Leena here, Owner and Director of The Branches. I’m going to let you peek under the hood of my sequencing brain. If you’ve ever wondered how and why yoga teachers choose to sequence their classes in a certain way, this post will give you some ideas about how poses relate, and how they can build on one another, particularly towards a pinnacle or apex pose.
Let’s take the pose Utthita Hasta Padangustasana or Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose. I’d like to introduce you to it’s whole family.
So many asanas have close ties to other poses and I like to think of each pose having a family tree of relations: some shapes clearly give birth to other, or share a lineage, one building upon the next. You could think of Warrior 2 and Triangle being a married couple, or cat and cow being siblings. Poses also have what I like to think of as “family dynamics”: common pitfalls and also patterns of engagement/preparations/activations that are helpful.
If Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose is the daughter, here’s a lineage:
1. THE GRANDMOTHER: Reclined Hand (or strap) to Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangustasana)
2. THE CROCHETY AUNT: Triangle Table – with activations for hip, hamstring and groins (crochety – get it?)
3. THE FATHER + MOTHER: Warrior 2 and Triangle Hinges (Parsvottanasana and Trikonasana)
4. THE OLDER BROTHER: Tree (Vrksasana)
5. Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
You can see videos of these poses in action here.
What’s my logic?
All of these poses share similar shape in the hips: external rotation and flexion.
#1, 3, 5 share very similar shapes in the hip and the whole top/front leg. #2 always gives her opinionated opinion and gets you ready for what’s to come. 4 and 5 are siblings because of being both standing balancing poses and tree naturally prepares you for the more challenging balance.
For our second shape, let’s do some genealogy for Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana or Bridge Pose.
Bridge is a pose that can be used in lots of sequences and for different purposes. It could be part of warm ups, show up in potpourri (a little bit of everything sequence), OR you can really break it down and build it up in a pinnacle sequence to deepen your understand and experience of the pose.
Let’s get into the weeds a bit… In bridge pose we have the following joint shapes:
– Spine is extended (back bend)
– Hips are extended (moving forward/up)
– Shoulders are extended (moving behind the body)
– Knees are flexed (bent to 90 degrees)
Here’s how the family tree I’ve chosen relates to and prepares you for bridge:
1. Locust and crocodile pulses: warm up the spinal, hip and shoulder extension
2. Kneeling Lean Backs: big time hip extension prep
3. Dancer Presses: warm up hamstrings, hip extension, shoulder extension and knee flexion
4. Forward folds with arms in strap: shoulder extension prep
5. Bridge Pose: ta-da!
See photos of these poses here!
In our upcoming Continuing Ed Module called *Sequencing with Purpose*, we’ll share a range of sequencing techniques from potpourri to therapeutic to pinnacle and beyond. You’ll get intimate with the family trees of poses, so really any pose could become a fascinating pinnacle pose to work with. We’ll also share invaluable tools for seamlessly integrating non-asana movements like mobility drills and strength training into your practices/classes.
Fun Facts about Sequencing with Purpose:
⭐15+ hours of content and learning!
⚡Sliding Scale Pricing
⭐All online, and recordings are yours to keep for a full year.
⭐For Yoga Teachers AND dedicated students!
Learn more about this offering here.