A Holiday Gift for You: Build Your Own Feel-Good Stretch Sequence


Getting bored with your go-to yoga routine? Whether you’re a yoga teacher looking for fresh ways to sequence your class or a home practitioner who wants to try something new, this “let the fates decide” sequencing method is a great way to step away from your typical yoga “blueprint,” particularly on those days when you really want to explore something new, but aren’t sure where to begin.

It also adds an element of surprise, and is a great way to (literally) shake things up in a slower-paced class—in particular, one where you might be holding poses for a set period of time, or working on “skills and drills.” Not to mention it’s a great way to reuse any holiday gift bags you might receive, or, if you’re a teacher, to give your class a festive theme!

How It Works

Grab a few paper lunch sacks or the aforementioned gift bags and label them with the specific pose or movement categories you want to offer in your class—for example, standing poses, balance poses, and core work. Write several different options on note cards and place them in their appropriate bags. Then, after your warm-up, shake up your bags and let the fates decide what happens next! Pull an option from each bag, and repeat! The amount of times you cycle through the bags will depend on your allotted class or practice time, but be sure to include enough time at the end for a short cooldown and savasana. You could even create a separate bag with cooldown options, such as bridge pose, pigeon, and supine twists! 

The Benefits

This type of sequencing can be fun for students and foster a sense of community—after all, nothing brings folks together like a collective groan when the teacher pulls a one-minute plank hold out of the bag! It also takes the pressure off of teachers or home practitioners to always come up with something new. You can use the same bags several classes in a row and wind up with different sequences each time. You can also switch out some of the options every class to really keep things interesting.

Tips: Make sure the poses and practices you include in your bags don’t require a lot of specialized preparation. And be specific: Write down hold times, breath cycles, or number of reps for each option, and keep the amount of time each option takes relatively consistent. If you’re holding poses for time, it can be helpful to have a timer on hand. 

Types of Classes It Works Best For

Classes where you hold poses for some time, such as hatha yoga classes focused on building stamina, yin classes, and restorative classes. This method also works great for fusion and cross-training classes such as high intensity interval training (HIIT) yoga classes.

Here are some suggestions for poses you might include in a feel-good, stretch-focused class:

Bag 1: Lower-Body Stretches

Pigeon pose (2 minutes on each side) 

Kneeling toe stretch (1 minute)

Cow face pose (just the leg position, 2 minutes on each side) 

Janu sirsasana (Head to knee pose) (2 minutes on each side) 

Fire log pose (2 minutes on each side)

Bag 2: Upper-Body Stretches and Backbends 

Cow face arms (sitting cross-legged or kneeling, 2 minutes on each side) 

Reclined hero (2 minutes) 

Supported bridge pose (2 minutes) 

Supine twist (2 minutes on each side)

Bag 3: Super Relaxing Supine Poses

Legs up the wall pose (2 minutes)

Reclined hand to big toe pose wrapped in a strap (2 minutes on each side) 

Reclined baby cradle variation (2 minutes on each side) 

Revolved hand to big toe pose 

This article was adapted from Yoga Where You Are: Customize Your Practice for Your Body and Your Life© 2020 by Dianne Bondy and Kat Heagberg. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

Photography: Andrea Killam

About the Teacher

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Dianne Bondy
Dianne Bondy is a social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the Yoga... Read more

About the Teacher

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Kat Heagberg (Rebar)
Hi, I’m Kat! I’m a teacher for Yoga International and co-author of Yoga Where You Are with Dianne Bondy... Read more