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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 Index of Class Plans/Sequences (in member section).

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Larger Bullet Hatha Sequence Template

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 Meditation &/or Breath Practices)
  2. Warm Updog_trad3.jpg
  3. Sun Salutes/Flow
  4. Standing Poses including Balance
  5. Arm Balances
  6. Inversions ("Warming" Inversions)
  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 while in some cases they may be categorized as Forward Bends, they can help prepare the body for Forward Bends as well.
  • 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 seen in some styles and/or are not suited for some students.
    • 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.
  • Teachers are generally advised to understand the philosophy behind the approach they are choosing and be experienced in that practice.

In the The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga © 1988, p 325, Swami Vishnu-devananda gives this sequencing order:

  1. Prayer
  2. Surya Namaskar
  3. Relaxation (two to three min; longer if required)
  4. Headstand
  5. Shoulderstand
  6. Fish Pose (to be followed by a brief period of relaxation
  7. Forward Bends
  8. Backbends
  9. Twists
  10. Balance Poses
  11. "Leg and foot exercises (sitting)"
  12. Standing Poses
  13. "Complete relaxation for ten to fifteen minutes (end of physical exercises)"
  14. Abdominal exercises
  15. Breath Practices
  16. Meditation

Larger Bullet Ashtanga Sequence

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

Sun Salutesrev_triangle_trad.jpg

Standing Poses

"The Primary Series"

"The Intermediate Series"

  • Pashasana (Noose)
  • Krounchasana (Heron)
  • Salabhasana 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 Mayurasana (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"

Larger Bullet Restorative for Stress or Insomnia

The basis for the following sequence is from Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times © 1995 by Judith Lasater.

To BeginLegs_Up_Wall_bolster.jpg

Opening

Inversion

Forward Bend

To Finish

See Restoratives Sequencing for Sequencing Considerations and more Sample Sequences.

Larger Bullet Shoulders or Kyphosis Focus

The following sequence is based on one by Richard Rosen, Yoga Journal, Sequences for Your Teaching. It specifically addresses rounded shoulders, hunched upper back, collapsed chest and a forward head. 

To BeginEagle_Arms.jpg

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 Padottanasana B (Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold) – 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

Twist

Cooling Inversions

To Finish

Larger Bullet Yin (Basic) Practice

happy_baby_hands_ankles.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

Beginner

Length

30 to 60 min

Author/Source

The following is adapted from Bernie Clark's "Easy Beginner's" Yin practice iThe Complete Guide to 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

  • Sukhasana (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 (Baddha 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 (Balasana)

Backbending

Forward Folds: Outer Legs/Hip Focus

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

To Finish

 Larger Bullet Sivananda Sequence

Opening Chants

  • Om Om Omheadstand_suptd_traditional.jpg
  • Dhyana Slokas
  • Shanti Mantra

Pranayama

Warm Up

Inversions

Forward & Backbending

Finishing

Closing Chants

  • Om Om Om
  • Maha Mrityunjaya Mantras
  • Peace Mantras

Sources: Yoga Sequencing © 2012 p 467 and Light Yoga Space

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