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In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, asana (posture) is a balance of sthira (steadiness) and sukha (comfort). Individually, these elements cultivate balance by offering support. For example, we can cultivate stability when we’re feeling unfocused, disorganized, or dull in our efforts. Similarly, we can focus on ease in the moments when we catch ourselves gripping, straining, or overworking. These elements also work together to create a dynamic conversation. It’s the process of navigating these oppositional forces that can reveal a deeper understanding of balance. When designing a sequence around the concept of stability and ease, consider your overall strategy.
A sample outline to structure a class on stability and ease
FOCUS (the main theme of your curriculum): Balance
CONCEPT (the specific concepts you want to teach related to your focus): Stability and Ease
POSE (the postures that embody the concept): Virabhadrasana III
ACTIONS (the actions of your chosen pose and the other postures share these actions): Ground + Rebound; Compact the outer hip; Lengthen the side body; Firm the outer arms in.
This mini-sequence on stability and ease is the second part of a three-part sample curriculum designed to teach balance. This sequence leading to Virbhadrasana III builds on the work from part one of our curriculum development series. Each posture targets a specific action as well as integrates the work of the main pose.
Designing a sequence leading to Virbhadrasana III
Supta Padangusthasana I (Supine Hand-to-Foot Pose)
Variation: Bottom foot presses into a wall; foam block balanced on top foot; block between hands with the arms reaching overhead
Action: Ground and rebound
This variation of Supta Padangusthasana embodies the concept of stability and ease. The floor and the wall offer support and feedback: The bottom foot has something into which it can ground, and the back body can sense the process of elongation across the floor. The block balanced on the foot encourages a reaching up through the top leg and foot.
Note: The top foot and leg in Supta Padangusthasana I is the standing foot and leg in Virabhadrasana III. Placing a block between the hands applies the action of hugging the outer arms in and offers something tangible to reach away from the wall. All of these actions can be accessed later in Virabhadrasana III which explores the exact same shape.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Variation: Outer edge of the back foot against a wall; block under hand
Action: Lengthen the side body
Utthita Parsvakonasana highlights the length of the side body. It builds on Parighasana (Gate Pose) from part one of this series. The variation of the back foot grounded into the wall gives students an opportunity to incorporate the action of ground and rebound, and therefore find the support to lengthen the torso away from the wall.
Variation: Standing on a block
Action: Compact the outer hip
When designing sequences for your curriculum, it’s useful to include postures that were the focus of past sequences. This gives students an opportunity to revisit what they learned and apply it in a new way. For example, Vrksasana (Tree Pose) was the main focus in our mini-sequence exploring the concept of ground and rebound. In this sequence, students can challenge what they learned by practicing Vrksasana standing on a block. This invigorates their exploration of balance and creates an opportunity to emphasize the compacting of the outer standing hip.
Variation: Strap looped (shoulder-width) around the wrists
Action: Firm the outer upper arms in
Virabhadrasana I is a great posture from which to transition into Virabhdrasana III and therefore serves an important role in this mini-sequence. Getting clear in Warrior I gives students an opportunity to establish the actions for Warrior III before they arrive. The variation of a looped strap (shoulder-width) around the wrists in Virabhdrasana I highlights the action of hugging the outer upper arms in.
Variation: Top foot pressing against a wall; hands on blocks under the shoulders
Action: All of the actions!
Virabhadrasana III brings everything together. The variation of pressing the top foot against the wall incorporates the work of Supta Padangusthasana I and applies it in a different relationship to gravity.
Pro tip: Repeat Virabhadrasana III more than once to give your students a chance to apply and practice the concept of stability and ease.
See also: 3 Tips for Smart Yoga Sequencing
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