Does this sound familiar? You’re in the heat of a great yoga class, and you’re feeling extra excited because you’re going to remember the routine you’re doing and then repeat it at home the next time you practice yoga. But when the time comes for you to roll out your mat at home, many of the transitions and asanas from class elude you, leaving you to wonder, Can I really build my own yoga sequence?
Of course you can! And there are severals reasons why you should want to. Some days, it’s impossible to make it the yoga studio, but you still want to get in a thorough workout–enter a thorough home yoga practice. Or, perhaps you’re bored by your collection of yoga DVDs. Makin up your own sequence can make yoga fun again. Finally, you may just want to design a custom sequence that’s tailored to what your body needs at a given point in your life.
Even though I’ve been through the frustrating experience of forgetting a cool routine that I wanted to repeat at home–or just feeling stumped when I approach my mat, I’ve figured out a few ways to build my own sequences so I don’t have to practice with a video if I don’t feel like it. In the past few years, I’ve come up with a 10-minute, first-thing-in-the-morning-sequence, a 30-minute strength-building sequence, and a fairly long, relaxation sequence when want to feel more grounded before calling it a day.
6 Tips for a DIY Yoga Sequence
1. Break your practice down into segments.
Most yoga classes begin with a warm-up or meditation. This is the first segment of the practice. Then, most of the time, the class progresses through sun salutations (i.e. the second segment) before moving on to perhaps arm balances, twists, or backbends (the third segment). Maybe the class does a few inversions (the fifth segment) before cool-down and savasana (the sixth and final segment). Your personal practice can include as many segments in whatever order you like, but breaking up the session into “chapters” can help you design a well-rounded sequence.
2. Consider what kind of energy you want to channel.
Are you trying to build some fire to start your morning, or are you looking for a sequence that will help you wind down and prepare yourself for rest? For a sequence that builds fire, look to sun salutations and their variations. You can also work in standing balance poses, arm balances, and core work. For a more “lunar” cycle, consider incorporating slow, calming poses, like forward bends, sitting twists, and gentle backbends. (See our yoga tutorials for more inspiration :))
3. Gather inspiration from your favorite sources.
There is a wide variety of yoga resources available—from B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga to cool streaming services like Yogis Anonymous to all of the free yoga stuff online (a YouTube search for “Yoga” will yield oodles of results). When I first started designing my own practices, I would sit through a yoga DVD and watch (and re-watch) various segments to memorize what to do. This really helped me internalize effective transitions between segments of a practice. Don’t hesitate to mix and match from various sources.
4. Write it all down!
When I was just learning yoga, not only did I write poses down on a notecard, I also drew little stick figures to remind myself what the pose looked like. I couldn’t remember the difference between Crow and Pigeon! Alternatively, you can make a recording of yourself (like a voice memo) narrating the sequence.
5. Test and tweak.
Your new flow may be perfect from the start (go you!), but you may find that once you test it out, you need to make a few tweaks. Maybe there’s one transition that’s not very smooth, or maybe that backbend comes to early in the practice. That’s okay! Allow your sequence to evolve until you feel like you’ve got something that really works for you. Besides, testing it out is half the fun!
6. Practice your sequence frequently.
Of course, you will want to develop your repertoire over time and include new poses and new transitions. If you practice the same routine(s) with frequency, you’ll have a really cool foundation off of which to build. Including new poses and transitions will come more organically if you’ve already got a flow to work from.
Do you create your own yoga sequences? What are your tips for a DIY yoga sequence?
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Photo: Yannick B. Gélinas via Flickr