The significance of specific sequences of postures is often assumed. The order in which we practise the postures can help us avoid injury, build skills that lead us to a “peak” pose, keep us from harming ourselves, or facilitate group movement with unity. Timelines can also be accessed using sequences. However, a historical perspective requires us to think about the origins of sequences and the methods they employ.
The Basic Rules Of Yoga Sequencing
Here is a quick summary of the rules:
- Warm-up! Beginning with your back supported, move as many joints as you can through their complete range of motion (preferably without any weight).
- Like a mild cobra before an updo, start with a simpler manoeuvre and work your way up to the more complex one.
- If you want to avoid overworking the same muscles and tendons, you shouldn’t cycle through the sequence Down Dog, Plank, Plank, Chaturanga, Side Plank, Up Dog, and Back to Down Dog. This well-known workout is a real pain in the wrists and shoulders because it is typically repeated several times. Assuredly lead to painful cases of recurrent stress. Instead, offer a flexible, all-encompassing service.
- Remediate the harm you’re causing to your body. All yoga poses present some sort of difficulty that helps us grow stronger. But if it’s not managed, it can become stressful. Pay out bonuses frequently during the process, ideally just after each milestone is reached.
The meaning of “compensation” The term “compensation” refers to a series of movements that begin with no or limited weight-bearing and end with a hold of the shape. These actions, meant to reset your mood and body, should be straightforward to carry out. Like comfort food, they soothe the body and the nervous system. The following are activities for which payment is due to you:
Following The Downward Dog And Other Arm-Weight-Bearing Poses:
- Urdva Prasarita Padasana, or UPP, is performed by raising the legs and arms towards the ceiling on an inhalation and bringing the knees into the chest on an exhalation. This can be done instead of or in addition to Down Dog or any other standing posture. The spine is extended and the core is engaged, making this an excellent warm-up for standing poses that include the back, knees, hamstrings, ankles, and quadriceps.
- Tadasana, or mountain pose; standing on your tiptoes or with a slight bend in your knees. Raise your arms upwards and then, as you exhale, let them fall to your sides. To keep the shoulders in proper alignment as the arms are raised aloft, the shoulder blades should move down the back.
Following Twists, Backbends, And Asymmetrical Poses:
- Using a progressive abdominal contraction, come into the child’s pose (Chakra Vakrasana) from all fours (child to the table with a short back bend on the inhale, table to the child on the exhale). This is helpful after back bending exercises since it relaxes the lumbar region.
- Because it provides stability in the SI joint, vimanasana (locust variation) is particularly beneficial for compensating after hip openers, twists, or asymmetrical poses. Lifting and spreading the legs while exhaling causes the legs to be lowered.
After The Shoulder Stand, Extend Your Arms Upwards While Inhaling:
- Unlike the static and neck-weighting Fish Pose, this allows you to relax your head, shoulders, and upper back. Compensation is more than just its polar opposite; it must also be dynamic and non-weight-bearing to reduce the strain of the original stance.
- Reversed butterfly posture (Badha Konasana Supta). Excellent as a warm-up for core work and for re-stabilising the SI joint after hip flexion and rotation. Exhale and open your knees. Bring the knees together with an exhalation and a progressive zip-up. The hips can hover an inch off the floor for further stability.
- Knees into tabletop on inhale, knees into the chest on exhale) is called Apanasana, and it is a backbend. Mudras are seals or gestures of intention used to reset one’s mental energy and maintain a sense of connection and presence. Extra support can be gained by using a progressive zip. Fabulous following some back bending.
- Inversions and twists from a standing position are followed by Uttanasana (forward fold). Raise your arms in the air as you inhale; as you exhale, fold forwards; then, as you inhale again, return to a standing position. If your lumbar curvature is flatter, you can hinge at the hips; if it’s more swayback-like, you can roll up your spine one vertebra at a time using the zip-up.
- After finishing seated twists or backbends, fold forward into Paschimottanasana. First, assume a neutral spine position by taking a deep breath in, and then, while exhaling, fold forward at the hips and over your legs. The knees should be bent so that the thighs and buttocks touch.
Some Gentle Backbends To Stretch The Abdominals After Core Exercises:
- Cobra Pose, or Bhujanghasana. While on one’s stomach, one should inhale to lift one’s chest while maintaining an appropriate shoulder-to-hip distance, then exhale to sink back down. Keep your lower stomach in by zipping up to support your lower back.
- Dwi Pada Pitham, or the Bridge Pose. Raise the hips and arms overhead as you inhale, then lower the arms and pelvis as you exhale. Keep your lower back in a neutral position. Hip flexors are stretched, and tension in the upper back, shoulders, and neck (common after ab exercises) is released. Excellent also after arm-weighted poses.
Remember: All compensatory movements are also warm-ups; the difference is that during compensation, we need to hold the position for a few breaths after each dynamic repetition (do this 4-6 times, or until you feel like your body and mind have recovered). They are like a reset button for your entire being.
Not only will you recover from the stress of the previous pose, but you will also be able to do better in your next pose. The compensations do not have to be done immediately after a pose, but it is preferable.
- Start and finish your routine with symmetrical stances and motions. Simple symmetrical dynamic movements are a good place to start when warming up. After class, it’s the same thing. The benefits listed above are extensive enough that you will only find yourself repeating yourself occasionally.
- Add a calming Chandra Bhedana or Seetali to the end of the lesson is intense. If the lesson’s goal is energy balancing, practising alternate nostril breathing is necessary. A hot Surya Bhedana if Kapha Dosha is out of whack.
- It’s best to space out your deep hip openers, asymmetrical poses, and deep twists so your body can recover properly from each. This is a common problem that I see: people start by dislocating their hips and sacroiliac joints, then they lunge, and finally, they twist deeply, putting stress on their SI ligaments and low back. The result: a weak and easily injured pelvis.
Daily Yoga eliminates the pressure to “do it all” in a single session. You do one thing now and a different one tomorrow. When a practitioner attempts to execute too many poses at once, their body becomes like a child with attention deficit disorder (ADD), and they feel disoriented and overwhelmed. Rather, keeping most postures within a moderate range of motion may target both the hips and the shoulders in a single session without feeling too disjointed.
- Don’t pile on too many unbalanced stances without a counterbalance. However, I frequently observe the stack on one side without any symmetry or centring: high lunge, crescent moon, twisted side angle, side angle, triangle stance, half-moon, twisted triangle, and twisted half-moon. The only break is a Down Dog right before we exchange sides. This is the exact order in which I injured my sacroiliac joint. Warning to potential purchasers!
- Last but not least, SLEEP! Relax the muscles and joints working so hard during your yoga positions. For healing and for strengthening resilience, this is an absolute must. We are dehydrating the tissues (water gets squeezed out of them when the pressure of pose/movement is applied) by not giving the body adequate time to recover between significant activities.
Three Components Of Smart Sequencing
Yogi As Creative Force In Creativity
Knowing that your practice of yoga may differ from that of your neighbour (or even from yourself a year or two from now) is part of your responsibility as a yoga practitioner. As is well known, too much of the same thing can make the body irritable. The human body requires extensive, varied motion (creative Shakti energy) to stay in peak physical condition. We also benefit from structure and repetition inside our movement practice (preferably to offset our worst or most frequent body habits).
The low-key design may result from your “non-negotiables” in various procedure parts. Each yogi will have their own unique experience. You may be unable to stand listening to music during a certain part of the class. Sit quietly for five minutes to gather your thoughts to get started. Possibly a sun salutation. The six spinal motions are considered essential in Kripalu yoga and serve as a form of pre-practice preparation.
But in this form, and in the essence of yoga itself, you have a canvas, paints, and an opportunity to give life to what is already there within you (rather than merely repeat what you have been told).
The Absolute Non-Negotiable Is Truth In Advertising
Unless otherwise specified, a weekly class that meets consistently should cover a wide range of topics. According to your understanding, a balanced hatha (ha=sun, tha=moon) yoga session includes both yang (masculine, solar, powerful) and yin (feminine, lunar, soft) aspects. There will be twists, forwards, folds, backbends, and possibly side bends. Pose types (standing, sitting, and four-legged) will all be represented.
If you’re following the rules of truth in advertising, then your sequence will begin precisely when the class begins and end precisely when it’s advertised to end. The class will be level-appropriate (as there has never been a yoga session where everyone was at the same “level”), and you will respect the diversity of the students in front of you by sticking to the title and level.
It’s time to go mining for the precious stones that constitute the core of your sequence if you notice that your sequences frequently extend past savasana or the end time of class. If you feel obligated to do so, look for openings to teach longer classes or request an official extension of five or more minutes of your class period.
Finally, the meat and potatoes of what we think at “The Academy” (as we like to call ourselves ;)): a yoga instructor should maintain anatomic coherency within a creative, well-rounded, truth-in-advertising yoga session. The term “Anatomic Coherency” is rather pretentious, so please pardon us. What we mean is that there is one of three anatomical elements that serve as the foundation for a coherent class.
The positions in a simple flow fall within the realm of “normal.” This is perfect for classes where the pace is high.
A peak pose is very difficult or complex and therefore requires (or at least benefits from) prior instruction and practice.
A Cluster Of “Sibling Poses.”
The stances that make up a sibling cluster are extremely similar. The three kids all share the same traits. Smoothly transition from one posture to the next, or do a variation on your back, tabletop, or standing. Complexity in sibling poses clusters is not a hard and fast rule.
Anatomic Coherence Is Not:
A series of completely unrelated stances or poses that are only connected because they are novel, different, or physically demanding. Incoherent sequences of body parts or joints going from one extreme to the other are discouraging to most yoga practitioners.
Disorienting the neurological system with anatomically incoherent sequences. While choosing poses at random from the human body could provide a more well-rounded class, it comes with a higher risk of injury. That is our central thesis concerning intelligent sequence construction.
Sequencing is crucial in yoga as it helps avoid injury, build skills, prevent harm, and facilitate group movement. The basic rules of yoga sequencing include warming up with your back supported, moving joints through their complete range of motion, and avoiding overworking the same muscles and tendons. To avoid overworking the same muscles and tendons, avoid cycling through the sequence Down Dog, Plank, Plank, Chaturanga, Side Plank, Up Dog, and Back to Down Dog.
Compensation refers to a series of movements that begin with no or limited weight-bearing and end with a hold of the shape. These actions help reset mood and body, soothing the body and the nervous system. Examples of compensatory movements include following Downward Dog and other arm-weight-bearing poses, tadasana, twists, backbends, and asymmetrical poses.
Compensatory movements should be dynamic and non-weight-bearing to reduce strain on the original stance. Examples include the Child’s pose, Vimanasana, Shoulder Stand, Apanasana, Uttanasana, Paschimottanasana, and gentle backbends to stretch the abdomen after core exercises.
All compensatory movements are also warm-ups, but during compensation, hold the position for a few breaths after each dynamic repetition. These movements are like a reset button for the entire being, helping the body recover from the stress of the previous pose and perform better in the next pose.
To create a well-rounded yoga practice, start and finish with symmetrical stances and motions, starting with simple dynamic movements and gradually increasing intensity. Space out deep hip openers, asymmetrical poses, and deep twists to allow the body to recover properly. Daily yoga eliminates the pressure to do everything in a single session, allowing practitioners to focus on both the hips and shoulders without feeling disoriented or overwhelmed. Avoid putting too many unbalanced stances without a counterbalance, as this can cause injury to the SI ligaments and low back.
Smart sequencing is essential for healing and strengthening resilience. Yoga practitioners should know that their practice may differ from others, and they should be aware of their own unique experiences. A balanced hatha yoga session should cover both yang and yin aspects, including twists, forwards, folds, backbends, and side bends.
Timing is crucial, with a sequence that begins and ends precisely when the class begins and ends, respecting the diversity of students. If sequences extend past savasana or the end time of class, it is important to find opportunities to teach longer classes or request an official extension.
Anatomic coherence is essential for a coherent yoga session. There are three anatomical elements that serve as the foundation for a coherent class: simple flow, peak pose, and sibling pose clusters. Anatomic coherence should not include unrelated stances or poses that are novel, different, or physically demanding, as this can be discouraging to most practitioners.
Disorienting the neurological system with anatomically incoherent sequences is not recommended, as choosing poses at random from the human body could provide a more well-rounded class but may increase the risk of injury. By following these principles, yoga practitioners can create a well-rounded and creative yoga practice that benefits both the practitioner and the students.
- Specific sequences in yoga hold assumed significance.
- Practising postures in a certain order can prevent injury.
- Sequences help build skills for peak poses.
- Unity in group movement is facilitated through sequences.
- Historical context sheds light on the origins of sequences.
- Warm-up is crucial, involving joint mobility without weight.
- Begin with simpler postures before advancing to complex ones.
- Avoid overworking muscles through thoughtful sequencing.
- Compensation movements aid in resetting the body.
- “Compensation” refers to movements that reset body and mind.
- Urdva Prasarita Padasana engages core for warm-up.
- Tadasana alignment maintains shoulder positioning.
- Child’s pose is beneficial after backbending.
- Vimanasana stabilizes SI joint after hip openers.
- Arm extensions after shoulder stand reduce strain.
- Reversed butterfly pose aids core work and SI joint stability.
- Apanasana provides backbend compensation.
- Uttanasana follows inversions and twists for balance.
- Paschimottanasana calms after seated twists.
- Cobra pose stretches and supports lower back.
- Dwi Pada Pitham releases tension after ab exercises.
- Compensatory movements double as warm-ups.
- They aid recovery and preparation for next poses.
- Sequence start and end with symmetrical movements.
- Calming breath techniques like Chandra Bhedana.
- Alternating nostril breathing for energy balance.
- Spacing hip openers and twists aids recovery.
- Deep hip openers should be spaced out for recovery.
- Avoid excessive poses in a single session.
- Each yogi’s practice is unique.
- Low-key design accommodates personal preferences.
- Non-negotiables add structure to your practice.
- Kripalu yoga emphasizes the six spinal motions.
- Yoga offers a canvas for creative expression.
- A balanced hatha yoga session covers yang and yin aspects.
- Class timing adheres to advertised schedules.
- Respect student diversity by adhering to class title.
- Maintain anatomic coherency in yoga sequences.
- Simple flows are perfect for high-paced classes.
- Peak poses require prior instruction and practice.
- Sibling pose clusters involve similar stances.
- Transition smoothly between sibling poses.
- Anatomic coherence ensures well-rounded sessions.
- Avoid incoherent sequences to prevent discouragement.
- Neurological system disorientation is risky in sequences.
- Smart sequence construction prevents injury.
- Sequences offer a roadmap for safe practice.
- Historical context provides insight into sequences.
- Compensation movements reset body and mind.
- Symmetry and balance are key in sequence design.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Sequencing Of Yoga?
In general, it’s sound practice to start with relaxation, meditation or breathwork to allow mental preparation and settling of the mind, then begin with standing poses to warm the body, move on to focus poses, and finally, release and relaxation poses.
What Should Be At The End Of A Yoga Sequence?
Savasana. Every yoga practice should end with Savasana, the minutes of meditation where a yogi lies on the floor in a meditative state. This is essential to reap the physical and mental benefits of a yoga class. Yoga instructors should allow students about 2-5 minutes for this important phase.
How Many Yoga Sequences Are There?
In total, there are about 200 yoga poses in contemporary yoga. However, the oldest yoga traditions count just a few, all sitting poses for meditation. Most medieval hatha yoga traditions agree that there are 84 yoga poses but describe much fewer in writing.
What Should We Do First, Yoga Or Meditation In The Morning?
Ideally, meditation is best after yoga and breathwork since these practices balance the nervous system and stimulate your subtle energy. However, if yoga or breathwork is something other than what you do, she recommends practising after exercise.
Why Is Sequencing Important In Yoga?
Why is sequencing so important? As a student, when you are in the presence of intelligent sequencing: Your body responds to the positive effects of a well-sequenced and rounded yoga class. You are prepared to safely enter, sustain, and exit simple and more complicated yoga poses.