YOGA TEACHER TRAINING GUIDE
How to sequence a peak pose in your yoga class
As a yoga teacher, one of the fun parts of teaching a class is sequencing. But this part of our job can also be a challenging one. Or maybe you aren’t a yoga teacher but have been doing your own self-practice (GO YOU!) and would like to create your own yoga sequences. So, here is a really easy guide for you to learn how to sequence a peak pose in your yoga class.
We will take Wheel Pose – Urdhva Dhanurasana as an example in this article. First of all, look at the shape of the body in the peak pose. It is a backbend, with the Hands and Feet as the Foundation of the pose. It basically looks like an upside down U.
So, start from the foundation, observe how the hands are placed and how the feet are positioned. Then make your way up to the shoulders, spine, hips and legs.
From there, you can already see which parts of the body need to be warmed up and prepared before entering this pose. This is also known as component parts.
The shoulders will need to be worked on to achieve the open-ness in the chest (this is after all, a heart opener pose). Thus, adding in gentle heart openers in the warm up segment of the class, then building it up to more progressive heart openers will work on this action of rising through the sternum instead of the lower back.
Examples of this is: Puppy Pose -Anahatasana Wide Legged Forward Fold Variation C – Prasarita Padottanasana C Asanas where the hands can be interlaced behind the torso Shalabhasana Sphinx or Seal Pose
The spine will need to be warmed up to go into full extension (Wheel pose is considered a deep backbend). After a few rounds of Surya Namaskar, add in Preparatory Poses (poses that are gentler but similar to the Peak Pose) to introduce deeper backbends will assist the spine in preparing for full extension.
Examples of this: Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose Urdhva Mukha Svasasana – Upward Facing Dog Pose Camatkarasana – Wild Thing Pose Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose
Sufficiently stretching the hip flexors will allow for the lengthening of the anterior body, while strengthening the hip extensors will assist in engaging the muscles of the posterior body.
Examples of this: Utthan Pristhasana – Lizard Pose Anjaneyasana Crescent Lunge Warrior 1 – Vibhadrasana 1
The movement of lifting the hips up and down from the mat will help in giving the students a sense of familiarity as they enter the pose, it also works and prepares the quadriceps for the strength needed to lift and keep the hips up.
This is why Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is usually practiced before actually entering the full Wheel pose.
From here, you can already start to piece the sequence of the class. There is no hard and fast rule on how a class should be sequenced except, always keep it gentle in the warm up section of the class, advancing to deeper asanas after the Surya Namaskar section and finally, when every component part has been targeted, can you lead the class into a successful Peak Pose.
Remember to end your class with Neutralizing and Counterposes after the Peak pose, allowing them ample time to recalibrate the Spine, muscles and joints that have been worked on during the dynamic part of the class.
To recap how to sequence a peak pose
1. Select your Peak Pose
2. Look at the Foundation of the pose
3. Look at the shape of the body in the pose
4. Identify the Component parts (areas of the body which need to be sufficiently prepared and warmed up)
5. Start the building the class from gentle, targeted warm ups
6. Progressively build the class after the Surya Namaskar section with Preparatory Poses
7. Get the students to practice entering the pose with a Gentler or Modified version of the pose
8. Lead the whole class into the Peak Pose (hopefully by this point, the whole class is able to successfully enter and hold the Peak Pose)
9. End the class with Neutralizing + Counter Poses