Sequencing Principles: Sequencing & Pacing to Balance Energy
Here we focus on energy in particular. This material presumes you are familiar with Sequencing Fundamentals & Guidelines and Choosing & Arranging Poses.
A fundamental goal of sequencing is to bring energetic balance. Balancing energy may refer to an individual student need and/or it may be referring to a general approach such as balancing the effects of a season.
- It’s recommended to “meet” the energy of students and then endeavor to bring about a balanced state.
- Considering the energetic effects of various yogic techniques (langhana, bramana and samana) can guide your choices for bringing balance.
- Use mindful pacing to achieve your goals.
Begin with Energy of Students
This principle advises that if students are exhibiting lethargy, introversion or low energy, then begin slowly and gently build intensity. In contrast, if students appear anxious, hyper or busy, begin with more vigorous or stimulating practices to meet the students where they are.
Balance Energy of Season or Situation
In this approach drawn from fundamental Ayurvedic principles, the focus is on balancing the effects of the season or specific situation (e.g. bringing warmth when there is cold, cooling when there is excess heat, etc.). Go deep on this topic: Seasonal Yoga Hub.
Determine Dominant Nadi
Before beginning to practice, observe the breath and determine which nostril (and, therefore, which nadi) is dominant. If it isn’t obvious, practice Nadi Shodhana to learn which side is flowing more freely and which feels more inhibited.
If the left nostril dominates, ida is in charge, and you might consider focusing your attention on invigorating asanas — such as backbends, standing poses, inversions, and twists — to engage the pingala nadi. If the right nostril dominates, the cooling, calming energy of seated poses and forward bends might be most beneficial. – James Bailey
Sequence for Natural Dualities
Another way to view the purpose of sequencing can be to mindfully address the natural dualities of bodily life, endeavoring to bring balance to the cycles of expansion and contraction.
Dynamic Balancing Of Opposites
Life is full of alternating opposites, such as inhaling and exhaling, sleeping versus waking, and fight or flight versus rest and digest. Each of these dualities demonstrates a dynamic balancing of opposites. Sequencing in yoga can be used to exaggerate a cycle of expansion and contraction. We begin with poses that open the front of the body and close with poses that draw the energy inward. – Ray Long
The topic of “pacing” refers to the rate at which the class moves and progresses from the beginning state through the middle or peak of class, and ultimately reaching the end.
The pace or “arc” of a yoga class may be to begin slowly, for example, and then speed up to a peak, followed by a progressive downshifting and ending in silence and stillness.
Pacing is closely related to some of the Sequencing Fundamentals, including Move From Simple to Complex and Build Mindfully & Gradually. The energetic effects of practices provided below are also closely related to how a teacher brings about a particular pace. For example, you’ll see that langhana is associated with slow movements. Slower movement is the same as saying a slower pace.