After attending a wide variety of yoga classes with a range of teachers, most people can start to tell the difference between a great class and one that needs some improvement. It’s often more difficult to put your finger on what exactly makes a yoga class truly stand out.
Great classes generally stem from great sequencing. Some schools of yoga like Ashtanga or Bikram incorporate the same series of postures in every class; however, other schools, like Jivamukti, rely on teachers to create inspiring and engaging sequences that challenge their students. Taking into consideration their students’ ability levels, many teachers begin their classes by choosing a “peak pose” and designing a practice that builds up to the pose. For example, if a teacher chose “bird of paradise” as a peak pose, he or she might prepare students for this challenging asana by incorporating a series of balancing poses, binds, and hamstring stretches. This strategy helps students feel mentally and physically prepared to try the peak pose. In this practice, the teacher will likely integrate both seated and standing asanas, all while encouraging students to stay in touch with their breath. Combining the mental, even spiritual, focus on the breath with the physical challenge of building the poses helps create a more meaningful yoga practice.