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Go With Your Flow! Teaching Yoga Tune Up® Flow

In my last post, I shared some ideas to get your creative juices flowing (see what I did there?) This week, I’ll address strategies for teaching a Yoga Tune Up® Flow class. Let’s start with the humble sun salutation.

How can we attain the clear mind of a sun salutation while doing no harm?

Take the structure of a vinyasa class and modify it. Create repetition with judiciously placed mini-vinyasas. Teach Jill Miller’s half happy baby, bridge lifts, moon rises or make up your own. Insert similar poses into your sequencing. For example, instead of a chatturanga, teach ochos (plank variations).

Insert YTU moves into traditional poses, such as adding pranic bath to warrior II. Discover transitions that make physical sense. Spend time experimenting on your mat. The movement vocabulary of YTU is rooted in that of yoga so this is not a stretch. Your class is limited only by your imagination.

With my YTU education, I now speak about breath, movement and proprioception. Where are we in space? What happens between the poses? The transitions. How do we move from child’s pose to down dog? Through a sun salutation? From half moon to warrior II? From moonrises to revolved triangle, to lizard?

What else makes this flow class become YTU?

Language. I have changed the way I speak as a yoga teacher in many ways — from a qualitative vocabulary to a quantitative one — from ambiguous to unambiguous — from poetry to anatomy. I teach real physical ideas that impact daily life. “Lift your heart wings” becomes “lift your sternum.” Through language comes self-awareness and embodiment. I point to the skeleton. I help my students navigate their bodies, discovering their bones and their muscles. They become explorers themselves, in a context that is comfortable and familiar; a vinyasa flow class.

Balls and props. It is important not to disrupt the flow to stop, look around, locate and grab a block or strap. Consider what props you will need and be sure everyone has them handy before you begin class. Design your therapy ball moves to fit smoothly into the sequencing. Before and after always works but you can still insert a roll during the class. For example,”pec, pec, pec” before locust or a shoulder or glute roll-out before bridge.

Context. Know why you are teaching and tell your students. Explain your passion. Teach what you know. Teach to your clientele. Be creative, innovate and teach honestly. Your unique YTU class will flow.

Liked this article? Read Why Words Matter

About This Author

Nancy is a certified Level 1 Yoga Tune Up® instructor, has her 200 hour RYT from Pure Yoga, holds an MA in modern dance, and a USCG 100-ton near coastal Masters license. Nancy’s classes build strength and flexibility through playful, physical challenges. She believes the yoga mat provides an opportunity to experiment outside the realm of everyday life. From her years in yoga and dance studios, she has acquired a keen ability to analyze and thus refine her students' movement. Her careful and thoughtful alignment cues help her students learn to go deeper into each pose in order to find his/her edge.

Go With Your Flow! Teaching Yoga Tune Up® Flow

  1. Rianna Reid says:

    Great to see some perspective on how ytu would be relative in a flow class. Thank you!

  2. luciana says:

    Create the new moves or integrates the differents moves into the class is very important for the students for stimulates and build more coordinations, proprioception and focus .
    I love use the differents moves in warrior1 /warrior 2 or 3 for example and try to use a differents prospective.
    I teach vinyasa class and I use and apply the YTu strategies and tecniqyes is the key for a best results

  3. Nadia says:

    The anatomical language is my new Sanskrit. I used to struggle so much when I started to teach yoga to memorize all of the names. When I cared enough about learning them I did. Now I’m learning a new language and a new way to guide people in movement. It’s not easy to change but I care enough that I’m willing to do it. I love the creative possibilities like adding pranic bath into warrior II. I look forward integrating in my classes all that I am learning this week in YTU level 1.

  4. Steven Custodio says:

    I so agree with this article, I will be modifying my yoga lingo to introduce what i’ve learned so far in YTU, making it a universal language exactly like you said instead of saying lift your heart you can simply say lift your sternum, at first they will think twice but this will make them more aware of their body. I also like the idea of introducing some YTU moves like the moon raide as a prep to half moon which can become the peak pose. 🙂

  5. Jamie HJ Hwang says:

    This is a very useful ariticle. I’m going to put these ideas(pranic bath warrior 2, mini vinyasas…) into my class. Thank you for sharing.

  6. These are great suggestions even if one doesn’t teach flow. You can always add a minivini in the midst of regular poses. It allows for diversity in your mix of poses or stretches. Your students enjoy that little spark of something different.

  7. Poirsha says:

    Yes! These are awesome suggestions. I too, have become a fan of using anatomy to describe what I want my students to do and also giving the DOM’s and the Why? and What? In my classes and my mom tells me she appreciates them. Her favorite was the 72 second rule and how yoga helps prevent osteoporosis! The more knowledge we have as teachers/instructors, the more empowered our students become!

  8. Andrea says:

    I am always on the hunt on how to build my YTU into a flow class. Thank you.

  9. MelissaJ says:

    Thanks for the follow up on the last flow post. Its been a real challenge to teach to students who are used to flow. I often see students almost checking out during their sun salutations, they are doing the motions but seem to forget proprioception and attention to alignment. Its brilliant to bridge flow with YTU and this article laid out some grounds for what makes a YTU flow class which was super helpful. Also pec pec pec before locust was great as it is a challenge to keep the interest of the student if the flow is stopped for a ball sequence. This is where I think it super important to provide them with context so they can evoke embodiment.

  10. I love the idea of adding in a pranic breath in warrior 2. Moving dynamically while remaining static in the lower body is a great way to strengthen proprioception. The strength of teaching a smooth class with all the props in the right places takes time to build.

  11. Pascale hazledine says:

    I loved this blog post!i agree with everyone who commented on placing Pranic bath in warrior 2,I also like eagle arms in warrior2. The anatomical terms are so important,my nephew attended a class last week and the instructor cued the students to move as if they were moving through seaweed,he asked me what does that mean?i don’t really know.since taking the training I am so aware to speak with clear instructions and think about why I am teaching a pose.thanks for your great shgggestions

  12. Jayme says:

    Ohhh, pranic bath + warrior II, heaven. Thanks for the tidbit!

  13. Mona Laflamme says:

    Thanks, this will help me to teach ytu in my vinyasa classes!

  14. Tracy E. says:

    I like the creativity of the pranic bath in warrior two and want to try it in class. I also appreciate the information on adapting the language of class to be more anatomical and specific to empower and transform the experience of each student!

  15. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for this pep talk. This is really helpful for those of us who are trying to modify students or studios expectations of what a flowing class should be. I love the idea of incorporating pranic breath into warrior 2!

  16. Anik B says:

    Thank you for all those very interesting tips.

  17. Isabelle P says:

    It first was a bit scaring because it’s so different but you made me confidente that it can be a smooth transition from the “old me as a yoga teacher” to the new yoga tune-up class i plan to do

  18. Jeanette says:

    Pranic bath in warrior two, awesome. And sneaking in some rolling of the pecs before locust sounds great. Thanks for your inspirational “thinking outside the boxana” post.

  19. Barbara says:

    I teach a lot of vinyasa and also think about how I’m going to apply YTU techniques and poses in my flows. I like the idea of punctuating the flow with the YTU template material — that should be relatively straightforward! There is a lot to choose from after all, in all planes of movement. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  20. Dear Nancy,
    thank you for your wonderful article and inspiration. I would love to see all trainers teaching like that. For me, your way of teaching exactly makes sense to me. As a personal trainer I also try to teach my clients in a way, that they can imagine and understand what and why they are training with me…

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