When I practice yoga, I usually follow yoga sequences that my instructor showed me. However, I would like to create my own sequences based on what I feel like practicing on a given day. Are there any easy to follow rules or guidelines to creating one's own yoga sequences? Ricardo C.
Hi there, Ricardo. Starting your own at home yoga practice is a very difficult thing that many people tend to avoid, so cheers to you making an effort to begin one! When instructors go through their teacher trainings, they’re taught how to create effective and enjoyable yoga sequences for their classes. One of the greatest parts of having a home practice is being able to test out those sequences and, even if you’re not a teacher, being able to focus on specific areas in your practice or in your body that you want to work on.
First, I think it’s important to sit before you practice on your own and listen to your body. What is it telling you? What poses are you craving? What poses do you want to avoid? Maybe you feel really energized, or the opposite. Take all of it in and eventually your answer for what avenue to take will arise. Take a few breaths, set your intention, and you’re ready to go.
Next, I always start off my asana with a few feel-good, loosen your muscles and your joints poses. These usually come in the form of cat-cow, neck rolls, wrist stretches, etc.
Then, throw in a few sun salutations. I like to do a few rounds of Surya Namaskara A, the B, then a few moon salutations (Chandra Namaskara). These do a really good job of heating up your body and getting it ready for the poses you want to do.
Now comes the really fun part- the meat of your practice. Remember when you sat and breathed, and you listened to yourself to figure out what you want in your yoga time? This is where you really put it into action with some standing poses, balancing poses, energizing inversions, backbends, etc. Be sure to play around with both sides (left and right) and hold each pose on each side for the same amount of breaths.
By this point you may be sweaty and tired, so begin your cool down. Forward folds and twists are really nice, as well as cooling or restorative inversions. Take some gentle backbends. Remember to keep your breath alive! At this time in practice, most people tend to forget about their breathing and get sleepy and lazy.
Be sure to add a few child’s poses in there throughout your practice if you feel like you need it. There’s no shame in taking a rest and tuning back into your breath and intention. And, of course, always take savasana.
The main things to focus on when creating your own sequence is to make it well-rounded. Don’t only practice handstanding, or only sit in a forward bend and call it a day. Yoga sequences that flow well and give attention to the whole body are the best ones. Allow yourself to spice up your practice, but also be sure to give yourself some rest.
The beauty of all of this is being able to do all of the poses that you really want to do, but be sure to throw in a few of the poses you find yourself constantly avoiding! I promise, your love for those poses is sure to grow.