I have been asked quite a few times now about how to start a home yoga practice (which I wrote about here) and also how to create more creative yoga sequences, either as a teacher to build into your classes, or as a student to work into your own practice.
Although I do have a few tips that I will outline here, it ultimately comes down to you working to understand and listen to your body and its intuitive movement.
Yoga sequencing doesn’t have to be difficult, but I know as a new teacher or student, it can feel like a daunting task.
So here it goes, how to create that creative flow we all seek to find:
- Learn to listen to your body more and the mind less.
I get it, the mind likes the chatter, a lot. But in order to create more fluid, fun, or creative sequences, we need to work on tapping out of what the mind wants us to do, and more into what the body needs us to do. For example, I find that one of the easiest asanas to practice this is in Bharmanasana, table top. Once in table top, move through a cat/cow sequence, using your inhales to soften your belly for cow, and exhales to fuel the arch in your spine towards the ceiling. Then close your eyes. Start moving to your breath and allow any other natural movements to happen- a neck roll, changing the positioning of your hands, swaying your hips or ribcage. This tuning inward practice can be done in nearly every asana.
2. Use a mantra to give your sequence purpose.
Whether your mantra is a word, phrase, or feeling- allow it to anchor you into a purpose for your flow. What do you want to feel by the end? If your word is power- or, “I am powerful,” ask yourself what postures make you feel the most powerful and go from there. My favorite word to hold on to throughout practice is, “expansive”. I let that word guide me into feeling and being more expansive!
3. Turn on the music!
I know practicing to music isn’t for everybody- but I think for most people it is a very powerful tool to tap into the body and move more fluidly. Depending on my mood, I will either find a random playlist to put on shuffle, or maybe pick one of my own class playlists. Let the music move you and let go of expectations of what your practice looks like, and pay more attention to how it feels.
4. Creative doesn’t mean complicated or hard!
Don’t get creative mixed up with complicated or difficult. Some of the most creative flows can the most simple of postures. Of course, creative is subjective- but what qualifies as creative to me is when I feel surprised on the mat- maybe I find myself facing backward, or maybe I find myself having fun with a transition I wouldn’t normally do. It isn’t always the class that challenges me the most physically, but the one that surprises and excites me throughout.
5. Let it be fun.
I know this might seem obvious, but sometimes we get really serious on the mat! Which has it’s time and place. But creativity, although influenced by seriousness, does not breed well with a burrowed brow. I find that in yoga, creativity often comes from fluidity- let it feel like a dance. So instead of thinking, I MUST get into certain poses (that is the mind talking), allow the body to guide you there, it usually takes you where you need to go.
6. Think about what YOU want in a class.
Is it important to think about your students and what their needs are? Yes, of course. But you are also a student. Think about what types of classes feel creative to YOU and harness that energy into your own as you build your next class. Do you love Vinyasa classes that have zero Chaturangas? Do you love standing transitions? Hands free transitions? Perfectly balanced sequences that use counter stretches to guide the movement? Find what you love and that will naturally become your most authentic teaching.
7. Write down that cool transition!
When I first started teaching, I couldn’t wait to get to the day where I didn’t write out the class I planned. The day I could show up, ask the class what their bodies need that day, and go from there. However, there is ALWAYS a place for planning. I have a journal dedicated to little sequences and transitions. It’s something that I can come back to whenever I feel stuck.
Yoga is a both a disciplined and free flowing practice, so when you aim to bring creativity to the mat, know that there is no right or wrong. Trust your intuitive movement, learn from others, and guide from the heart.
Have any favorite creative sequencing tips? Drop them below in the comments! ❤