A Class Plan – AACK!

Last night in yoga teacher training, we did our first “class plan” as a group.  The plan consisted of a step back flow, some sun salutations, and then two standing flows (we stopped there).  Remember how, a few weeks ago, I was a little worried about this whole venture and my ability?  Well, then I did the step back flow and sun salutations and chanting over and over until I had them cold.  And that made me feel better.  And then last night happened.  Yikes!

Image by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr

As we sat on our mats trying to figure out what pose reasonably came next (that would work in the body efficiently, make sense, and fit in with the overall goal of moving toward backbends later in the class), everything I knew left my brain.  All Sanskrit poured directly out of my ears onto the hardwood and seeped between the boards into the earth.  Even my awareness of the poses in English became almost impossible to verbalize.  Holy hairy heck!  When I got up and actually tried to move from one pose into something else, I could come up with something, but I still could not verbalize it.  I couldn’t find the words in any way – they just would not come out of my head.  Wow.

So, yeah, ok.  That was disconcerting.  But, I’m working on my santosa, you know.  So, it is what it is.  What can I learn from it.  Well, a few things.

  1. I need to practice my Sanskrit way way more.  I have an app on my iPhone called Yoga Quiz, that is virtual flashcards.  So, I’ll be doing that when not at home and studying my asana sheets more when I am at home.
  2. I need to think through what the best way is for me to plan.  Maybe I need to actually move on my mat to come up with the poses and then write them down.
  3. I still need a lot more work/thought on the purpose of each pose, because things beyond the obvious are just not yet coming up for me.
  4. I want to know more about what students want/like in a class structure.

Number 1-3 are probably my individual issues, though I would certainly take any recommendations anyone has for facilitating these particular goals.  Number 4, however, is going to require some help.  I need to hear from other yoga practitioners.

So, tell me, dear reader, what kinds of preferences do you have for class sequencing?  Do you  like a lot of poses in a standing series before the next vinyasa?  Do you like a building in intensity to a peak point and then back down (sort of a bell curve) or more of a rolling hill sort of pattern?  Do you find it good/bad/neither/both when the class is clearly built around heading for a particular pose or type of pose?  Any other sequencing tidbits that might help me out?

Thanks in advance, and namaste,


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3 Responses to A Class Plan – AACK!

  1. I don’t have any yoga class suggestions, considering that the few times I did a hybrid yoga/pilates/tai chi, I was sure that the instructor was the devil.

    Still – I feel your pain on freezing up. I just hate that. 🙁

  2. Maiga says:

    Oh Lorin! I swear, it all shakes out. Breathe! I feel you though. I think we all have those moments. In response to your questions: as a student, personally, I like a class that maybe takes a “rolling” approach: intense, relief, intense, relief while also building towards a peak pose. Here’s what I mean: you can build towards bird of paradise by anatomically working open students hips, etc. in a way that is challenging but not punitive. So the peak pose can be a guide but not the ultimate challenge. Working towards bird of paradise you might explore bound side angle (crazy intense), all kinds of funky business in lizard, asta vakrasana, a super challenging arm balance that also helps integrate and open the body towards bird of paradise.

    So I often use a peak pose as a guide. Vinyasa, as you know, stems from ashtanga. Those early flows are classically designed to heat, strengthen, and align the body. Then vinyasa gets creative. We can make use and work a particular aspect of the body or aspect of the theory.

    I also read that ideal classes are challenging but allow for modifications so that all students in an open level class have a place to grow. That’s super true for Yogawood. It’s great to offer a practice that can take students to bird of paradise and asta vakrasana. However, this same class can be amended to allow a student to stay in extended side angle without migrating to bird of paradise and maybe stay in dwi pada raja kapotasana and not move to asta vakrasana. Tell me if I’m making sense or am overwhelming. If overwhelming… I’m sorry!

    I also like practices that get us standing and on the mat. I like being up and down because I then don’t know what’s coming next and losing my anticipation helps me stay in the moment. However, I’ve had students say they don’t like that. I also have had students say they like practices that always include trikonasana and parsvakonasana. Because of that, I almost always include those two in that first flow! They’re important poses, but they’ve become foundational to me given this student’s feedback!

    Bottom line: each student has different expectations, wants, and desires. Ultimately, all we can do is offer it up. And please don’t worry about freezing– I think it will all come together and really already is. You already said you want to study each asana more– I found that really helpful. It helped me understand some of the purpose behind each shape so that I could begin choreographing more effectively. I can’t wait to take your class!

    • theveganasana says:

      You are such a fabulous cheerleader! I feel very lucky to have you leading the way for me and appreciative that you take the time to read my musings 🙂 I’ve read these comments twice already – they are very helpful. Thanks so much!

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