Newer yoga teachers regularly ask me how often they should change their yoga class sequences, and whether it’s ok to teach the same sequence over and over again. Most teachers are fearful of sounding repetitive. It’s a valid fear, I mean, who wants to sound like a broken record? To be perfectly honest, most yoga students are not thinking their way through the details of a yoga sequence - they are feeling their way through, and are perhaps more absorbed in what is happening on a physical level, and are thinking more in the moment about the asana that they are currently doing. They’re generally not analysing your sequence and saying “Hmm, this is the same as last Tuesday’s class.”
When you teach yoga, you are educating people, and helping them to refine their skills. The skills of doing, being and noticing are continually being honed. Anytime we are learning new skills, we need to repeat, repeat, repeat. If you embrace repetition in your sequencing and teaching, you are giving your students valuable opportunities to deepen their learning. Even if you teach the same sequence over and over, quite likely the result will be different each time purely for the fact that you may have different people in your classes with varying needs. You might language something differently or alternate your focus for each class, so that the flavour and learning outcomes for the students change.
When you repeat a sequence, you also have the opportunity to refine your teaching skills. If you’re not focusing on remembering a new sequence, you can be more present to what you’re offering, honing your language skills, and truly observing your students. As a new teacher of vinyasa yoga, I felt compelled to change up my sequence often and try to be as creative as possible. When I was in training with Baron Baptiste, he gave me some sage advice. He said “Don’t think you have to push the pieces around to make your classes more interesting. Become more interesting in the way you teach and what you offer from your heart, not in the sequence that you teach.”
Some days I still like to be creative with my sequences, but mostly I focus on keeping aspects of my classes consistent with a certain amount of routine, and just enough variations to keep the experience fresh. My suggestion is to have a sequence that you run with for a week or two, and every time you teach it, fine tune the nuances of the asanas, the way you guide your students through transitions, and give emphasis to different parts of the class. Keep your sequences in a notebook or file, note any variations to them that worked well for you, and don’t be afraid to rotate and recycle your classes sequences to give consistency and reliability to your teaching.
Written by Nicole Walsh