A Pose by Any Other Name: Creating a Yoga Tune Up®Flow Class Through Pose Re-Engineering. Tune Up Fitness Blog » A Pose by Any Other Name: Creating a Yoga Tune Up®Flow Class Through Pose Re-Engineering.

A Pose by Any Other Name: Creating a Yoga Tune Up®Flow Class Through Pose Re-Engineering.

Earlier this year, Jill Miller led a Yoga Tune Up® teacher coaching call around the topic of YTU Flow. Several teachers spoke about their styles of teaching flow and guess what, each of us taught flow in a completely different way. This is no surprise given the commitment in the YTU community to thoughtful, creative teaching, no matter what your groove might be. It also underscores the fact that there is never one answer. I have written about YTU Flow in the context of your personal alignment to a yoga tradition, the community of yogis that you teach to (know your audience) and now I am closing the loop on a bigger idea: how to create a theme for your teaching.

Let me reiterate: What makes a flow?

  • Moving fluidly from one place to another.
  • Intense focus and engagement in an activity.
  • Rhythmic movement and breath coordination.
  • A state of effortless concentration.
  • One breath per movement.
  • Breath x movement.

In my last blog, the discussion was about designing a class around DOMs, direction of movement in a joint. Now, let’s consider two more ideas that can spark a flow class: regressing and reorienting poses, both biggies in YTU.

Pose Regression

Let’s use Garudasana, eagle pose, as an example. First, get to know your pose. Study the anatomy. Learn the history. One of the benefits of this pose is that a colorful tale surrounds it. Garuda was the mythical bird who was the taxi (or Uber) of Lord Vishnu. He always knew where Vishnu was and/or needed to be and was sure to deliver. Have fun with the entertainment value of this story.

I love Garudanasana because it involves many elements (adduction, internal rotation, asymmetry, many joints plus a balance). Consider opening and closing this practice with a supine (lying on the back) garuda leg twist. This check/re-check creates context every time you introduce it and inevitably the twist is more potent each time you practice it during the class.

Seize the opportunity to add in appropriate rolling such as hips or glutes, upper back or pecs. Discover warm ups and cool downs that speak to actions of the pose. In YTU Level 1, we have been given regressions of eagle pose with garuda leg only positions in crunches and twists. Add in garuda arm only variations in Warrior II, III and/or humble warrior. After isolating the arms and legs of garuda, it is easy to put the pose together as the full version of garudasana.

Pose Reorientation

Reorientation requires you to come out of a literal world of poses and enter an approximate world. For example, if I am standing in mountain pose, tadasana, on my two feet how can I re-imagine it into another plane? How about horizontal in plank pose? Or horizontal on my back?

One of my favorite classes to teach is around the many Warrior III variations. Start on your back with a block under your sacrum. Add in a single leg apanasana (knees to chest). Advance to tubular core and corso leg lifts. Observe that you are now in Warrior III on your back. Continue to re-create this position every which way… through your vinyasas to the various Warriors, you might include deadlifts and Revolved Half Moon. As you move towards the close of the class, come back to the shape of Warrior III via the series.

Closed-chain Leg Stretch #3 uses the wall to help orient the body.

Whatever format your classes take, never forget the rhythm of your breath. Breath and proprioception will serve your flow. So much of a yoga practice takes place between the poses. Chanel the breath first and then watch the movement unfold, literally inspired.

Liked this article? Read Patterns of Potentiality

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.

A Pose by Any Other Name: Creating a Yoga Tune Up®Flow Class Through Pose Re-Engineering.

  1. Lewis says:

    Thank you for the amazing blog and insight Nancy. The idea of introducing elements to your “peak pose” as early as the warm-up is very helpful. I also enjoyed the slight history lesson on Eagle Pose. What I felt most beneficial for my own practice was your mention of proprioception with a closed chained practice. We live in a show me society where we feel we must show what we can do (whether incorrectly or not) photogenically. What I like is the lack of flash with closed chained but the mass amount of benefits.

  2. Lewis says:

    Thank you for the amazing blog and insight Nancy. The idea of introducing elements to your “peak pose” as early as the warm-up is very helpful. I also enjoyed the slight history lesson on Eagle Pose. What I felt most beneficial for my own practice was your mention of proprioception with a closed chained practice. We live in a show me society where we feel we have to show what we can do (whether incorrectly or not) photogenically. What I like is the lack of flash with closed chained but the mass amount of benefits.

  3. Ben Blazke says:

    Thank you, Nancy – for sharing the theme ideas for creating flow classes. I have been using pose regression towards a peak pose; now I can add DOM grids and pose reorientation into my repertoire. I believe that these techniques can even be nicely combined together in one class as the DOM grids will naturally lead to the regressions/preps for a peak pose.

  4. Becky says:

    As I enter the last half of my L1 YTU, this post is perfect for inspiring more creativity with the various ideas you share on theming a class. I really like the Warrior 3 on the block I had not thought of that one, I also really love your closing paragraph especially ‘ so much of a yoga practice takes place between the poses’ – so lovely. Thank you.

  5. Diana Azavedo says:

    Thanks Nancy for sharing such valuable input towards creating a beautifully choreographed as well as sequenced YTU flow. This will definitely come in handy when I’m creating my first YTU seq using the context grids. I specifically love the last but not the least comment about the importance of breath and proprioception. x

  6. Betsy says:

    I appreciate this article and find much resonance here as a Yoga Tune Up teacher AND a Vinyasa teacher. Much like you, Nancy, I find myself playing with various orientations and closed and open chain versions of the same postures as we flow in my Vinyasa classes and the more basic or easeful variations serve to prepare tissues and minds for the more challenging ones to come.

    I also like how you defined flow and am wondering it a flow class in your opinion must meet all the criteria you listed or if one or if it is defined by meeting more criteria on your list I ask this because in my flow classes I give myself the liberty of not necessarily flowing one movement per breath but often cue an area of engagement or focus per inhale and another per exhale (for instance in Garudasana, I might say “Inhale, reach your elbows and finger tips up. Exhale, press your forearms forward. Inhale, expand the space between your shoulder blades. Exhale, tug your shoulder blades down and wide…).

    Thank you for sharing practice and perspective!

  7. Jeanne says:

    I also teach a YTU flow type class, integrating strengthening and stretching postures I’ve learned through my YTU trainings, with a vinyasa style yoga. Your article gives me some additional insight to consider when designing my classes. I consider the peak pose (let’s say Camel or Cow-Faced pose) and add therapy ball rolling and YTU postures that will help my students experience the pose perhaps in a different way. My student enjoy the process and gain understanding into how a pose is broken down and how to warm up the parts of the body that are expressed in the pose. I need to listen to the coaching call you refer to and look forward to more discussion about YTU flow.

  8. Phoebe says:

    Pose regression and reorientation are both great ways to tailor a class for different type of students, especially there are different level of participants in one class. Also, start by rolling the involved muscles can set them up for success and definitely increase their interest in my class!

  9. Kate Clark says:

    I’m in the middle of the Level I training now — thank you for your discussion of pose reorientation. I realize I’ve gotten too wrapped up in precisely recreating the same body position when maybe I can focus more on the essentials and be a little more open with matching the details. Thank you so much for this perspective!

  10. Barbara Gentile says:

    Your writing is giving me so many ideas on how to create the sequences for my upcoming yoga classes. Thank you for the inspiration, thank you YTU training!

  11. Jane Thibodeau says:

    I am so grateful for this post! How to incorporate YTU into a flow class is a topic that continual comes up as I complete my YTU Level 1 Certification. I love and embrace YTU exactly how it is, but I worry that my students won’t be as open (at least not initially) to a different style, especially one that lacks the flow they are so accustomed to. Thank you so much for addressing this topic and for providing some building blocks and examples of how combine the two styles.

  12. Monika Bansal says:

    The first thing that struck me after reading the articled is “so much of a yoga practice takes place between the poses”. What a lovely and deep observation. I like the way Garudasana is broken down. Isolating hand and leg movements and then coming back to the pose seems to be a great and effective way of accomplishing the pose.

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