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Teaching Yoga

Creative Sequencing: 3 Ways Mary Beth LaRue Breaks the Yoga Rules

We follow various rules of vinyasa for a reason—but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be broken every once in a while. Steal LA-based yoga teacher Mary Beth LaRue's secrets to inspired sequencing.

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Los Angeles-based yoga teacher, life design coach and writer Mary Beth LaRue has created the life of her dreams—but she had to overcome her fair share of fear and self-doubt to get there. Steal her secrets to inspired sequencing and a creative life in our upcoming Yoga for Creativity online course. (Sign up now.)

I’ve been practicing yoga for 12 years and teaching for 9 years. For much of that time, I felt confined by trying to follow all the rules I’d been taught about alignment and sequencing. But I’ve learned that once you know how to
follow the rules, you can get a little creative in breaking them.

The best teachers follow their intuition and their own experience in a way that allows their students to find a new meaning in familiar movements. That comes from doing what feels authentic and meaningful to the teacher, not just doing what they’ve been taught.

Finding ways to diverge from the traditions of vinyasa is a great way to breathe new life into your teaching. Here are three of my favorite ways to break the rules and get creative with my classes.

1. Shake Up Your Sun Salutations

It’s easy to go straight into autopilot mode at the beginning of your classes. But do you really have to start every vinyasa class with three Surya A’s followed by three Surya B’s? There are so many other great options for getting people warmed up!

Any gentle, repetitive and expansive movement can be turned into a new way to start class and get your students ready for the next 60 or 90 minutes of practice. You could build a whole warm-up sequence around Cat/Cow or even Locust Pose, or bring in a Surya C. Feel free to get creative!

2. Try Mandala Sequencing

Replacing traditional sequencing with a mandala sequence is a great way to add a new perspective and shake things up for your students. In this type of sequence, the poses rotate around the mat in a circular manner, allowing you to see different perspectives and break out of the traditional vinyasa flow.

I love using mandalas every once in a while because it puts pressure on me to stay on my toes and keep track of a complicated series. Mandala sequences using Goddess Pose in the middle are some of my favorites. For inspiration, check out international vinyasa teacher Shiva Rea—she is a master of the mandala sequence!

3, Let Go of a Go-To Pose

Poses like Chaturanga and Warrior 1 are staples of any vinyasa practice, but what if you let them go for a class or two? Try skipping one of the poses that your students are most used to, and see how it feels.

Maybe you replace Chaturanga with Knees-Chest-Chin, or trade in Warrior 1 for a Crescent Lunge. You might find that just a small change makes your class feel new and fresh again.

Mary Beth LaRue is a Los Angeles–based yoga instructor and life-design coach. She loves riding her bike, scribbling ideas over coffee, and taking long road trips with her family (including her English bulldog, Rosy). Inspired by her teachers Schuyler Grant, Elena Brower, and Kia Miller, LaRue has been teaching yoga for more than eight years, helping others connect to their inner bliss. She co-founded Rock Your Bliss, a yoga-inspired coaching company that helps clients “make shift happen.” Learn more at