Let's begin in downward dog. How many yoga classes have you taken where the teacher has said that? In a sequencing workshop by Gary Kraftsow this weekend, he began by saying, "never start a class in downward dog." His reasoning is that the body must prepare itself for this inversion. The shoulders, spine and hamstrings need more of a warm up first. The 2 and a half hour crash course in his method for stringing together a therapeutic (or "Viniyoga") yoga class did not include the typical flow (or even the other elements central to Viniyoga: asana, pranayama, chanting, mantra, meditation, prayer and study) but rather centered on asana. It was a piecing together of when to practice (time of day, season, or even season of life), which postures to do (standing, kneeling, supine, prone or seated), how the spine will move (forward, back, lateral, revolved, or in axial extension), and why certain postures are used (symmetrical postures prepare the body for asymmetrical poses). There are about 35 or fewer poses used in a typical yoga class when there are actually 100's if not closer to a 1000 different variations of asanas we could do.
His method really brought to mind how the creative process of designing a class for me works. While I love the innovativeness of sequencing a yoga class and being equipped to put it together over the course of hours (if time allows) or on the fly for a particular student's needs or injuries, I also firmly believe like my mentor, Leeann Carey and even Gary Kraftsow, that classes should have a logic to them. There is a way to formulate a class that enables the body to go into a pose that if prepared for well, can be done safely and with postural integrity.
Music and yoga to me are a marriage. Sometimes they are in discord and other times, they melt so beautifully into each other that the synergy that is palpable. There is no doubt that music draws out emotions in us that are sometimes only revealed when we hear a certain chord or word sung. I'm in love with the songs of Imogen Heap: Congratulations, Speeding Cars and First Train Home, just to name a few. I've played her music in my classes on many occasions.
I'm fascinated by a video on her own creative method of intertwining her writing with her congregation of on-line fans. She mixed a loop of the heart beat of an unborn niece and overlaid piano and lyrics. Then, taking words, art and videos from her fans she infused them into a song and video in less than 2 weeks. The path she took to achieve a musical work of art with the help of a community of listeners had a certain process to it. I love that there's not a right or a wrong way to create music. But there is a way of putting it together that can appeal to our senses and resonate with us emotionally or even physically.
The same is true of yoga, if there's an adaptation of a pose that unfolds sequentially, it can open up our bodies in an efficient and powerful way. Gary compared sequencing to traveling. We can get to the same place in a million different ways but why not go the most efficient, least resistant and elegant path possible?
What is your path today? Will it involve creativity, efficiency, community... how will you begin?