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Where to start? Sequencing and yin yoga.

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Sometimes there is just too much choice! If you thought more choice would bring more freedom, but like me, you find it just brings a greater sense of confusion this blog is for you.

This week, I was looking forward to planning some yin yoga workshop sequences - I spend a lot of time preparing a class by thinking about how each pose affects the emotional and physical body, what order of poses would be most effective and how to make the transitions as smooth and easy as possible. I've been teaching a lot of 1hr classes recently but Ive got some deliciously long 2hr workshops coming up to enjoy planning.

The question is, how to decide to theme the class? There are so many options, for example focusing on a key target area like the hips, back or shoulder and working all around that area in a series of long slow holds. Or maybe going for series of a chakra based poses - started with grounding in the root chakra and moving up along the spine to the crown and back down again. Ive been studying chinese meridian theory recently, and could work through one of the main meridian pathways, such as liver for detoxing and releasing stored anger and agression - always useful after the Christmas season. Then there is the theory of the different layers of the body, the "yin sandwich", where you follow a series of poses that work all the way through one of either the front, middle or back layer. I really enjoy classes myself when you start with simple toe based yang movements and move up through the body, bringing in winding or pawanmuktasana flows to release stagnancies. Then are the super slow classes with just a few favourite poses held for 5mins like sleeping swan or banana-asana where it seems the longer you hold them the more juicy you feel. Alternatively I could try to align the class to the changing season, the elements or moon-phases and relate them to different meridians and internal organs. Yes, the choice is very overwhelming. Where to start?

Suddenly planning a traditional vinyasa flow sequence is starting to sound much easier. Some breathing, a warm up, building up some heat with a flow usually based around sun saluations, working up to a challenging peak pose, then adding in some balances and twists as you cool down towards your inversions and close.

But with yin its a bit more complicated. Every pose is both a mini-meditation and a needleless accupuncture as you stress and release different areas, encouraging the clearing of blockages - often providing an emotional release. So a lot of care needs to be taken in managing the energy of the whole class - after all these are fairly short classes - and with each pose being held 3-5 minutes and resting rebounds of a few minutes between the poses, you are limited to the number of poses you can even include.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice on sequencing I was given by the highly experience advanced yin teacher trainer, Regina Kerschbaumer of, was that as long as you have included poses that work on each of the six ranges of motion of the spine, you will have a balanced class. So that means a forward and back bend, left and right lateral stretches and left and right twists. This principle makes the whole question of sequencing seem quite simple and logical. If you can get that right, the rest is just about what feels good!

And this is probably true as well for when we are feeling the most overwhelmed in any aspect of our lives - we need to try to come back to a few simple core principles to carry us through. Yoga, like life, is supposed to make you feel good - so enjoy!

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