Mark Stephens has done it again. The remarkable follow-up to Teaching Yoga available – and is a must-have for any yoga teacher. Whether you have set sequences to pull from or not, Yoga Sequencing belongs in your arsenal of go-to yoga books. It’s a wonderful resource to fall back on, whether needed to find inspiration or even as a refresher.
This teaching tome is logically laid out. Beginning in foundations and philosophy, then into the actual structure of a class, moving into (and breaking down) asanas, structuring individual class level sequences, focused classes for back bends, arm balances and the like, and finally yoga for specific groups/conditions (ie: prenatal yoga and yoga for seniors).
A particular point of interest for me: warming up. I love that Stephens begins with the breath before moving into more dynamic movements. I know pranayama is favored as a post-asana practice but I’m a big fan of beginning each class with it, even if it’s simply starting with ujjayi. It sets the tone for the class.
Another highlight for me is the chapter on sequencing asana instructions. As a teacher, there frequently looms in the back of my mind the question of whether or not I’m offering cues in the best, most concise manner. Stephens reminds to teach what you know. It’s a simple concept but makes the most sense. This goes hand in hand with demonstrating certain ideas – about which the author offers a variety of options. Also important in this chapter, Stephens moves through transitioning into asanas and finally refining them. He also provides a nice chart of verbal cues and corresponding oppositional balances with examples of asanas.
Stephens reinforces all the foundational aspects teachers learn in a 200-hour training. This text is a wonderful reminder. While references such as TKV Desikachar’s Heart of Yoga and BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga and Light on Life are some of the most important yoga books available, offering terrific insights on philosophy, practice and pranayama (the three big “P’s”), Yoga Sequencing - while keeping an emphasis on asana practice – nicely compiles these three subjects in an authoritative way.
Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes, Mark Stephens, North Atlantic Books, September 2012
Gail Hamlin, E-RYT 200, RYT-500, began her yoga practice in 2001. Certified in 2010, Gail studies and teaches Ashtanga yoga and therapeutics. You can catch her Hot Yoga and all-level Vinyasa classes at Zen & Yoga in Queens, and at NY Loves Yoga, Yo Yoga!, and Pure Yoga in Manhattan.