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Sample Sequences

Yoga Sequencing Approaches

Some styles of yoga are drawn from a rich heritage of which asana is only a small part of the broad practice. And some styles are based almost entirely on a sequence of poses. Many fall somewhere in-between with an approach that may or may not include a sequencing framework. Following are samples of generally accepted sequencing approaches from a variety of lineages and experts. For more suggestions on creating your own sequencing, see Planning Framework, Sequencing Principles and Sun, Moon & Seasons.

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Larger Bullet Common Hatha Sequence

There is no "standard" yoga sequence other than a mindful beginning, middle & end. That said, many Hatha yoga teachers and authors use a basic sequencing template that is similar to the following.

  1. Centering/Grounding (including options of meditation & breath practices)mountain_brit.jpg
  2. Warm Up
  3. Sun Salutes/Flow
  4. Standing Poses including Balance
  5. Arm Balances
  6. Inversions ("Warming" Inversions such as Headstand & Handstand)
  7. Backbends
  8. Abdominals
  9. Hip Openers
  10. Twists
  11. Shoulderstand / Plow ("Cooling" Inversions)
  12. Forward Bends
  13. Savasana
  14. Meditation/Pranayama/Closing
  • Categories of poses assume counterposes when necessary. So, for example, "Inversions" refers to both the actual Inversion such as Headstand plus its counterpose such as Child's.
  • Few published sequencing templates include Hip Opening poses as a category. These tend to be put variously before or after Twists. Because they are floor poses and can be introspective, they are often placed in the latter half of class. And because they help prepare the body for Forward Bends, they usually precede them.
  • Some common variations on the above sequence are to:
    • Omit some categories in some styles or with some students. Sun Salutes, Arm Balances, Abdominals, Inversions & Shoulderstand are categories that are not always taught.
    • Place Abdominals elsewhere in class such as during Warm Up, before Backbends or as part of cooling phase.
    • Practice Twists just before Savasana.
    • Perform Forward Bends before Shoulderstand.
    • There are other variations with certain lineages and styles favoring certain approaches.
  • For more detailed information on sequencing categories of poses (e.g. standing poses, backbends & twists) by their effects, join Yoga Teacher Central and select the page "Pose Categories."
  • Teachers are generally advised to understand the philosophy behind the approach they are choosing and be experienced in that practice.

Larger Bullet Ashtanga Sequence

The Ashtanga Yoga sequence developed by K. Pattabhi Jois is expertly described in Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual © 1999 by David Swenson. Ashtanga classes follow this set sequence. Many power and vinyasa classes use subsets of this physically demanding practice.

Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutes)triangle_traditional2.jpg

  • Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salute A) – 5 times
  • Surya Namaskara B (Sun Salute B) – 5 times

"The Standing Sequence"

  • Padangusthasana (Big Toe)
  • Padahastasana (Hand to Foot)
  • Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle)
  • Parivritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle)
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle)
  • Parivritta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle)
  • Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, and D (Wide Legged Forward Bend variations)
  • Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch or Pyramid)
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, and D (Extended Hand to Big Toe variations)
  • Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Standing Forward Bend)
  • Utkatasana (Fierce or Chair)
  • Virabhadrasana A and B (Warrior I and II) - to  down dog and jump through to seat for Primary Series or squat for Intermediate Series

"The Primary Series"

  • Dandasana (Staff)
  • Paschimottanasana A, B, and C (Seated Forward Bend with grip variations)
  • Purvottanasana (Eastern Intense Strech or Upward Plank)
  • Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Seated Forward Bend)
  • Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana (Three Limbed Forward Bend)
  • Janu Sirsana A, B, and C (Head to Knee variations)
  • Marichysasana A, B, C, and D (Marichi variations)
  • Navasana (Boat)
  • Bhujapidasana (Arm Pressure)
  • Kurmasana (Turtle)
  • Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Turtle)
  • Garbha Pindasana (Womb Embryo)
  • Kukkutasana (Cock)
  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle)
  • Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold)
  • Supta Konasana (Sleeping Angle)
  • Supta Padangusthasana A, B, and C (Reclining Big Toe variations)
  • Chakrasana (Circle or Wheel vinyasa)
  • Ubhaya Padangusthasana (Both Big Toes)
  • Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana (Upward Facing Forward Fold)
  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge)

"The Intermediate Series"

  • Pashasana (Noose)
  • Krounchasana (Heron)
  • Shalabhasana A and B (Locust variations)
  • Bhekasana (Frog)
  • Dhanurasana (Bow)
  • Parsva Dhanurasana (Sideways Bow)
  • Ustrasana (Camel)
  • Laghuvajrasana (Little Thunderbolt)
  • Kapotasana (Pigeon)
  • Supta Vajrasana (Reclined Thunderbolt)
  • Bakasana A and B (Crane/Crow and jumping into it from down dog)
  • Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja or Sage Twist)
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes)
  • Eka Pada Sirsana A, B, and C (One Foot to Head variations)
  • Dwi Pada Sirsasana A and B (Two Feet to Head variations)
  • Yoganidrasana (Yogi's Sleep)
  • Tittibhasana A, B, C, and D (Insect or Firefly variations)
  • Pincha Mayrasana (Feathered Peacock)
  • Karandavasana (Duck)
  • Vrischikasana (Scorpion)
  • Mayurasana (Peacock)
  • Nakrasana (Crocodile)
  • Vatayanasana (Horse)
  • Parighasana (Gate)
  • Gomukhasana A and B (Cow Face variations)
  • Supta Urdhva Pada Vajrasana (Sleeping Raised Foot Thunderbolt) - transition pose only
  • Baddha Hasta Sirsasana A, B, C and D  (Bound Hands Headstand variations)
  • Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A, B and C (Free Hands Headstand variations)

"The Finishing Sequence"

  • Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Facing Bow or Wheel)
  • Paschimottanasana (Western Intense Stretch or Seated Forward Bend)
  • Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)
  • Halasana (Plow)
  • Karnapidasana (Ear Pressure)
  • Urdhva Padmasana (Upward Lotus)
  • Pindasana (Embryo
  • Matsyasana (Fish)
  • Uttana Padasana (Extended Leg)
  • Sirsasana A and B (Headstand variations)
  • Baddha Padmasana (Bound Lotus)
  • Padmasana (Lotus)
  • Tolasana (Scale)
  • Savasana (Corpse)

Larger Bullet Baptiste Power Sequence

Some studios and teachers adhere exactly to the following sequence authored and published by Baron Baptiste in Journey Into Power © 2003. Other power yoga teachers use this sequence as a template from which they create similar classes.

"Integration Series" Dog_Trad.jpg

  • Balasana (Child's)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) holding opposite elbows (Ragdoll)

Sun Salutations

  • Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salutation A) - 3 to 5 times
  • Surya Namaskara B (Sun Salutation B) - 2 times
  • Surya Namaskara B (Sun Salutation B) adding Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) after Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)

"Warrior Series"

Flow: Sun Salute A to Down Dog to 3 Legged Dog with Open Hip
  • Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)
  • Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolving Crescent Lunge)
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) - then to plank
  • Vasisthasana (Side Plank) - repeat previous poses from 3 legged dog through side plank on other side followed by connecting vinyasa through standing forward bend and then chair
  • Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Fierce or Chair Pose) - ragdoll and chair in between sides, end in ragdoll
  • Padahastasana (Hand to Foot or "Gorilla") - then to halfway lift and then hands flat on floor
  • Bakasana (Crow) - then vinyasa to mountain

Balancing

  • Garudasana (Eagle) - both sides and then repeat both sides a second time
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A (Standing Front Leg Raise) - to next pose, same side
  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B (Standing Side Leg Raise) - to front leg raise and then next pose, same side
  • Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3 or "Airplane") - to mountain and then repeat standing leg raises & airplane on other side
  • Natarajasana (Dancer’s) - both sides and then repeat both sides a second time
  • Vrksasana (Tree) - both sides then mountain to sun salute B with Warrior II added after Warrior 1

"Triangle Series"

  • Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle) - to next pose, same side
  • Parivrtta Trikonasna (Revolved Triangle) - connecting vinyasa to Warrior II, repeat last 2 poses on other side then after second side, turning feet to parallel
  • Prasarita Padottanasna A (Standing Wide Legged Bend)
  • Parsvottanasna (Pyramid) - both sides, then vinyasa to down dog followed by plank and slow lowering to floor

Backbending

  • Salabhasana (Locust) - 3 times
  • Dhanurasana (Bow) - 2 times followed by down dog
  • Ustrasana (Camel) - followed by child's or down dog; then repeat camel followed by child's and down dog to sit bones and then to back
  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge) - 2 times
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel) - 3 to 6 times followed by windhield wiper legs
  • Supta Baddha Konasna (Reclined Bound Angle)

Abdominals

  • Scissor Legs and 60/30 Lift - then reclined bound angle
  • Abdominal Twists - then reclined bound angle
  • Navasana (Boat) - followed by cross ankle lift for 3 to 5 sets, then reclined bound angle

Inversions

  • Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)
  • Halasana (Plow)
  • Karnapidasana (Ear Pressure or "Deaf Man's") - followed by rolling forward and back and vinyasa to down dog

Hip Opening

  • Adho Mukha Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Half Pigeon) - then to next pose same side
  • Dwapada Rajakapotasana (Double Pigeon) - back to half pigeon and then down dog; repeat last 2 poses next side
  • Yin Frog - then to belly and to back and then to a seat

Forward Bends

  • Janu Sirsana (Head to Knee) - to next pose
  • Passcimottanasna (Seated Forward Fold) - then repeat last pose on other side
  • Purvottanasna (Upward Plank)
  • Matsyasana (Fish)

"Surrender to Gravity"

  • Urdhva Mukha Upavista Konasana (Happy Baby)
  • Supine Twist
  • Savasana

Larger Bullet Balanced Hatha Practice

In Moving Toward Balance: 8 Weeks of Yoga with Rodney Yee © 2004, Rodney Yee gives in-depth guidance for beginners developing a yoga practice. He includes pose variations & dozens of sequences. There are sequences for introducing or focusing on particular poses or types of poses (such as Standing, Backbends or Twists). He also offers sequences designed to meet particular intentions, including practices for during menstrual period, when sick and for low back issues. The following is based on Yee's sequence "for overall balance." He recommends holding most poses for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

To Beginreclined_hero_one_leg.jpg

  • Virasana (Hero) – with opening meditation

Standing: Heat Building & Balance

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) + Tadasana
  • Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutes) + Tadasana
  • Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle)
  • Urdvha Hastasana (Upward Salute)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle) + Uttanasana
  • Vrksasana (Tree) + Uttanasana
  • Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1) + Uttanasana
  • Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) + Uttanasana
  • Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) + Uttanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana C (Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend with hands clasped overhead)

Warming Inversion

  • Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)

Backbends

  • Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero)
  • Restorative Backend
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog)
  • Ustrasana (Camel)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog)
  • Urdvha Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
  • Urdvha Dhanurasana (Upward Facing Bow)
  • Baddah Konasana (Cobblers)

Twists

  • Seated Twists - 3 variations
  • Baddah Konasana (Cobblers)
  • Maricyasana C (Marici Twist)

Cooling Inversions

  • Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)
  • Halasana (Plow)

Forward Bends

  • Supta Padanghustasana (Reclined Big Toe)
  • Passcimotanasana (Seated Forward Fold)
  • Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee)
  • Cross Legged Forward Bend
  • Baddah Konasana (Cobblers)

To Close

  • Meditation
  • Restorative
  • Seated Meditation
  • Savasana

Larger Bullet Restorative for Stress or Insomnia

The basis for the following sequence is found in Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times © 1995 by Judith Lasater. See Lasater's book for in-depth information and guidance on restorative yoga.

To Begin

Opening

Inversion

Forward Bend

To Finish

Members, see Restoratives Sequencing for Sequencing Considerations and more Sample Sequences.

Larger Bullet Focus on Shoulders or Kyphosis

The basis for the following sequence is from Richard Rosen's Yoga Journal article, Sequences for Your Teaching. It specifically addresses rounded shoulders, hunched upper back, collapsed chest and a forward head. Because the originally published sequence has many advanced poses, we've included some suggestions for alternatives and variations where needed for different students.

To BeginEagle_Arms.jpg

  • Sukhasana (Easy) or Virasana (Hero) – You may wish to begin with a centering exercise and/or breathing practices. Consider neck stretches or preliminary shoulder opens with clasped hands or a strap with a wide grip.
  • Gomukhasana arms (Cow Face)
  • Garudasana arms (Eagle)

Heat Building & Arm Balances

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) & Plank Vinyasa
  • Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) – You may wish to substitute a series of Dolphin variations when forearm balance is not accessible.
  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) or Half Handstand at the Wall – You may also wish to present beginners with standling splits followed by handstand prep (shifting some weight into their hands).
  • Tadasana (Mountain) – Practice with Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) & focusing on spreading shoulder blades across back.
  • Parsvottanasana (Pyramid) – Practice with reverse Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) or clasping opposite elbows behind back
  • Prasarita Padottanasna II (Wide Legged Forward Fold II) – Perform this between sides of pyramid and afterward.
  • Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)
  • Vasisthasana (Side Plank) – Consider variations for beginners using one leg as a support.

Backbending & Upward Plank

  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge) 
  • Purvottanasna (Upward Plank) 2 to 3 times – Beginner option has knees bent in tabletop shape.
  • Dhanurasana (Bow) 2 to 3 times – Consider Bow, Half Bow or Locust as options.

Twist

  • Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja Sage Twist)

Cooling Inversions

  • Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)
  • Halasana (Plow)

To Finish

  • Savasana (Corpse)

Larger Bullet Basic Yin Practice

In The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy and Practice of Yin Yoga © 2012, Bernie Clark offers comprehensive philosophy and guidance to Yin Yoga plus many sequences for different purposes, including practices that focus on the spine, hips, particular energy meridians and more. Sarah Power's book Insight Yoga © 2008 is another expert source of Yin background, in-depth pose descriptions, and sequences to target energy meridians plus Yin/Yang sequences. The following is adapted from Clark's "Easy Beginner's" Yin practice.

upavista_2_bolsters.jpgIntention

Provide a basic yin practice which is a balancing approach to the more common yang practices. Yin practices target bones and connective tissue with a cooling practice of relaxed form & long holds.

Student Population

Studio

Level

Beginner

Length

30 to 60 min

Author/Source

This sequence is adapted from Bernie Clark's "Easy Beginner's" yin practice in The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy and Practice of Yin Yoga © 2012.

Sequencing Approach

  • Open with an awareness of breath & intention-setting
  • Practice a series of forward folds with an emphasis on inner legs
  • Practice backbends
  • Move to forward bends with an emphasis on outer legs/hips
  • Finish with happy baby, reclined twist & savasana

 

Pose Sequence

Opening

Begin in a cross-legged seat, Virasana (Hero), or Savasana (Corpse) – turn inward, spend a few moments aware of breath, & set an intention for the practice

Forward Folds: Inner Leg Focus

  • Butterfly (Baddah Konasana shape) + Windshield Wipers counterpose
  • Straddles (Upavista Konasana shape) + Windshield Wipers counterpose
    • Forward Fold over one leg
    • Forward Fold second side
    • Forward Fold middle
  • Child's Pose

Backbending

  • Sphinx
  • Seal (Bhujangasana shape)
  • Child's Pose

Forward Folds: Outer Legs/Hip Focus

  • Half Shoelace (Gomukhasana shape) + Windshield Wipers counterpose
    • Bottom leg straight
    • Second side

To Finish

  • Happy Baby
  • Reclining Twists
  • Savasana
  • Closing Meditation

 

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