For more information on sequencing, check out our full-length sequencing guide.
Our mini-flows are 10-pose sequences that students and teachers can use in a variety of different ways. These mini-flows can be great on their own – for example, you can use our Classic Cool Down at the end of any workout, from hiking to biking to carrying a lazy dog around a park. Or, you can stack mini-flows together to create full-length classes – which we’ll explain how to do in this post. From building your own class, to experimenting with some new movements, mini-flows are an accessible and fun way to experience yoga.
A few background notes on sequencing:
Each style of yoga has a different approach to sequencing. In many styles, classes are built around a set series of poses. For example, Ashtanga has multiple set sequences that are meant to be learned in a specific order (primary series, secondary series, etc.). Power Yoga, similarly flows through a series of pose categories, beginning with integrative poses (child’s pose, cat/cow pose), then moving into a warm-up series (involving multiple rounds of sun As and sun Bs), then on to other categories (standing, back bends, balancing, etc).
Other contemporary styles of “flow” yoga are less structured. These often link movements together based on specific principles (i.e. slowly building movements to a “peak” pose, or opening movements followed by strengthening movements). All this is to say, there are a range of ways to practice: from free-form to unwavering. The Yoga Humans mini-flows and our personal teaching styles generally lean towards emphasizing freedom and creativity.
Creating a 60 minute Yoga Humans class:
While we don’t ascribe to a specific lineage of yoga sequencing, we do base our classes on broadly applicable principles that promote safe movement and mindfulness. Additionally, over the years we've adopted an approach to sequencing that helps us create our classes, which we've outlined for you below.
We encourage practitioners to experiment with this broad structure in combination with our mini-flows. To help understand the timing, we've also provided notional timing after each phase to show approximately how long it would take during a 60-minute practice.
Opening / Integration: Yoga is a holistic practice that requires us to engage and place tension on diverse muscle groups, connective tissues, and bodily systems, while maintaining acute focus and concentration. This means that it's necessary to spend some time at the beginning of a practice settling the mind and slowly preparing the body for the journey ahead. This can be done with integrative postures and any opening movements that start small and slow. These feel good movements and mindful breath practices set the stage for the pace to increase. (Think big, slow stretches, breath work, heart openers, side body stretches and core engagement.) Our opening mini-flow sequences will give you some great ideas for how to start. If you’d like to stay in each posture for a longer period of time, pick one mini-flow, or if you’d like to move more quickly pick two.
Mini-Flow to try for the Opening / Integration phase: Starting Slow and Steady Mini-Flow
Warmup / Building Heat: Once you're grounded and have found some small movements, it’s time to pick up the pace to prepare the body for more vigorous movement. This is intended to increase the heart rate and warm the muscles. Classical Sun Salutations are one way to build this heat and safely prepare for more intensity. However, they’re not the only way. You can also make your own sun salutation by repeating any short series of postures. What’s most important here is pace and repetition. Find something that gets you sweating a bit.
Mini-Flow to try for the Warmup / Building Heat phase: Awaken the Spine Mini-Flow and Sun Salutations
Middle Movements: Here we like to leave a lot of flexibility for practitioners to pursue the type of practice they prefer. This is where we recommend adding in Yoga Humans Mini-Flow’s from the “middle” category. Depending on your desired pace, pick 1 - 4 mini-flows to use. Think intentionally about how flows are combined. If you’re working on a balancing sequence, perhaps first include a flow that engages the stabilizing muscles in the core. If you’re working on shoulder opening, perhaps add in a short shoulder strengthening sequence before to warm the muscles. The specific logic you use will depend on your individual goals, however always try to be intentional about how you sequence. This is your opportunity to get creative! You could also focus on one mini-flow and then repeat that mini-flow multiple times so that you really get the feel for it in your body. Or, pick 2 mini-flows then after doing each slowly, move through them together quickly one last time, linking one movement to each breath.
Mini-Flow to try for the Middle Movements phase: Mandala Magic Mini-Flow x 2 (first round through move slow, second time through link one breath to one movement). Followed by Unlocking the Shoulders Mini-Flow.
Stretching / Cool Down: After you’ve built some heat and had some fun, choose a mini-flow that allows for a cooling down of the body. This is a great opportunity to focus on longer holds and deeper stretches. (10 minutes).
Mini-Flow to try for the Stretching / Cool Down phase: Classic Cool Down Mini-Flow
Closing / Savasana: These final few movements should allow the students to close their practice and move into a state of relaxation. Choose one of our closing mini-flows and lead students through postures that are grounding, relaxing and rejuvenating. Be sure to end with a well-deserved savasana!
Closing / Savasana: Any final movements, breath work and savasana.
Remember, there’s plenty of room to experiment and get creative when structuring a yoga class! However, there are a few key principles that any yoga practitioner should keep in mind as they structure a yoga class.
Ensure the body is warm enough before you move into more difficult postures. Sun salutations are a great way to safely do this.
Be mindful about which parts of the body you are focusing on in your practice. Stay careful not to over-extend one muscle group and under-focus on another. Additionally, think about why you're placing specific postures or flows before or after others. Is there a logic to the sequencing, if so, does it make sense from an energetic and anatomical perspective.
If you feel pain at any point, stop the posture or movement. You should at times feel discomfort as you stretch or challenge yourself, but you should never feel pain.
Go at your own pace. Our mini-flows range from level 1 (for beginners) to level 3 (for advanced practitioners), ensuring there’s a range of movements for everyone. Start where you are and don’t worry about how the postures look, just worry about how they feel in your body.
Any of these mini-flows can be replaced with your own flows or preferred movements. You could also just grab a few postures or transitions for the mini-flows and insert them into your current practice! If you have any thoughts on sequencing or would like to share your approach feel free to contact us or comment below.
Mini-flows are one approach to sequencing. There are many other ways to go about creating a yoga class that feels right for you. Ultimately, sequencing in this way is a wonderful way to express your creativity on the mat. Be safe, feel good and have fun!