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Sequencing masterfully is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching yoga as it requires both the knowledge of anatomy and the wisdom of how it relates to your body and your students. I created a template for my Chromatic Yoga teachers and Elements of Mastery students to follow when building sequences for classes/workshops/trainings, and I am happy to share that with you here.
Peak Action AKA the “physical through-line” can be divided up into two parts: Strength and Length. A peak action occurs repetitively and is “Layered” through a class in various postures typically starting from the most basic/simple posture and progressing to the “Peak Pose”. The easiest ways to come up with a peak action is to ask yourself two primary questions:
1. What muscles are required to engage in order to create the shape of the posture?
2. What muscles need to be able to lengthen in order for the posture to exist?
Question 1 is helpful to first put the posture in space where there is no gravity, and look at all of the “joint relationships”
Peak Pose: dancer pose
1. The back hip is in extension, the muscles that create hip extension are the Gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductor magnus. The bottom hip is in flexion, and the Hip Flexors create hip flexion. CONTINUE THIS THROUGH EVERY MAJOR JOINT.
2. The answer for this question is going to be the opposite of question 1! so at the back hip, you would say the hip flexors need to lengthen, and for the standing leg the hamstring and glutes have to be flexible. then continue through the whole body.
There are multiple ways to choose a peak action including something I call a “Balancing Action” which is an engagement of a muscle that is lengthened. In the crow pose workshop I chose a balancing action: Adduction – squeezing legs toward each other.
Preparatory Peak Pose:
A preparatory peak pose is a pose that has many of the same joint relationships as the peak posture, but removes an element of challenge in order to provide students with an opportunity to apply the peak strength actions in a slightly less challenging environment.
If you enjoy these videos and would like to learn more you will like the following.
In this workshop you will practice specific techniques to open your hips, finding greater rang of motion and freedom. Each action in the body is carefully layered and clearly articulated to provide you with success.
Elements of Mastery
For the serious practitioners and yoga instructors, this online resource provides you with tons of workshops, demonstrations, reading material and worksheets to take you to the next level. This is in many ways an online teachers manual, filled with podcast style workshops, short form video demonstrations, and written explanations to support your development.
Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.
Breaking Down The Sequence
Peak Pose: Crow Pose
Peak Action (Strength): Adduction
Secondary Peak Actions (strength): Protraction/Flexion of spine, Flexion of Fingers (forearm muscles)
Peak Action (Length): Adductors, Rhomboids/extensors of the spine
Layering Postures for Strength: Childs Pose, Plank, Lunge Back Leg, Warrior 2, malasana, uttanasana, Side Angle, Goddess, Prasarita.
Layering Postures for Length: All the same postures as the strength because I chose to my peak strength to be a muscle group that also requires flexibility – adductors. For Rhomboids/Extensors of the spine i used: Cat, Plank, Lunge with elbows together, malasana, fire ball chair, fire ball side angle, hop forward.
To Further clarify this sequence and the steps to creating your own, listen to the following recordings and take notes as you follow along.
The Structure of Masterful Sequencing
If you are on a mobile device you can download the google drive app and listen to these workshops on or offline from your mobile phone while on your commute to or from work and in the local cafe 🙂
Discover the Joy Of Backbending
This is an abreviated workshop that focuses on a few Peak Actions – Transverse abdominals (lift abdomin in and up) in conjunction with the erector spinae muscles. In addition there is a technique that is layered in of bring the shoulder head up and back. lastly gluteus activation.
Theme: While the focus of this training is primarily physical sequencing, this workshop incorporates a thematic through-line which is a recurring teaching/phrase/idea that is “weaved” through the layered postures. The best thematic through lines are intimately tied to the Peak Action, however this can be incredibly challenging. I recommend starting with either a physical through-line or a thematic through-line and getting really proficient at both first. The them in this workshop is based around a question “How do you want to feel?”
“Journey Through The Elements”
Yoga Retreats with Matt are not only a rejuvinating get away, but they are also a way to get deeply in tune with your yoga practice. Matt takes you on a Jouney through the elements both in your body and mind for a truly inspiring and empowering experience. You will tune into your body like you never have before, and clear any anything that might be standing in your way of living in peace and harmony. Take an adventure, and treat yourself and your body the way you truly deserve.
Costa Rica 2019
Starts: Dec. 7-12 2019
Immerse yourself into nature and your practice in one of the most nourishing places on the planet. Experience what its like to enjoy the beach, jungle, world class food, all while awakening your body to new levels of awareness.
South of Spain 2020
Starts: Spring 2020 (coming soon)
Recharge from the winter with an immersion into your yoga practice in one of the most highly sought after retreat centers in the world. Take a comfortable step by step approach in your practice to developing mastery in your body.
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