Recently, I extracted this message from a fortune cookie, “Change is happening in your life, so go with the flow!” And that is exactly how I teach a Yoga Tune Up® flow class: with an eye toward change and discovery. My previous blogs stated that the essence of a flow class is breath linked to movement, along with a loose structure for such a class.
As we continue our exploration into YTU flow-style classes, consider constructing your class around direction of movement (DOM) at a joint.
Set up a DOM grid as a helpful tool. Across the top itemize joint actions such as:
- Internal and external rotation
- Abduction and adduction
- Flexion and extension
- Elevation and depression
- Protraction and retraction
Below each action on your grid, insert poses and mini-vinis (mini vinyasas) that articulate these actions. You might find certain YTU exercises hitting on multiple DOMs [ah ha!]. You will certainly find yoga poses that show up in more than one column. Visual learners may find this map is useful in helping present a well-balanced class and learning how to teach yoga flow.
Now that you have categorized your movements by joint action, create a flow class. Decide which joint[s] you want to emphasize; shoulders, hips, spine. Select your poses and weave them together. One key to flow is aligning similar movements. Try it out on yourself. Does it flow? Are your transitions natural? Can you connect your breath to your movement? Don’t forget to insert your check-in pose anywhere and everywhere.
A hips class might have child’s pose as a check-in. Begin with a breath assessment in child’s pose, evolve into a mini-vini and your own flowing vinyasa using YTU inspiration such as walk the plank. Standing sequences can transition through warrior I, warrior III, moon rises (seen below), revolved half moon. Or prassarita variations with prassarita lunges. Back bends might flow from warrior III, to half camel and full camel. Hip roll out might include pin and stretch on the quadratus lumborum [QL] with the alpha ball. Wind down with a half happy baby mini-vini, apanasana variations and twists.
A shoulders class might have a simple arm flexion as a check-in. Roll on Therapy Balls at the beginning and progress into your vinyasa. Or, begin with your breath and check-in in pose, then move into DJ arms (seen below), or shoulder flossing before you flow. Standing sequences could have epaulette arm circles while in a warrior 1 or crescent lunge. Strength and stability poses such as dolphin supinate or mega-plank create a natural segue into your wind down. Perhaps your backbends are bridge and bridge lifts. If practicing locust, try adding open sesame. The choices are endless.
Structuring your YTU flow around DOMs is an easy way to educate your students without a lecture. They will simultaneously learn through proprioception and intelligence. Your movement vocabulary along with your language create self-awareness and embodiment for your students. Be creative and they will love you!
Remember, there is no strict formula. Your yoga flow classes will evolve and become as individual as you are. Your special sauce will be informed by the dynamics between you and your students. So go into the movement lab, be open to discovery and have fun!