The Steps Along the Way

The past couple of days have been filled to the brim with yoga.  Sunday I awoke, worked on my lesson plan over coffee, did my morning pranayama, meditation, and sirsasana ritual, then practiced the sequence I had prepared from beginning to end to check the timing and polish over any rough spots.  After that, lunch and time with the boyfriend before heading off to teach.  Then, upon returning home, I had a nice dinner, jotted down some notes and reflections, and laid a rough foundation for my Monday class over a glass of wine (or two) before crawling into bed.

Monday morning, I did a bit of writing (coffee in hand, once again... freshly ground Costa Rican dark roast.  I can't put it down), practiced and polished my Monday class, lunched, took a nap, then got back on the mat for my personal practice before heading out to teach once again.  It may not be paying the bills yet (fingers crossed), but I am loving this yoga teacher life.

I'm sure not all teachers feel the need or have the time to do this, but I always practice the sequences I prepare for a class in full before presenting them.  Generally, I do this after my morning pranayama and inversion practice, so I'm already warm and prepared.  Yesterday, however, I decided to do the practice cold to really experience the sequence as most of my students experience it.  It was interesting.  I think feeling the practice as closely as possible to the way my students might feel it gave me insight into the appropriate timing and emphasis to use throughout the sequence.  It also instilled me with greater compassion for my students.  As I taught the class that evening, I remembered the sensations that arose in my body and knew better when to push and when to be most supportive.  The little revelations just keep coming.

I am studying hard and practicing with renewed dedication and purpose.  The relationship between my personal growth and what I can offer to others through my teaching is becoming more organic, balanced and sustainable.  I am optimistic and so excited to be on this journey, but I am diligent and humble, setting my feet mindfully on the path, careful not to crush any opportunities along the way.


  1. I don't get time to practice every single class anymore but I certainly try to practice new routines and flows. It's super helpful on a lot of levels.

  2. I always practice a new flow sequence before I teach it, firstly to make sure it works, and secondly to be able to properly instruct the transitions between poses.

    Once I know a sequence works, I add it to the little repertoire of these sequences in my head, and then I can mix and match them on the go in a class as the need arises.

    I used to meticulously plan new sequences for each class, but then I'd get thrown off when 10 beginners would show up for what was usually a more experienced class etc.

    Also, my own teacher advised us that students generally do better when they can become familiar with a sequence or a flow. He advised teaching the same sequences often, and only throwing new ones in every 3 months or so. I have to say that I can see his point: when students know a particular flow, you can really see how much better they come in and out of the poses.

    At the moment I am trying to practice to my playlists - and wow is it eye-opening! I experience them in a whole different way practicing than teaching.

  3. La Gitane - Re: teaching familiar sequences -- I think you're right. Moving through familiar sequences in a class, as a student, always allows me to practice with a little more focus. But, as a teacher, I feel pressured to come up with "new material," so to speak.

    I know what you mean about adding sequences that work to a repertiore in your head. This may reveal the absolute geekery at work in my mind, but I like to think of them as "modules" to be mixed and matched. :)

  4. I just love your blog and hearing all your thoughts!

    I love the familiar in class because it allows me to really focus on what I'm doing instead of having to look up or overthink things. I like the blend of both - something new to practice or a new sequence in which to practice and someting familiar.

    A couple of my best ever classes (as a student) were classes where the teacher masterfully built up to a pinnacle pose. By the time we got there I was so open and free I just floated into it and then right into savasana. I came out of the class like I was floating on air. I'd love to learn to sequence my own practices like that one day.

  5. I love reading about the yoga teacher life. The hardest part for me is that I feel so guilty to be this lucky. I can't let myself take a nap or read a book or enjoy my time when everyone else is working. So I bustle around all day and then when I get home from my last class at 9:30 PM I literally can't function.

    I love having a studio space where I can go to class an hour early and play with sequencing. There are some things that I teach over and over because I believe that they are the simplest most effective ways to strengthen the body. But, I have that fear of students getting bored. I try to be creative with my sequencing but find if I do a really long sequence that isn't based on the usual sun sal that I get hopelessly lost.

    I'm trying. And the more I write stuff down the better I get at doing unexpected sequences...

    Great post. I feel like I could just ramble about this forever! It is nice to have someone to share the experience with!

  6. Jodi B - Thanks for the love! I, too, love a teacher who can guide me into a pose I never would have thought to attempt with ease and skillful preparation. I discovered Hanumanasana and Bird of Paradise in this way, both poses I didn't know I was ready for at the time. They were glorious moments.

    Babs - Take a break, once in a while. Geez... :) You have nothing to feel guilty for. The work that you do is important and has value. And yes, it is great bouncing ideas off of the yoga blogging community, so many thoughtful teachers and students to generously share their thoughts.

  7. Completely agree on how great it is to practice the class before teaching it. I end up sometimes with a concept for a class in my noggin (eg, a process towards a peak pose or a physical or energetic theme), write it out, then when I try it on my body, I rewrite it as needed so it feels better.

    Right now, I have usually one particular block before my early morning class where I warm up by doing the planned sequence. Then through the week it's like I play around with the sequence, adapting the overall arc for the people who show up.

    There are times when I go wholesale off plan for a particular reason -- energy in the room, what I'm excited about teaching -- but usually the class ends up being drawn from blocks of a sequence I know quite well, or whatever I practiced that day on my own.

    It is VERY fun to geek out & share this with others. Thank you for bringing the topic up!!

  8. I envy your yoga life! I would love to immerse myself fully into teaching and practice. I practice before work and teacher after work on Wednesdays and at 6am on friday mornings. I try to use the same basic flow for my class structure and just use some new peak poses from time to time. But the overall structure is similar and to me it does help those regular students build some strength in certain poses. Love your blog!

  9. Great post, thank you! (And also great commnets :-))
    I also love practising the sequences, don't always get to, unfortunatelly (I too envy your "just yoga" life :-D.)In a class, though, it often turns out completely different. I also tend to forget the time - once I check the clock, and there is still a solid 45 or 50 minutes left, and then the next time there's only 15, and we haven't started the cooling poses yet!!!! Anyway, the most prepared classes are the best, no matter how they turn out.
    Best to all!