How to Sequence Poses

October 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

Question: Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column – How to Sequence Poses

Dear Aunt Yoga,

I would like to know what the order of yoga poses should be. Are there particular exercises that should or should not follow each other? I think there is a specific rule governing sequences of yoga. I shall be thankful if you kindly enlighten me on this point.



Answer: Dear R.P.,

There are no rules that will cover every style of yoga. For instance, in Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar says that the headstand should be practiced at the beginning of a yoga session, while in the Ashtanga system, headstand is done near the end of the 90-minute primary series. Both these yoga traditions are highly respected, so who is right?

Some styles, such as Ashtanga and Bikram, follow a set sequence of poses and would have you believe that their sequence is the best. Other styles, such as vinyasa, take a more free-flowing approach, changing the order of poses each time.

A general rule of thumb is to start with gentle stretching and then warm up the body by moving quickly between poses. Once you are warm, deeper poses, such as backbends and intense hamstring stretches, are appropriate. Cool down will often include forward bends and gentle twists.

The second part of your question is similarly complex and again will depend on the school of yoga one follows. There are a few poses that are often followed by their traditional counter poses. For example, shoulder stand is often followed by fish in order to provide a counter stretch for the neck. After a series of backbends, it’s nice to do a forward bend to release the lower back, though you should wait until you are finished with backbending before forward bending.

Sequencing poses is one of the toughest parts of a yoga home practice. For some inspiration, check out these recommended sequences.


Aunt Yoga

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