The intention is the key when preparing our sequences. The intention defines the action. Even a simple and clear word “yes” can have so many different meanings depending on the intention. Similarly there are so many ways of putting one Asana after the other, and our prime guide on doing this will be the intention. So, let’s talk about intention of a Yoga sequence briefly.
The Yogic wisdoms tells us that everything matters. Our actions, our thoughts, our emotions, our relations… Through yoga we learn to respect our own power of creating realities; we learn that we need to devote all our actions to a higher purpose, rather than just act out of habit, or norm, or just amusement. This does not mean that there will be no room for amusement and joy in our lives, it only means that even when we are having fun we need to be aware that we are part of this magical, beautiful universe and cherish our existence respectfully.
Same goes for our Asana practices.
The Asana practice is not about making jaw dropping shapes with our bodies. The reason, the core reason, why we practice is always deeper than that. If asked, each one of us would answer the question about why we practice yoga in infinite number of different ways.
As a Yoga teacher it’s very important to think about the answers to these questions: “Why do you practice Yoga?”, “Why are you passionate about teaching Yoga?”, “What makes you step on that mat each time?”.
Yoga is always a spiritual practice. Yogis are after connection on a deeper level. As people of such a fast-paced society Asanas are our meditative seats. We aim for spiritual growth, freedom from our attachments. A sequence should aim for cultivating personal growth. But obviously this is a little bit to much to expect from a Yoga Asana sequence.
So besides the spiritual growth we shape our sequences around smaller goals that will help the Yoga practitioners in their spiritual journeys. To sum up, the first key when preparing a sequence is to set an intention, a goal for that particular practice, something that can be achieved through a single practice.
There can be different kinds of intentions for your sequences.
You can set a physical aim for your yoga sequence like opening the hips, strengthening the shoulders, relieving the tension in the back. Another aim might be achieving a certain pose (a peak pose). Your sequence might focus on relieving back pain, going deeper in a certain pose, stabilizing the knee joint, stretching the hamstrings, detoxification of the body and so on.
Your yoga sequence might have a mental aim, like dealing with stress or anxiety problems, calming the mind, improving concentration, lifting the mood, dealing with depression. The intention of your yoga sequence can also be an energetic or a spiritual one, like increasing the energy level, balancing the chakras, working on a specific chakra, practicing compassion, working on contentment. As you can see you have a wide variety of choices.
General rules to prepare balanced sequences for a sustainable practice
First things first: before giving tips on how to incorporate the conceptual themes in your Yoga sequences, I would like to talk about a few basic guidelines to follow when preparing Yoga sequences.
Regardless of your intention there are a few guidelines that you will want to follow to maintain an energetic balance and a sustainable practice.
- Begin slowly and gently just to let the body and the mind know that it’s time to practice. Nothing too deep, nothing too strong. Just saying “hi” to the practice.
- Warm up the muscles through dynamic but simpler Asanas. In order to safely go deep and strong into the poses, the muscles need to be warmed up. One of the best ways of doing that is the Sun Salutations.
- After the body is all warmed up, it’s time to deepen the practice through challenges. Especially, focusing on the standing poses, some standing and arm balances will keep the energy levels high.
- When you are done with the peak point of your sequence, its time to wind down. Get low and relax through seated poses and stretches.
- As you get close to the Savasana you want to make sure that the mind and the energy levels are ready for a peaceful Savasana. Best way is to soften further through supine Asanas. Maybe a few twists, or gentle inversons…
Finally, the ultimate relaxation practice: Savasana.
This seemingly easy pose is one of the most challenging poses in between Yoga Asanas. Most of us are unable to let go. We can’t let go of the memories, of the stuff we have, of the toxic relationships, of the unhappy lifestyles we choose, of the unsatisfying jobs. Okay, I will stop now because this is getting sad and the list is inexhaustible. But there is hope. One step at a time. We can begin with letting go of the control of our bodies in Savasana. It might look small and simple but it is powerful.
Savasana teaches us that we are powerful enough to let go. It teaches us how resistant we are. And through Savasana we discover ways of letting go.
Finally, the ultimate relaxation practice: Savasana. This seemingly easy pose is one of the most challenging poses in between Yoga Asanas. Most of us are unable to let go. We can’t let go of the memories, of the stuff we have, of the toxic relationships, of the unhappy lifestyles we choose, of the unsatisfying jobs.
Okay, I will stop now because this is getting sad and the list is inexhaustible. But there is hope. One step at a time. We can begin with letting go of the control of our bodies in Savasana. It might look small and simple but it is powerful. Savasana teaches us that we are powerful enough to let go. It teaches us how resistant we are. And through Savasana we discover ways of letting go.
Preparing a Chakra focused class
It is also possible to set a physical intention and an energetic one, and aim for both of them simultaneously. Especially if you know the locations and central issues of chakras you will easily find ways of creating yoga sequences for working on both intentions. If you are not sure about the chakras don’t worry, here is the very basic information that can help you:
The 1st Chakra: The Root Chakra.
Its location is the pelvic floor. You can reach and work toward balancing this chakra through grounding poses. The main issues of this chakra is about the survival of our physical body in this world.
The 2nd Chakra: The Sacral Chakra.
Its location is the sacral area, a few centimeters below the belly button. In your Asana practice you can reach this chakra through hip opening poses. The main issues that are related to this Chakra are the sexual are emotional issues. You will have a deeply inspiring yoga sequence if you focus your asanas on hip opening and introduce thought provoking speech about embracing sexuality.
The 3rd Chakra: The Solar Plexus Chakra.
Its location is, as you have already guessed, the solar plexus. If you create a sequence that is filled with core work you will be able to reach this Chakra. The central issue of this chakra is the inner or personal power. So you can easily theme your core focused class around self esteem and you will be able o deliver a powerful Yoga Asana session.
The 4th Chakra: The Hearth Chakra.
Again, you can easily guess the location: yes, it’s the chest. Both Pranayama practices and chest opening Asanas will let you target the Hearth Chakra.
The 5th Chakra is the Throat Chakra.
The location is the neck. Pranayama practices helps balancing the Throat Chakra. Movements of cervical spine, poses like cats and cows, Lions pose, Fish pose will also help balance the Throat Chakra. The main issue of the Throat Chakra is communication. İntoroducing though provoking ideas about communication is your classes that focuses on the 5th Chakra sequence will make the flow more powerful. You may also encourage making sounds during the class, like sighing or chanting mantras.
The 6th Chakra is the third eye chakra.
As we move up towards the higher Chakras the energy of the Chakras gets subtler. There are not as many asanas for the Third Eye Chakra. Asanas like Child’s pose where you place your forehead on the ground are Asanas that might be used to target the Sixth Chakra. Another thing that you can do in your 6th Chakra sequence is the Eye Yoga. It’s a very modern style of yoga where you work out your eye muscles which are otherwise just looking to a small flat screen all day. The 6th Chakra is all about intuition. So a blindfolded Asana session can be a powerful 6th Chakra practice.
The 7th Chakra is the Crown Chakra.
It is located at the crown of the head. The Crown Chakra is the home of the inner wisdom which can guide you to liberation. So a 7th Chakra class will be a highly spiritual one with a lot of focus on meditation. There are a few Asanas like Headstand where you can send more energy toward the crown and put some pressure there to help purify the energetic blocks around the Crown Chakra.
I have more tips for you guys. Articles about preparing sequences focusing on a peak pose and a body part are coming soon. Keep following this space or for a deeper immersion join us in our yoga teacher training courses.