Teaching Tips: How I Sequence a Hatha Style Class

There are two main forms of sequencing I do depending on the class type. For a vinyasa or Flow class the main aim is to keep things flowing and in a Hatha style class (101, Basics, Power, Level 2/Advanced) it's kinda free for all in the sense that I don't have to think of transitions when sequencing. If we need to sit on the floor to do a pose we sit, if we need to suddenly stand - we stand, so long as everything has an intention or purpose. I also don't play music in any of my hatha style classes, simply because I don't want myself to depend on it as a silence filler or my students to depend on it as a distraction or motivator. Sometimes silence is golden. 

The main aim in general among all classes though is to stick to a theme & at some point come to a peak pose.
My teaching routine mostly rotates through these themes:

  • Hamstrings
  • Hips
  • Twisting
  • Backbends

Inversions & arm balances are then weaved through depending on the level of the class with the exception of Core & Yin classes where I stick to just that (meaning I ain't doing back bending in core class, even though back bending does require core strength).

So once I know the theme I'm working with I can start to decide what pose I want to teach within the theme. Sometimes there is something that just comes to mind, sometimes I look for inspiration on IG, Pinterest & books. I generally mostly try to teach something different every week unless it's a 101 or basics class which stays mostly the sameish so the students can see their own progression through the classes to help them know when it might be right for them to go to Power class etc.

So let's say I've got Back Bending & I decide my peak pose is Wheel Pose for a basics class. I know that to make a wheel pose accessible I've got to stretch the: quads, hip flexors, stomach, chest, neck & shoulders. 

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Once that is decided I can move on to sequencing.

Warm Up
I have a back bending warm up flow that never changes. It is a variation of the 12 step sun salutation. Sometimes I make variations of my variation. If that makes any sense.

Pretty much goes like this:
IN Arms up & reach back
EX Fold
IN Right leg back low lunge (backbend style)
EX Down dog
IN Plank
EX Knees chest chin (ashtangasana)
IN Cobra
EX Down dog
IN Right foot forward, low lunge (backbend style)
EX Step forward & fold
IN Arms up & back bend
EX Hands to heart
Left Side
This makes 1 round

First round for a basics class is slow & in depth, when teaching other levels I don't go into as much detail. Next 2 rounds are not really that much faster but just less instructions. So total 3 rounds. When teaching other levels I sometimes have the students finish the final round on their own with their own variations allowing them to "self practice" within their own pace. 

Main sequence:
The main sequence is based on what I need to stretch & strengthen, I mostly work from the bottom up with mini peak poses between to kind of amplify or define the reasoning behind the poses we’ve done.
Lizard quad stretch - both sides
Floor Chest/pec stretch
Shalabasana pulses
Shalabasana holds
Cobra
Bow pose x3

  1. Belly down thighs up
  2. Belly up thighs down
  3. Round all up

Camel pose at the wall x3
Knees 2 inches away from wall
Groins to wall
Highlight chest expansion created in bow pose

  1. Heels up
  2. Feet flat
  3. Reach for toes

Stand up
Shoulder stretch on wall
Wheel pose x5
Two blocks on at angle at wall

  1. First round will help you as a teacher to determine who may need assistance pushing themselves up.
  2. Second round, give them a second chance to push themselves up
  3. Third round for those who lack the strength to push up, place a bolsters or multiple blocks underneath head & back to reduce the amount of height they need to push up into. For those more stiff assist them yourself if you see it's necessary/possible a good idea.
  4. And so on.

I do 5 rounds because I've never felt 2 rounds is enough when I practice. I feel sometimes when you give a bigger number the constant repetition of trying will eventually get the student up to muster all their strength to push up. But at the same time if a student is tired, by all means they know they can rest.

Closing Sequence
Core work
Pigeon
Savasana

Thank you to those who requested for tips on sequencing & gave me inspiration to write this post! 

Just a little disclaimer: Sequencing is super subjective & not one sequence works for all. So I am by no means saying this IS the best sequence for wheel pose, but it has been effective for my students.