Everything You Need For Better Yoga Sequencing

Oct 25, 2017

When I was 20, I read a story about a relationship between Guruji (the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois) and a young man in a wheel chair.

Guruji’s fame at yoga has spread in southern India and a family brought their child to Guruji.

For many, the child, sitting in a wheel chair, was a shock as to how to teach him yoga poses.

Guruji on the other hand, simply picked up the young man, and laid him down on the ground and began to move his body through the healing sequence entrusted to him by his teacher, Krishnamacharya.
A system some people call Ashtanga.

Sequencing is like song writing.

There have been amazing articles about how to connect with your private client, asking them questions about their day and their needs. Rather than play on those aspects of making a private session both enjoyable, and beneficial for your client, I will talk about a few principles of pose sequencing that I have found to be adaptive to the nervous system, and healing to both the mind and the body.

Over the last twenty years of practicing and teaching I have discovered that Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram and Sivananda actually follow these principles, even though their sequences are very different, and their style is far apart form each other.

Hip opener poses – like ‘pigeon’ (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), or ‘double pigeon’ (Dwi Pada Kapotasana) – they prepare the body for back bends.

Backbends – perhaps the most important postures in the physical menu of poses. We are foreward moving people, we sit in chairs. It is important for us to bend our spine backwards regularly.

Forward bends – balance backbends, but they also calm the mind and massage the core. You can start with forward bends, like ‘bound angle’ (Baddha Konasana), or you can have them at toward the end.

Twists – like ‘sage twist’ (Marichiasana) are great to balance out backbends, they also complete forward bends.

When I graduated from my first teacher training back in 2000, my instructor, John DeMinico left me with a few principles that I have discovered to be profoundly therapeutic in building a sequence for any student or company.

The principles are:
In every yoga session be sure to have
– Sun Salutations
– Forward Bends
– Backbends
– Twists, and
– Savasana.

I hope these simple principles help you when navigating through the wide range of yoga poses available today.

Have fun!