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Spin the Yogi: Crafting a Creative Class

in YD News

I was lucky enough to attend the Yoga Tune Up Super Summit last September, where I was able to practice with my own teacher trainer, Sarah Court. Like most of the sessions and practices I attended, I felt inspired to take what I had learned from her back to my own classes that I teach.

The class that Sarah had built was an inspiring sequence based around using the large muscles on the back of the body, a.k.a. posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, lats, etc.). She taught an incredibly creative and informative class by giving herself a few simple guidelines and working within a framework.

Since my return from the Summit, I’ve taught several classes inspired by sequences I learned while attending, but I hadn’t found the right way to use Sarah’s method of setting up parameters to build a creative sequence…until last week.

I knew I wanted to let my class pick some poses and some areas to use therapy balls for self-massage, and then I would make up a sequence using their ideas. What I didn’t know was how I’d get the ball rolling, so to speak. Enter “Spin the Yogi.”

I walked into the studio and wrote the following on the chalkboard wall:

  • Asana
  • Roll
  • Work

My students made a circle around me, I rolled myself into a little ball, and all of them spun me like a human Wheel of Fortune to point at students at random.

Spinning and landing on a student one at a time, we selected:

  • Three asanas
  • Two places on the body to roll with our therapy balls
  • One thing “to work on”

I left the last item very open. I told them we could work on something they struggle with, something they’d like to try but haven’t, or something at the rope wall (one of the great features of my home studio), or a prop I had pulled into the room (blocks, bands, straps, and blankets).

Here’s what they came up with:

  • Happy Baby (Balasana), Camel (Ustrasana), and Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) poses
  • Shoulder and low back rolling
  • Partner work (the coolest choice of the night!)

I can’t cover the entire class here, but you might notice they picked two backbends, which led to some good talking points. I thought about Sarah’s class and used some bridge variations with one foot on a block. We practiced Camel variations with blocks and at the rope wall. We flipped our Camels onto the ground for Bow (Dhanurasana) with a partner assist of a fist to the sacrum.

My students enjoyed making some selections for our practice and were interested and amused in my ability to weave them together. Leaving yourself open to every option available may seem overwhelming when you’re practicing. Setting some parameters for the practice or sequence may prove inspiring. You don’t have to turn yourself into the Wheel of Yoga…but I can vouch that it’s pretty fun if you decide to try.


Tiffany Holmes is a technical writer by day, Yoga Tune Up teacher by night. She enjoys helping people learn how to move better and understand how they are put together. You can find her in the great state of Indiana, frightening her students at Studio Seva Yoga or CrossFit Tactical Strength. Midwest is best!

34 comments… add one
  • Brian

    Yoga should be free

  • Such an interesting way to engage and connect with students. Very creative. Thank you for this.

  • Stacey

    Ugh, partner work. Not a fan. For me the practice is too personal and internal.

  • Nepal

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  • Such an interesting way to engage and connect with students. Very creative. Thank you for this.

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  • I love this post! Doing my teacher training right now so this information is really useful for drawing inspiration 🙂

  • Great way to interact with students, yoga is the best practice, keep going.

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  • Nice post about to spin the Yogi crafting a creative class, this is very helpful for the yoga lovers, thanks for sharing…

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  • Very creative way to break up what can become monotonous.

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  • Cathy Geier

    Interesting! So what you are saying is that you allowed students to choose poses they wanted and you wove those into a sequence which included the poses and also 2 types of use of tune up balls? Interesting and novel. I keep learning that there are many ways to ‘warm-up” a class and groups of muscles by starting slowly and moving many joints including in many cases surya namaskar 1 & 2.. and then building onto that. Happy baby can be done at many times in a class. Camel can be done after some back bend prep. I am very interested in the yoga tune up methodology.. what from the summit did you learn which you included into the class? I have been reading abotu Yoga Tune-Up and tryign to figur eout what elements of yoga or anatomy or functional movement are used in Y T-Up. Can you let us know?

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  • I’m going to put it into practice with a small group that I work with, I think that through the sequences a good reinforcement is achieved. Thank you again and best regards.

  • I love creative yoga classes. Changing things up keeps me mentally stimulated and I enjoy the class more

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