At the heart of personal yoga practice, regardless of whether it is Hatha Yoga or Kundalini Yoga, lies yoga sets. The building block for these sets are, of course yoga poses and exercises, and how to put them together in order to design effective sets and routines is a key aspect of yoga as well. In this article I would like to give you six important guidelines on how to construct these sets.
6 Guidelines for Designing Kundalini & Hatha Yoga Sets:
1. Who Should Design Yoga Sets:
Do not try to design a set if you are just beginning yoga practice. Attend some classes first and develop your personal practice before tying to design your own routines and sets. The last thing you want to do is practice yoga and create more injuries and imbalances for yourself.
2. Yoga Sets Should be Balanced:
This is one of the most important aspects of a yoga set. By balance here I mean that the poses that twist and stretch you one way, should at some point be balanced with poses that twist and stretch you the other way. Similarly, you should design sets that stretch both arms, both legs, etc, equally if possible. In addition, rotations done in one direction should be followed by rotations done in the other direction.
So if in your set you have a backward bending yoga posture, then at some point it is wise to have a forward bending yoga pose as well. As an example, if you employ Cobra Pose early in your set, you can balance it with the Forward Bending Pose sometime later. This will ensure that you don’t end up creating sets after which you feel out of balance and un-centered.
3. Chakras Work Should Be Done Low to High:
In general the rule to follow, especially for Kundalini Yoga Kriyas, is to start working on the lower chakras first and then move up towards the higher chakras. So you would tend to do an exercise like Crow Pose, which works on the Root Chakra, early in the set and do Stretch Pose, which works on the Navel Chakra, sometime after that. This helps to sequentially increase the vibration of the energy higher and higher.
4. Yoga Breathing Guidelines:
For most exercises and postures a corresponding breath is indicated. In most cases, there are several options available that allow you to breathe at a level which is comfortable for you. So advanced practitioners might do Breath of Fire, while a beginner might do Long Deep Breathing with a particular pose.
One rule with yoga breathing though, is that generally you should inhale when expanding the chest and abdominal region and exhale during the movement which contracts these regions. This allows for maximum benefit from the movements and exercises.
5. Rest Periods:
It is wise to design specific rest periods within a set. The one important aspect though of rest, which should be included in every Kundalini Yoga kriya, is a period of relaxation at the end of the kriya.
This relaxation time is critical to allow the body to assimilate all the energy that has been awakened by the yoga exercises. It is during this time, the body heals, grows and nourishes itself.
If your set consists mostly of difficult yoga poses and exercises only, make sure you do a warm-up set first before jumping into advanced postures. If you plan to do your set only, then ensure that it first starts off with simple yoga postures and movements, so that you are properly warmed up, then moves on to the more challenging exercises. Warm-ups and not overdoing it are your best defenses against injury.
Summary of Making Your Own Yoga Sets:
The sciences of Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, etc, are tools to help you in your own unique path to spiritual awakening. Designing your own Yoga Sets, to help you overcome your personal challenges, I think is a valuable skill to learn. I hope the guidelines above help you maximize the benefits from your personal yoga practice.