Creativity in Yoga Sequencing

creativity in Yoga sequencingBy Kathryn Boland

How can we develop creativity in Yoga sequencing? Do you find yourself teaching the same poses, in the same sequences, over and over again? Do you wonder how to be more creative with your teaching, while still being knowledgeable and composed? We all have comfort zones, and for good reasons. From there we can lead from an authentic place, feeling strong and competent.

 

Staying there can significantly confine what we can learn, be, and do. In yoga, in particular, what we can learn and experience is infinite. How do we leave our comfort zones? It starts with the bravery and will to step out. But we have to have the tools to break the barrier that holds us in, as well.

Read on for some of those tools to develop creativity in Yoga sequencing. Yet first notice what might be leading you to stay in a comfort zone. Lack of knowledge about much else? Continue to study – from the books and from great teachers (more on that to come). Afraid of not being competent in much else? Know that you are enough, and that building competencies is a journey and not a destination. Afraid that it won’t be good enough? Come back to the yogic values of acceptance and non-attachment. Then, with these methods, step outside.

 

Home Practice – Free Flow

Take time every week for home practice. Try to let go of ideas of what will work for students or the places where you teach. That can (and should) come later. “Free-flowing” helps to find what makes sense and feels right, but which is often fresh and interesting. That can be set into a sequence later. Dancers, particularly in those in contemporary style, often use this method; improvisation can be a tool for generating intriguing and authentic new movement.

After “flowing”, write down or reflect upon (if the mental route is better or more realistic for you) useful transitions, movements, poses, et cetera that you came upon. You can formalize this into a written or mental sequence then, or soon after (more than twenty-four hours could have you forgetting things). At the very least, this method is a way to ensure that you’ve gotten in your own practice. You can most likely use what you’ve experienced in your free-flow to make sequencing for your students that is both creative and smart.

 

Take Class!

Just as engaging with your own intuitive and creative sense can lead you to fresh new sequencing, experiencing that of others can also help. Most teachers, no matter how fresh out of training, have some unique way of transitioning or including certain poses that make students think “Huh, I’ve never done it like that before!” Most yoga instructors are inherently creative – one reason, arguably, for why we are drawn to the field.

The result is that – excepting forms such as Bikram and Ashtanga Yoga, with the same set of poses practiced in the same sequence every class – no two class sequences are exactly alike. If you take class, you’ll most likely experience something new. You can take something from that creativity into your own classes. Adapt what you’ve experienced as fits you, or – if not adapted – be careful to credit from whom it came. And just as with “free-flowing” at home, with taking class, at least you’ve practiced!

Reading, Writing, and…Remembering

There are many, many great resources on yoga available online and in books (some more reputable and knowledgeable than others – be discerning about the sources you choose). Many online practice channels offer classes, sequences, and informative videos for free, or for a small monthly membership fee.

 

In addition to carving out a bit of time each week for home practice and taking class, try to delegate time to continuing education through such resources (it doesn’t have to be a lot; even one hour could include almost more information than your brain can take in at a time). Try to include space in that time for reflective writing – simple bullet points, or more expansive thoughts, about what you’ve covered in your reading.

This will most likely lead you to new sequencing approaches and/or inclusion of postures you might not often teach, or perhaps new cueing approaches (so students are still getting something fresh even if it’s postures that you often teach). If possible, review what you’ve written a couple of days later. Just as practice is slightly different for us everyday, these insights and reflections might strike us differently a second time around.

 

This writing can be in a notebook with your sequencing, as well as short notes after taking class – what was interesting, informative (as described), even how you might have approached something differently than your instructor. You could also have a section in the notebook for post-class evaluations – what worked, what didn’t, why any or all of that might be, et cetera.

With that could also be notes about what poses, transitions, et cetera you didn’t get to this week, or haven’t recently, and what you would like to work into your sequence the following or a subsequent week. It’s all useful reflection that, even if not consciously, adds to what you bring forth as a teacher. Offering your students creativity in Yoga sequencing with new and intriguing practice experiences is part of that. It can be a key part of what keeps them coming back again and again – thus, the eternal journey of practice. That can be a gift to not only those yogis, but – through them – to the world.

 

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