I had no inkling how drawing yoga poses had enhanced my yoga teaching and class planning until I attended a large workshop for teachers. When the instructor asked us to create a group sequence, the other instructors went to the large post-it paper on the wall and wrote the Sanskrit or English names for the poses. The result was cluttered and confusing, and I struggled to visualize the sequence.
In that moment, I realized the gift I received from my teacher, Gary Kraftsow. In our teacher training, we learned how to sequence yoga classes by sketching stick figures, also known as scribing. This skill gave us a quick, efficient way to prepare classes and it taught us to sequence through visualization. For the first eight years of my teaching journey, I scribed every class, and I continue to use this method today.
Uneasy about drawing? You don’t need to be an artist! Stick figures are easy and fun to draw using a pencil and graph paper. You will come to appreciate this tool and be able to visualize the amazing engineering of the human body and how to move it with ease and grace.
How Sketching Elevates Your Teaching
Scribing taught me so much about the poses including:
- Optimal alignment
- Primary effects of poses
- How to adapt poses to meet students’ abilities and limitations
- When to flow through and when to hold an asana
- When to inhale and when to exhale
All yoga professionals can benefit from learning this vital skill. It can support you in designing effective and efficient classes, workshops, and private sessions. It saves time and enhances the process of creating yoga sequences. A stronger sequence means your students’ experience will be improved.
3 Reasons to Learn to Scribe
It’s a visual aid to designing safe and creative sequencing
When you’re planning a yoga sequence, having a visual will support you in choosing the most efficient poses for your class theme. Start by noticing the direction the spine is moving in the peak pose. From there you can easily picture warm-up poses in which the spine moves in the same direction. Additionally, you can use this visual aid when choosing counter poses for the cool down.
It helps you learn to read students’ alignment
Because stick figures are linear, they easily highlight the important physical and energetic lines of poses. The more you look at them, the more they come alive. Then, when you observe a student deviating from these forms, you can guide them by using verbal cues and gentle assists or suggesting an adaptation that might prevent an injury.
It helps you make handouts for students
A scribed yoga sequence is an added value for your students taking your classes or workshops. It’s even more valuable for your private clients. Having the sequences on a page encourages them to practice outside of the classroom. Your students come to respect your professionalism and appreciate your extra effort in helping them attain their objectives toward health and well-being.