want to find a repeatable yoga class template that you can use as a framework for your classes. This way your students know what to expect when they show up to your classes.
Will every single student connect with the template you choose? No– and that’s ok. Over time you’ll begin attracting students who love your classes, and those are the students who will stick by you for the long-haul.
PS – if you’re looking for a template, make sure to grab our Vinyasa Yoga Sequencing Guide to help get you started.
Bonus: Yoga Sequence Books
2. Have a Warm Up for Your Traditional Yoga Sequence
One mistake I see yoga teachers make when they’re first starting out is getting to the challenging poses way too early in a class. Not only does this not make sense from an energetic perspective, but it can also be really unsafe as students can end up getting injured if they’re not properly warmed up.
In a 60-minute class, plan to spend at least 7-10 minutes in the puttering, or warm-up, section of class. Use this as a time to lay the foundation for where you’re going and ease your students into the practice.
3. Yoga Levels: Focus on Standing Poses
If you’re teaching vinyasa yoga then the majority of the poses in your class should be your standing poses. These are the poses that are most easily linked together which provides the yoga flow sequence that vinyasa yoga is known for.
Standing poses work best when they’re sequence from open hip poses (the most accessible) to closed hip poses (the most challenging). So start your classes with standing flow using warrior 2, triangle, and extended side angle. Then, as you progress through your sequence you can pull in warrior 1, warrior 3, and your big twist poses like Revolved Triangle and revolved extended side angle.
4. Teach to a Peak Pose
Having a peak pose gives your class a focus which is hugely important when it comes to sequencing. Which peak pose you choose depends on the level of class you’re teaching, the group of students that usually takes your classes, and the types of poses you feel most comfortable teaching.
When you teach to a peak it allows your students to work on something and truly learn from you. Plus, it helps to take the guesswork out of what other poses you put into your sequence because you can make choices that help support the peak pose you’re focusing on in your class.
If you want help learning how to teach to a peak pose, this is what the Vinyasa Sequencing Lab really focuses on in-depth. You can also grab our Vinyasa Yoga Sequencing Guide to help see where in your class sequence template you should focus on teaching your peak.
Yoga Sequence Books
We have several books we recommend when it comes to deciding which pose you’ll teach (we usually teach to a peak pose) but also other supporting poses that help you get into the peak posture. Check out our other full article on helpful yoga sequence books that will not only help you with poses, but also draw inspiration for the overall feel and vibe of the class (Dharma talk, Savasana, etc.)
While we don’t actually pull the sequencing from these books, they are great at offering more insight when it comes to alignment in the poses. Understanding the full alignment leads to better cueing and an overall better understanding of the way in which we want to move/prep the body for certain poses.
5. Have a True Wind Down
The true “peak” pose of any class is really savasana as that’s the time when all of the benefits of the work and effort we put in on the mat really settle into our systems.
Having an actual wind down in your class to help your students transition from the flowy movements of the vinyasa practice into the stillness of savasana ensures that you’re providing your students with a full class experience.
Plus, the wind down is the perfect time to share insights about the other layers of yoga that make it a full system and not just an exercise class.
If you’re looking for some examples of how to put these sequencing tips into practice, make sure to grab our Vinyasa Yoga Sequencing Guide. Not only will you get a template to follow for sequencing your classes, but you’ll also get 4 full-length 60-minute yoga sequences you can test out with a video of the class being taught by Patrick + Kate.
If you want to learn how to put classes like this together yourself, join us inside the Vinyasa Yoga Sequencing Lab.