This post is for all of my new yoga teachers out there and aspiring yoga instructors to-be! I am a proponent of tangible advice, and that’s what inspired me to write this post on how to structure a yoga class.
When I graduated from yoga teacher training, I had so many questions about how to actually teach. I did not know where to start! Given that I immediately decided to throw myself into preparing for auditions, I had to learn quickly. There are many different ways to structure a vinyasa yoga class, but my strategies are listed below.
Know Several Key Sequences
For the months of my yoga teacher training and the months following, I recited sequences whenever I could. Sometimes I was in the line at Trader Joe’s and other times, I was walking to school! In my free time, I learned the basics-sun salutations, warmups, cooldowns, etc.- by saying them out loud and repeating them to myself in my head. Gaining confidence in these basic sequences helped me to become more comfortable in what I would be teaching. I also knew how much time these sequences would take up in a class because I had rehearsed them.
Use a Stopwatch
This brings me to my next point. If you are planning to teach a class, it’s essential to be cognizant of the time so that you allocate enough time for the class to safely warm up and cool down. Because it can be difficult to gauge how long a set of sequences will take when you are just starting to teach, I recommend using a stopwatch during class. This will help you to keep track of the time and make adjustments during class if needed. I keep my stopwatch out of the view of my students because it can be distracting to look at the clock while practicing yoga.
Take Your Own Class
One thing I love about vinyasa yoga is how free flowing it is. There is an endless amount of poses and transitions. You can try something new each time and tap into your creative side. That said, if you’re working on some unique transitions or teaching poses that are new to you, record yourself teaching and take your own class. It might seem like one pose flows easily into another until you try it out and realize it feels a bit awkward. Experimenting with different poses while you develop sequences will help you to figure out which transitions will work best in a class setting.
Write It All Down
I love writing (if you couldn’t tell already) because it helps me to get my thoughts out and not forget things. Writing down your sequences will help you to keep a record of everything you’ve taught in the past. You can build upon these sequences in the future or use them again in a future class. You’ll never have that feeling of teaching a great sequence you wish you remembered if you have everything recorded! I like using Excel for my sequences, but keeping a notebook would also work just as well.
Divide Your Class Into Sections
Dividing your classes into sections will help ensure that you have created a balanced class. For a more specific example, this is how I would structure a 45-minute vinyasa class:
Grounding/Warmup: 5 minutes
Sun Salutations: 10 minutes
Flow: 15 minutes
Standing Poses: 5 minutes
Seated Poses/Cooldown: 5 minutes
Savasana: 3-5 minutes
And with that, I hope you have some more clarity around planning yoga classes – happy sequencing!