A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Yoga Sequence Centered on a Peak Pose
I hope this 7-step formula for creating a yoga lesson plan around a Peak Pose helps to spark your own yoga lesson planning creativity.
Peak Pose & Theme
Pick a pose you’d like your students to learn more about. Instead of your students practising a pose for the traditional 1 to 5 minutes, they get to spend 10 to 20 minutes mastering it.
For example, if your peak pose was Crow Pose (Bakasana), you could say something like this at the beginning of class…
“Crow Pose, Bakasana in Sanskrit,
is going to be our peak pose.
When taking flight in Bakasana,
feel a world of endless opportunities
opening up in front of you.”
Then throughout the class, keep bringing up the theme. Don’t just bring the theme up at the beginning and the end. Weave it into the class. You can’t overdo it. It’s impossible to overdo it. Allow yourself to weave away!
Crow Lesson Plan Theme Examples
Crows are anything but shy. They are the extroverts of the bird world. Sometimes it’s good to be bolder, braver and brazen in how you express yourself. Call upon crow energy to move you into confidence.
Crows can’t resist sparkly things. They’ve just got to check stuff out. When you find yourself getting stuck in a rut, call upon crow energy to make you curious and go off exploring.
Crows are known to build their nests in very tall trees. By doing so, they get a better perspective on their surroundings. What areas of your life could benefit from seeing it from a higher perspective?
Have you ever watched a group of crows ganging up together and chasing off predatory birds much bigger than they are? They work as a group, especially when dealing with adversity. Do you have an effective support group in your life? If not, it may be time to cultivate one.
The crow is highly aware of the looming danger. What areas of your life may cause danger if it’s not sorted out now?
Wouldn’t it be just great if you could effortlessly store (remember) every single Sanskrit name in your brain?
But, let me guess. You think you’ve got a bad memory.
You’ve got a marvellous mind, you just ain’t using it right. Here’s a memory tactic so you never forget the Sanskrit for crow pose (BAKasana)…
Imagine you’ve got a crow on your BAK (back) when practising the crow pose. Feel its claws in your BAK. Hear the loud cawing as it tells you the steps on how to get into crow pose.
The trick to remember is to make the scene as bizarre as possible. It’s easy once you let your imagination out to play!
If you like this memory trick, you may like the blog post I wrote about how to remember your students’ names.
Revel In Research
Go to town on researching your peak pose. You could look through your yoga books, watch some youtube videos or use the Yoga Genie Lesson Planner.
Here are some teaching tips for Bakasana to get you started…
- Develops 3 C’s: concentration, coordination & confidence.
- The focus is on subtle control and coordination in the core, the Bandhas.
- Let your mind feel as light as a bird.
- Perform baby Bakasana (lifting one leg at a time).
- Maintain a straight gaze so that the body balances.
- Return to Tadasana (mountain pose).
- Keep your neck straight to avoid sprains and strains.
- As you exhale feel that the floor is pushing you up.
- Feel the shoulder blades broaden on your back.
- Press through the arms.
- Draw the belly in.
- Breathe without releasing your strong, active core.
BAKasana puts a lot of weight on the hands and wrists. At least one or two people in your class will have weak wrists. That means you need to crank out a modification. I tell my students that a modification is ‘magic’ because it invokes the secret universal law of Sometimes Less Is More.
Three modifications for BAKasana…
1. If you feel pain in the wrists, curl your fingers slightly instead of spreading them out.
2. Use a partner for better balance. Your partner can support you as you lean forward and lift your feet off the ground so that you don’t topple over.
3. Lift your heels until you are balancing on the balls of your feet. Stay there instead of lifting off into BAKasana.
And for your advanced students, you could give them these magic modifications…
- Eka Pada Bakasana I: One-Legged Crow Pose
- Eka Pada Bakasana II: One-Legged Crow Pose
- Handstand to Bakasana: Lower knees onto upper arms
- Chaturanga: Jump back from BAKasana to Plank
- Jump to Bakasana from Downward Facing Dog
- Lower head down from Bakasana to Tripod headstand, tuck legs and lift back to BAKasana
- Side Crow (Parsva BAKasana)
If it’s a challenging pose (e.g crow) make it a priority to prepare students for it.
All the postures leading up to your peak pose will help prepare the student’s body, mind & spirit for practising it for 10 to 20 minutes. The key to preparation poses is to make it easier for your students to physically and mentally take flight when it comes time to practice Bakasana.
Crow Preparation Poses
For the crow pose, you could include wrist and arm strengtheners in your lesson plan such as
- Mula Bandha: The Root Lift/Pelvic Floor
- Uddiyana Bandha: Upward Abdominal Lift
- Jalandhara Bandha: Throat Lift
Other Preparation Poses
- Boat Pose (Navasana)
- Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Garland Pose (Malasana)
- Gorilla Pose (Padahastasana)
- Plank Pose (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)
- Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
Weave The Theme
Dare to let lose the yoga poet within when teaching a class.
Adding a bit of yoga imagery to your class is magical. It lifts the energy and spirits of your students. I’m not religious, but I am impressed by the poetry to be found in the Bible. It’s overflowing with imagery, which is the secret behind its success (most read book on the planet). Imagery turns the mundane into magic.
Below is some crow imagery that you can weave into throughout the class (anything positive to do with the crow is fair game for your crow theme).
For example, during one of the preparation poses, you could say:
“Crows are well known for their adaptability. We humans sometimes get stuck in a rut. And when that happens, tapping into crow energy by practicing Crow Pose can help us fly out of ruts and soar into a world of endless opportunities.
I gave the example of “adaptability” above.
Here are several more crow characteristics:
- Higher perspective
- Personal transformation
Shift Into Reverse Gear
It’s time to reverse the key actions of the pose. You’ll want to relax and stretch the muscles that supported the pose.
Counter poses for Crow Pose
- Cow Face Pose: arm stretch
- Half camel (Ardha Ustrasana): abdominal stretch
- Full camel pose (Ustrasana): abdominal stretch
- Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): stretch core and arms
Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit
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