The Art and Science of Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes
The art and science of sequencing invites us to design yoga classes that embody the essence of yoga, are a creative expression of the teacher, and informed by the insights of functional anatomy and biomechanics. Much like a dance choreographer, we learn to create classes that are beautiful in both their inner and outer aesthetics, empowering students to cultivate a sustainable practice. This approach avoids the irrational sequencing and related repetitive stress problems found in pre-set sequence methods such as Ashtanga Vinyasa and Bikram while giving structure to classes that can be random in their creativity.
Thus, this immersion focuses on designing the classes in a way that is shaped by the basic principles of sequencing, beginning with Krishnamacharya’s concepts of Vinyasa Krama and Pratikriyasana. We will design classes for different levels of ability, different areas of practice (for example, heart opening, hip opening, balancing, deeply relaxing, etc.), and other varied conditions and intentions.
Thursday, June 13
9:00-12:30: Sequencing Theory, Principles, and Practices
In this foundational session, Mark will present the theory and principles of sequencing as a distillation of ancient to modern yoga experience and contemporary understandings of how the bodymind most naturally and sustainably opens, stabilizes, and balances. We will look closely at the interrelations of asanas in making creative choices in designing amazing and transformational yoga classes.
13:30 - 17:30 Sequencing for Basic Classes
In this session, we will design yoga classes for beginning level students. Applying the concepts and sensibilities from the foundational session, we will collaboratively and creatively design these classes focusing on a balanced practice that is accessible to new students.
18:00 - 20:00 Masterclass All Level: Healthy Backs, Open Hearts
Fear of moving into the unknown is just one of the many challenges of backbending. Restriction in the spine, tightness in the shoulders, hips and groins, and weakness in the arms, legs and abdominal core all contribute to the difficulties one might encounter in stretching and opening the front of the body. At the heart of it all is the heart and a lifetime of embodied experience – every joy, trauma, hope and dream from childhood to the present moment pulsating inside to the rhythm of the heartbeat.
This workshop will utilize a variety of techniques - including heart-centered guided meditation, core integration, hip & groin openers, shoulder openers and spinal twists - to help you move safely and joyfully into a deeper back bending, heart opening practice. Mark will highlight the functional anatomy and biomechanics of movement and positioning that most lend to stability, ease, and opening more deeply to it all. (Prior knowledge of anatomy is not required.)
Friday, June 14
9:00 – 12:30 Sequencing for Intermediate Level Classes – Part I
This session focuses on designing classes for intermediate-level experienced students with a focus on heart opening back bends.
13:30-17:30 Sequencing for Intermediate Level Classes – Part II
This session focuses on designing classes for intermediate-level experienced students with a focus on deep hip openers and forward bends.
Saturday, June 15
9:00 - 11:30 All Levels Dynamic Master Class: Asana, Pranayama, Meditation
Every yoga asana has an intrinsic beauty and integrity that can be more deeply revealed and polished by how it is approached on the path of a class. In many classes, asanas are taught as if in static separation from one another, while in other classes steady movement can distort the integrity of each asana. In dynamic approaches to yoga, we move steadily between the asanas, sometimes holding asanas and sometimes flowing through them. How we move, how we hold, and how we transition from movement to holding to more movement profoundly affects our experience of the practice.
In this masterclass, we will focus on making conscious transitions, exploring how the alignment qualities and energetic actions in one asana affects how we come to next asana. We will explore specific techniques for making transitions in ways that deepen the experience of the asanas while ensuring they are practiced safely and sustainably. We will begin and end with guided meditation and pranayama, exploring different techniques for cultivating energy and opening to clearer awareness.
13:00-17:30 Sequencing Core Integrity, Open Hips, and Arm Balances
Arm balances simultaneously require and help us to develop strength, flexibility, focus and openness. These qualities are heightened when movement into the pose involves hip mobility. More concentrated mental focus is harnessed when then moving into poses involving steadier balance, such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Handstand) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance). Practicing these asana sequences safely and consciously leads to equanimity, confidence and personal freedom well beyond the mat.
In this session, we will design classes that open the hips and awaken the core in ways that make arm support and arm balancing asanas easier, safer, and more enjoyable, with ample time to explore each arm-intensive asana.
18:00-19:30 Heart Centered Meditation for Self-Transformation
Why are you here? What are you doing? How are your basic intentions manifested in your life? Do you want to live in the most magnificent way you can? This evening class starts with a brief talk on living with greater clarity and purpose, then uses a series of heart-centered meditations to reveal and transcend self-limitation. Open to all.
Sunday, June 16
9:00 - 11:30 Deep Release of Tension, Deep Awakening of Awareness
Most of us experience some (or a lot of) stress as a normal part of living in the modern world, with much of that stress experienced in the body as well as the mind. Part of the sublime beauty of yoga is in its seemingly magical way of making us feel better everywhere. Yoga helps us learn how stress gets embodied in our tissues and how to let it go.
In this master class, we will explore a variety of asanas along with pranayama and mediation to deeply relax and release embodied tension. We will start with a 15-minute talk on the nature of embodied tension and the specific yogic techniques for relieving it and replacing it with embodied consciousness. Open to all levels.
13:00 - 17:30 Sequencing for Deep Release of Tension
This sequencing session focuses are designing classes for the deep release of embodied tension. Applying the concepts and sensibilities from the foundational session, we will collaboratively and creatively design classes focusing on the release of tension in the shoulders, neck, torso, and hips. day, we will review, critique, and refine the classes that we collaboratively design.
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“When someone mentions the gracefulness of the night sky, climb up on the roof and dance and say, like this?”