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A Good Yoga Class Follows the Stages of Life

 

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Yoga class begins lying on the back breathing, centering and rocking in happy baby, progressing to standing, then returning to corpse pose and letting go.

Yoga class can follow the pattern or stages of life, from lying on the floor to being seated, to standing, and then back to floor, eventually to corpse pose, savasana. The life progresses, beginning with observing the breath, gradually moving the joints to lubricate or warm them, stretching into happy baby. Eventually the class rolls onto the side and into a seated position. Reaching forward from the buttocks onto the floor, stretching from side to side, not yet crawling, not yet on hands and knees.

From Hands and Knees into Cat Stretch, Cat Tuck

The body continues to awaken. Perhaps stretching back onto the heels and forward lifting one leg and stretching it out and bringing it up toward the shoulder.

 

Move into plank pose, parallel to floor. This is a stronger pose as the muscles warm and strengthen. The pose then grows, as does the body, into runners lunge (a preparation for warrior pose) treating both sides equally. Arms stretch up and forward.

Rising from the Ground to Mountain Pose, a Standing Pose

From forward bend, move into monkey pose- the back straight and looking forward while rising upright in what is called mountain pose or tadasana. Now upright, the poses can inhale into the warrior positions, the poses of power.

Increased Strength and Balance (the Adult)

Balancing means firmness and standing on the earth. The muscles are mature and the gaze or drishti is direct. Whether its warrior 3 or tree pose or even dancer pose, the body is in control.

Return to the Floor as the Class Progresses

Spine twisting precedes the descent back to floor to seated poses. Fighting the pull of gravity, inversions take 10 minutes of the class. These can be a gentle inversion with feet up against the wall or the king of inversions, the head stand. Playful handstands, or maybe shoulder stands blocking out sound with knees against head or even wheel with the body pressing upward, the heart open.

Ultimately the body rests in savasana. This is the resting pose and considered the most advanced pose when done properly. It uses all the knowledge of yoga to place the body at peace, reminiscent of the wisdom of age.

Other Ways to Design a Yoga Class

Using the same concept of floor to knees to standing and then back to floor, the class can also be structured around body parts such as neck and shoulders, or conditions such arthritis or osteoporosis. It can be structured to emphasize certain movements such as hip openers, inversions, or balance.

A typical class is 60-90 minutes and the basic movements should progress to give an overall body movement with meditation and breathing regardless of emphasis. It is just as important not have a yoga class morph into a workshop, as it is not to allow one student’s needs overtake the class.

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