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You've finished your online yoga teacher training program and are ready to begin the rewarding journey that is guiding others deeper into the practice of yoga. But now that it's time to sequence yoga classes regularly, maybe you're feeling a bit stuck or uninspired.
Don't worry! Planning a yoga class can seem like a daunting task—even for veteran yoga teachers. This is especially true if you're trying to craft unique, creative sequences that help you stand out from the sea of sameness—yet still promise safe, powerful, and effective yoga classes for your students.
At Full Circle, we're passionate about helping you plan purposeful yoga classes that, in turn, have a more significant impact on your students. If you're ready to expand your toolkit and bring your yoga students into profound mind-body-soul awareness, here are our top tips for planning compelling yoga classes.
Planning A Yoga Class: 10 Tips For Creative + Effective Sequences
1. Have A Yoga Class Plan
The first step of planning a yoga class is simple: take the time to have a class plan! While many yoga teachers think they can "wing it" on the spot, it's always worth the effort to take a few moments and intentionally write out your yoga class plan. We recommend having a notebook specifically for your yoga sequences and any quotes, teachings, or other themes you would like to bring to your yoga students. Never underestimate the value of showing up for your yoga students with intentionality and purpose.
2. Consider A Theme
Adding a theme to your yoga class is a compelling way to bring your students into deeper awareness and purpose during practice. New to themed yoga classes? In that case, our Theme Your Yoga Classes course is a fantastic way to expand your teaching knowledge, step into becoming a more intuitive teacher, and develop both personally and as a yoga teacher.
In our Theme Your Yoga Classes course, we explore the history of themed yoga classes and cover a wide variety of yoga class topics, including winter and summer solstice, spring and fall equinox, chakras, deities, moon phases, and more. For each yoga theme, you'll receive an entire printable class plan of asanas, a Spotify yoga class playlist, and even a recording of our founder, Jolie, teaching the class!
Using themes when planning your yoga classes is one of the most impactful ways to elevate your students' yoga experience. Whether you're new to themes or merely looking for unique ideas to incorporate into your sequences, check out our Theme Your Yoga Classes course for inspiration.
3. Flow Towards A Peak Pose
Whether you're teaching beginners who might have just finished an online yoga teacher training program or more advanced yoga students, incorporating a peak pose into your yoga sequences is an excellent way to structure your class. When planning a yoga class, your peak pose will typically be the most challenging asana or posture.
To lead your students into the peak pose safely, you'll want to integrate asanas into your flow that prepare your students' minds and bodies. Consider all the components of your peak pose, and then choose postures to warm up the body. For example, if you're working towards Wheel Pose, you'll want to ensure our yoga class sequencing includes back bending, open hip flexors, core work, and external rotation in the upper arms—all essential factors of Wheel Pose.
One of the top benefits of planning a yoga class around a peak pose is that your students will leave confident and empowered—and with a clear idea of the path they need to take to move deeper into the posture you've chosen.
4. Have An Anatomical Focus When Planning A Yoga Class
Like planning a yoga class around a peak pose, having an anatomical focus can enhance your practice by providing a safe, effective way to move deeper into a specific area of the body. From yoga class sequences that target the hamstrings to the core to the lower back to the brain, the ideas for planning an anatomical yoga class are virtually endless. You might also consider leading yoga classes for runners, surfers, or other athletes, targeting muscle groups that you know could use the extra love!
5. Practice Your Flow
Have you ever been in a yoga class when, even if you couldn't put your finger on it, something about the sequencing just felt a bit off? It's critical to remember that we never want to sacrifice the effectiveness of our students' yoga practice for the sake of creativity. One easy way to avoid this is to practice your yoga flow before you teach it. Notice if any transitions feel uncomfortable or awkward, and take the time to adjust them.
This is why we include a live recording of Jolie teaching each theme of our Theme Your Yoga Classes online course. We want you to feel the movements and experience the class the way your students will so that you can, in turn, better lead them through their unique practice.
Tip: No matter your students' levels, it's always okay to return to the basics! All yoga students can benefit from moving deeper into the postures, no matter where they are on their journey. Don't be afraid to slow down and return to the basics with your students.
6. Assess Your Students
While we advocate planning your yoga classes, it's vital to remain present and fluid with your students so you can best meet their needs during the class. While it's a luxury not afforded to many yoga teachers, knowing your students' abilities, ages, injuries, and goals in advance can help you better curate a yoga class sequence that meets their needs.
7. Adjust To All Levels
Now that you've assessed your yoga students, you can adjust to their levels throughout the class. This could include:
-Offering less complicated variations of postures for beginners
-Leading experienced students into more advanced versions of the postures
-Guiding your students on the use of props like blankets, bolsters, blocks, and straps
-Scrapping a peak posture or anatomical focus if it's clear it's not going to work for your students!
8. Keep it Linear and Balanced
While you're planning your yoga class sequence, keep in mind that the flow should be linear and balanced. Typically, it's best to avoid working extensively on the left side before practicing the same posture on the right side. Many yoga class flows also follow the basic structure of grounding postures, sun salutations, standing and balancing postures, seated postures, and then savasana. This is something that we cover extensively in our yoga teacher training programs so that you can feel confident in crafting a yoga sequence that is safe and effective for your students.
9. Get Inspiration From Other Yoga Teachers
Anyone who is an expert at their craft will tell you the same advice: learn from others who have gone before you! While we don't advocate copying other teachers' sequences pose for pose, we encourage you to go deeper in your yoga practice. Absorb knowledge from other yoga teachers, and you'll learn postures, transitions, and themes that will inspire and mold your unique modality of yoga teaching.
10. Ask For Feedback
Don't be afraid to ask for feedback from mentors and students! Just because you are a yoga teacher doesn't mean anyone expects you to be a perfect human being. Constructive criticism can inspire you to plan safer, more effective yoga classes. Ongoing yoga teacher trainings and retreats are an excellent way to receive such feedback from respected yoga educators and support you on your ongoing yoga journey.
Want to start planning better yoga classes? We're now offering planned-for-you themed yoga classes!
What other tips do you have for planning yoga classes that are both creative and effective for your students?
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