Teaching a Sequence of Yoga Classes as a Series, a review – Teaching Those in Front of You

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“a beginner’s view : the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”

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teaching a sequence of yoga classes as a series, a review – teaching those in front of you




Article Outline
Guest Model for Article, Linda Hartwell
Three Class Premise, Revisited
  • Review
  • Continuity of Effort
  • Recognition, Teaching Those in Front of Me
What’s Changed
  • Intro
  • Chair Based Classes
  • Zumba’s Sentao in the Wings
  • What About Line Dance?
What’s the Same
  • Breath Work
  • AFAA Fitness Guidelines
  • SilverSneakers MSROM as a Core Class
  • Nancy Adler’s (Flying Yogini) Blog Post – “Between the Lines”
Final Thoughts
Late Breaking News Added


back a few months ago, i wrote the first article in what i guess is at least a mini-series now 😉 “teaching a sequence of yoga classes as a series, a beginner’s view

this is my first look back at that experimental beginning, what changes have occurred, and why – plus, what may lie ahead


Guest Model for Article, Linda Hartwell


Guest Model, Linda Hartwell
Guest Model, Linda Hartwell

linda has been a regular in our classes this summer since a friend in class suggested she try us out 😉

she’s the proprietor of the bed & breakfast here in burlington, the hartwell house

plus linda also shot the video for the zumba entry sheila and i did together!

sheila and i have much thanks for her cheerful presence in class –

and for letting us use her to “decorate” our article 😉

hopefully in the future we may have the opportunity of interview linda, and see what impact yoga and fitness have had on her life and daily activities


Three Class Premise, Revisited


i wrote, in the beginning section, three class premise, “the challenge has been, to find the format with enough time to leisurely present and have a group of de-conditioned or beginning people, experience the possibility of integrating and seeing the links between yoga, fitness, and other exercises”

and i mentioned that “there’s a series of fitness ideas i like to work into the yoga classes” –

including the use of visualization, breathing, and feeling how a range of motion feels differently, and similarly, in differing modes of movement (yoga, elastic bands, aerobic dance) –

including having a sequence that covers stretching, strength, and cardio work

having the class experience integrating and seeing the links between yoga and fitness and other exercises, wasn’t as difficult a challenge as i’d feared, and most everyone “accepted” that there’s connections, without any kind of difficulty or resistance that either or any kind of particular movement or benefit to our bodies, is “only” possible from one or the other disciplines

the fitness ideas, likewise, were often welcome and beneficial towards the goal of wellness for oneself


Continuity of Effort

most welcome of all though, was the ability and experience of having a sequence of related classes, spread evenly throughout the week, with days in-between and the weekend for recovery or cross-training

most of the folk in our current class choose to walk quite a bit, though this will be more of a challenge as the weather steadily moves toward the winter

being house-bound for days may highlight the need even more to develop a home practice


Recognition, Teaching Those in Front of Me

what i hadn’t expected, was accepting where my class participants were, in terms of ability, where they needed to begin from, and how much and how quickly they could progress toward their particular fullness of wellness

my own accepting of the people in front of us each day, for three times a week, has lead to the decision to go completely chair based, at least for now


What’s Changed

Hands to the Heart, Linda Hartwell
Hands to the Heart, Linda Hartwell


most of all, is my own perception of the folk in front of me

the current class can do some mat work, some standing weight work, and some standing aerobic work

they are willing, they are dogged and will push themselves to their limit

and that’s good, to a point –

the class is so determined, what with constantly being fed fitness info on how bone growth is believed to be being encouraged by the quantity and quality of their movements, in any of the exercises, whether yoga, weights, or even line dance – that they do what we all tend to do at times –

push too hard too soon, without adequate recovery, and get burned out or too sore

in my first article on a sequence of classes as a series, i mentioned “i’ve sometimes thought i’d gotten around recovery, but really only delayed it” with a link to an article i have, on the need for recovery –

these good folk were even trying to get around needing to give themselves time for recovery, they were plowing right through it! 😉

which re-emphasized to my wife and myself one of the fundamental driving reasons we have gone into learning and teaching about fitness :

all the things about getting & staying fit we never heard nor told enough about!

recovery is just one of those; we like sharing fitness tips in our classes 😉


Chair Bases Classes

the answer was provided by the class members themselves –

as the time spent doing exercise increased from our ten-minute starting block, our class initially continued to relish their improvements in their ability to sustain a pose, or weight sequence, or aerobic routine –

but more and more frequently would reach for one of the near-by chairs we always have in class, and clearly exhausted with effort, set themselves down, catch their strength, then continue with the class work while in the chair –

once one person acknowledged to themself they needed to use a chair, within minutes the other class members gave themselves the same permission

there was clearly no sense of pretense or copping out, this was a desired preference –

and it allowed them to express their desire to continue improving their fitness

these folks internal wisdom was telling us what we need to do –

provide more chair time, and we did

the result has been a much more enthusiastic looking-forward-to by the class to each day’s fitness work


will we still do some mat or standing work? yes, but on their timetable

the smiles of accomplishment and well being engendered and internalized are too significant to ignore the benefits of their preference

besides, as i’ve mentioned in my review of Stronger Seniors’ yoga dvd, chair routines are no wimpy work, both sheila and i gladly use them as recovery cross-training between our own yoga, jazzercise, or zumba sets 😉


Zumba’s Sentao in the Wings

i’d be remiss if i didn’t also mention the impact knowing zumba is preparing a specialty certification of chair-based zumba, tentatively, i believe, called sentao, which is spanish for seated

it’ll be interesting to learn more about this new program, who it’s targeting, etc

as i learn more info on this, i’ll be sure and let people know


What About Line Dance?

it’s interesting that the ladies in our classes want to do line dance, but they say it’s too hard after our friday aerobic chair class, and want to know if they can do some line dance after our chair based yoga class 😉

why yes! of course!


What’s the Same

Swan Dive Forward Bend (enroute), Linda Hartwell
Swan Dive Forward Bend (enroute), Linda Hartwell

Breath Work

some things not only have remained the same, but have even been enhanced

all our classes begin with three yogic breathing exercises, and are strongly looked forward to

we’ve even been able, at the class members’ request, to now advance the third breathing exercise, a modified fire breath sequence sheila and i learned in a silversneakers yoga instructor’s class, to a short full fire breath set

now that’s playing fire with fire! 😉


AFAA Fitness Guidelines

afaa, as well as other national fitness certifying bodies like acsm and ace, has always emphasized a continuity of doable effort

a nice article i found via a google search, from “workouts for you“, says :

“Frequency. Consider how much time each week you truly will devote to this workout. Be realistic. There’s no purpose in setting expectations so high that you likely will fail. Remember, the ACSM guidelines are 3-5 times per week, so a good start would be three days.”

being realistic about how much can be done, especially when first beginning or resuming a workout routine, is part of why we like to build our classes with ten minute work out sets


SilverSneakers MSROM as a Core Class

msrom (muscle strength range of motion, affectionately called miss rom by the silversneaker folk) is the core required course from silversneakers to be able to teach in their sponsored classes at y’s and fitness centers around the country

at our first class, sheila and i had expected that cardio work would be the primary concern for most seniors, but were taught that, due to frailty and loss of muscle mass and inactivity, strengthening was considered the first thing to emphasize

though our own classes first started with yoga stretching and strengthening, we did find the class responded with most need-recognition to the weights chair class before they did the aerobics chair class

silversneakers also taught us that, developing stronger muscles for daily living, not only helped minimize injuries and falls, but also helped the body create more demand for oxygen intake to fuel those muscles, and from that, aerobic cardio work became more doable

interesting huh? 😉


Nancy Adler’s (Flying Yogini) Blog Post – “Between the Lines”

finally, in a post that reminded me of my own post on teaching limitations, but in her usual entertaining and easy to understand manner, nancy at her site, flying yogini, had a nice post entitled, “between the lines” :

“draw a line right where your feet are at this moment. Then take the biggest step you can and draw a line where you arrive..That space you just created is your reach: the amazing vastness within which you move and that which needs to be appreciated…

“Step back and look at what you just marked: those lines you drew are not boundaries but the arms that hold in the greatness of who you are 99.9% of the time. They gather up the breath, the space, the wonder and the gifts that you offer to others and yourself….”

what she says fits so nicely with what i feel is the essence of accepting how much good a person can do in chair work

while my own article on limitations spoke to finding awareness in accepting and working within one’s limitations, nancy asserts a great way to find those limits of awareness, and then enjoy the heck out of those limitations, celebrate the huge middle core of ourselves

the “edges” will still always be there to “play” with when one is ready and wanting to…

so, whether because of age, injury, illness, or simple inactivity, chair work then, is an opportunity to go at one’s pace within a boundary that allows one to “recover” without having to give up your seat to the big show…a healthier life 😉

take your seat ahead of time, a front row seat to your own health and enjoyment

and when you’re ready, hey, then stand up (for yourself) 😉


Final Thoughts


in my initial article on teaching a sequence of yoga classes as a series, i wrote, “this is an experiment worth working with”

it still holds true –

sheila and i have learned much the past year and a half –

much that explained what we’d been doing, right or incorrectly –

much that we didn’t even realize to begin with that we needed to learn –

and much that we know we’ll only learn as we continue to both practice, and teach…


it’s a grand experiment –

maybe as grand as life itself 😉 learning what works, with whom, and when…


Late Breaking News Added

our class location business, the fitness center downtown, is located the first level below a two story borders bookstore in downtown burlington

because the borders stores nationwide have closed, the owner of the fitness center where we teach, has notified us that her lease on the fitness location has not been renewed past the end of this month

at this time we are viewing continuing our 3 set sequence in a private setting for our core group

as this firms up next month, we’ll be sure to post an update

namaste – con dios – god be with you



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