If you’re a newly qualified instructor wondering how to plan a yoga class, this article will provide you with the necessary tools to keep your yogis coming back for more. 

In this article we’ll cover:

Before we start though, if you’re not already qualified, our 400 hour Level 3 yoga teacher training course will teach you how to plan a yoga class for a range of abilities. 

You can also develop a niche in a particular style with our Level 4 yoga course! You can find out more about all of our yoga teacher training courses by downloading our free course prospectus!

What Does a Yoga Class Plan Normally Consist of?

cobra how to plan a yoga class graphic

Before we delve into how to plan a yoga class, let’s first establish the key components to consider. 

A yoga plan will first and foremost revolve around the particular style of yoga you decide to teach, or the style of class you want to do.

If you don’t specialise in a particular style you still want to be aware of how you want to pace the class and the kind of person you want to cater to.

You’ll also have to establish which poses (or asanas) you’ll choose, as well as how you’ll use breathing techniques (pranayama) to structure the sequences.

Depending on the style you’ll also have to decide the duration of each pose and how fast you want your transitions to be. 

You may also choose a theme and set an intention for the class, which your yogis can keep returning to in order to ground themselves throughout the class. 

We’ll touch on these components further in our step-by-step ‘how to plan a yoga class’ guide to inform your planning process.

How to Plan a Yoga Class

Step #1- Start Your Yoga Class Lesson Plan by Deciding on a Style and Purpose

warrior 3 how to plan a yoga class graphic

The most important thing you need to remember for how to plan a yoga class is the particular style and pace of class you want to design.

Various styles of yoga differ in everything from their pacing and speed to the specific asanas included in sequences. 

This is why you’ll need to decide on the style first because this will structure everything else in your class!

For example, if you’re interested in becoming an Ashtanga yoga teacher there’s a very strict sequence of postures you’ll have to adhere to in a certain order and speed. 

However, if you want to know how to plan a yoga class for beginners or want tips on teaching a restorative yoga class, these are less strict styles where you’ve got more room to choose a variety of different postures.

You could either choose a specific variety of yoga such as:

  • Rocket yoga
  • Vinyasa 
  • Hatha yoga
  • Hot yoga

Or you could have a class theme or a class based around certain levels such as:

  • Beginners 
  • Beginners to intermediate
  • Summer flow
  • Easy zen flow

Once you’ve decided on the kind of yoga class you want to teach you can also then be more specific about yoga class themes, centering them around a particular mood or time of year such as seasons. 

You also need to consider the demographic here. No matter what style you choose you should be aware of being adaptable and helping people get introduced to new styles!

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Step #2- Plan a Yoga Class With a Specific Time Frame

stopwatch how to plan a yoga class graphic

Next you’ll need to structure the class based on the amount of time you have for the class. This may be dictated by the slot of time that you’re given if you’re working freelance in a studio.

However, if you’re independent and can design your own class to your own schedule you can decide how long you want your class to be.

Students must know the duration of a class as they’ll need to align their practice with their schedule, and choose a class that matches their capabilities.

A standard yoga class is 1-hour long but there are also classes, such as the full Ashtanga series, that last 90-minutes.

‘Express yoga classes’ also last between 30-45 minutes.

You may want to consider leading classes of different durations to accommodate yogis schedules and abilities. 

For beginner yogis, it may be best to organise shorter classes to help them build confidence and stamina gradually rather than overfacing them with a 90-minute practice. 

Conversely, intermediate to advanced yogis may not feel fulfilled by a 30-minute class and so 1-hour or more is best. 

For shorter classes, you may find that performing each asana once is enough yet you may need to repeat some stages to fill more time in longer classes.

We will highlight some pacing tips later in this article to ensure you make the most of your time while staying punctual. 

Step #3- Consider Planning a Yoga Class with a Meditation

easy pose how to plan a yoga class graphic

Once you know how much time you’ll be working with, and what style you want to teach, you’ll need to decide whether to include a meditation.

Most classes will have a short meditation or meditative practice at the start and end of each class.

Meditation before a class can help yogis tap into the right headspace before delving into the physical sequences of the class. 

With that, meditation at the end of the class can help yogis restore tranquillity after an energising class.

The depth and length of this meditation will, again, depend on the style you choose. If you want to become a yin yoga teacher and you’re working on a yin yoga class plan you might include up to 5 or 10 minutes at the start and end of class.

You can either have these moments in silence or have them as guided meditation or guided breathing exercises (pranayama).

Step #4- Choosing the Right Asanas and Sequences for Your Yoga Class

asanas how to plan a yoga class graphic

You’ll then need to select the right asanas for your class to make sure you’re structuring your class appropriately.

A lot of classes will start with a short meditation or easy pose in order to ground class members before class starts.

There are several styles, for instance, that all start with sun salutations as part of the sequence structure.

If you were teaching one of the following styles you would use these either as part of a strict sequence or as a warm up for your class members:

  • Power yoga
  • Vinyasa 
  • Rocket yoga

When compiling an appropriate list of asanas, you must first consider the level of your class. 

For example, if you’re going to teach a beginner’s yoga class you want to include simple poses like Downward Facing Dog and Cat/Cow. These are easy to teach and execute. 

downward dog how to plan a yoga class graphic

Equally, if you want to know how to plan a yoga class for beginners you wouldn’t include inversions such as head stands, as these asanas are dangerous without sufficient experience. 

You will also usually centre class around a certain sequence, progression or even a particular pose.

For example, if you’re interested in becoming a hatha yoga teacher, it’s common for these classes to be progressive and gradually build up to one particular pose. 

If you’re doing this then you’ll want to include asanas that go with the end pose. For example, if you decide to work up to a particular balance such as tree pose, you’ll want to work on balancing asanas throughout the class.

It’s also fairly common to centre a class around a particular part of the body and strengthening that area.

You may decide to do a legs focused class and include all of the following to target and lengthen different muscles:

  • Downward facing dog
  • Triangle pose
  • Half moon pose
  • Standing half split
  • Warrior II

triangle pose how to plan a yoga class image

You should also always give modifications for anybody who has an injury or is a beginner or new to a particular style.

For any pose you should tell class members potential modifications or where they can stay in a pose, giving other class members an opportunity to deepen the stretch or push themselves further.

We’ll look at this in more detail in our next step when we look at the best yoga equipment to use in your classes. 

Step #5- Assemble the Equipment You’ll Need for Your Yoga Class

block how to plan a yoga class graphic

Just as you need to provide modifications for your class members, you’ll need to choose the right equipment to help.

Planning a yoga class for a variety of abilities will mean providing these modifications using equipment such as yoga straps and yoga blocks

So, when you’re deciding on which asanas to include, you need to think about which pieces of equipment will be required to support your modifications.

This will dictate the sorts of poses you include, based on who you’re catering to in the class, as well as how you build up to each pose.

You might choose a pose that involves a block for everyone, even if it’s not necessarily a modification for anybody suffering from an injury.

For example, you may have everybody sit on a block at the start of class to lengthen the spine and start the class by correcting the posture of class members.

This helps start class members’ awareness of their bodies and alignment.

Step #6- How to Plan a Yoga Class with Enough Breaks

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Another key component of a yoga class lesson plan is to be aware of when to suggest breaks. 

You don’t necessarily need to strictly include breaks in your sequences but want to give people enough of an opportunity to take a restful pose if they need to.

It’s important, especially for beginners, that you allow enough time for people to draw themselves back to the breath and ground themselves.

Not only will this inform their practice but also help them to engage without pushing themselves too hard and putting themselves at risk.

The easiest way of doing this is to give opportunities for child’s pose instead of downward facing dog.

Being aware of this will help to structure the class as you can offer these whenever you take a vinyasa at the end of a sequence.

Once you’ve built up to a pose you can do this and offer class members the option of a child’s pose to have a rest and return to the breath.

You can also remind class members that they can take this pose whenever they need a rest and need to return their focus. 

Step #7- Set an Intention for Your Yoga Class

cobra how to plan a yoga class graphic

For each class you should set an intention to ground the practice in a particular way. You don’t have to do this necessarily but it helps, like the breath, to give class members something to return to throughout the class.

This should be abstract enough for class members to interpret it in their own way. For example, you may choose to have one of the following intentions:

  • Practice patience
  • Acceptance
  • Let go of the ego
  • Grounding
  • Self love

Each of these will serve your class members by making them think about why they’ve come to your class on that particular day, and what they want to get out of their practice.

This will also help you structure what you say throughout the class and the verbal reminders you give to class members.

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Tips for Planning a Yoga Class

Now we’ll run through some general tips for how to plan a yoga class, so that you can create the best class for your students.

Tip #1: Jot Down Ideas for Your Plan as You Go

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You may be more than capable of devising a solid plan in one sitting. However, adding new ideas can turn a good class into a great one. 

To do this, jot down new ideas whenever they come to you and find ways to implement them into your class.

You’ll probably find that new ideas pop up when you’re not planning classes and so it’s important to take note of these to enhance your initial plan. 

These may just come to you throughout the week or may be inspired by your own, ongoing practice.

In terms of productivity, you’re more likely to remain focused on a plan when you do it across several stages rather than trying to create multiple plans with different intentions in one go. 

You should do your plan in several drafts as you’ll have to try out the class first in order to work out timings and transitions. 

Tip #2: Perform a Practice Run Before Your Yoga Class

ashtanga how to plan a yoga class image

As we mentioned, when you’re designing your plan you’ll need to leave yourself enough time to work out the timings and transitions.

This is so that you can iron out any mistakes or identify any room for improvement.

This will also ensure that you don’t go over the time of the class as well as designing a class that will fill the time allotted. 

If your class isn’t long enough then you risk compromising the speed of the flow and the pacing of the class.

If you go over or you run out of time you won’t only be compromising the class and its structure in terms of warming up and cooling down, you’ll also potentially disrupt class members’ schedules. 

You should consider recording yourself leading the class and watching it back to see what you’ve done well and areas you could improve on.

You could also use these recordings when you’re marketing your yoga business in Instagram reels or TikTok videos.

Tip #3: Plan Your Speech at Different Intervals Throughout the Class

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You should also schedule in what you’re going to say as well as the asanas you’re going to use.

It’s no use just having the sequence – you’re going to have to communicate that to your class members in an accessible way.

For example, are you teaching an intermediate class where people are likely to be familiar with the sanskrit names for the poses such as savasana?

If you’re teaching a beginners yoga class you’ll probably need to have more verbal instruction and explain the names if not substitute them for the english names of the poses.

You should also have reminders throughout the class which will instruct your class members but also remind them to move with the breath.

This will ground your students as well as show that you have control over the class and the structure.

This is especially important when you’re doing a guided meditation but you also want to remind people of the muscles being targeted, or how a particular pose should feel.

This will mean your class members are getting the most out of your class and show your professionalism and understanding of the practice!

If you’re finding this helpful, why not check out our other articles full of tips on growing your business and other yoga teacher tips:

Yoga Class Plan Templates

In this section, we’re going to bring everything we’ve discussed so far into a yoga class plan template for you to use when devising your next session. 

Here is an example template you could use:

yoga class plan template image

As you can see, the template invites teachers to write the following at the top of the sheet, so that you can maintain focus throughout planning:

  • Intention
  • Duration
  • Style
  • Ability
  • Equipment

Having your class written down in a format like this will give you something to follow whilst you do a practice run.

As mentioned earlier, this also helps you to find the right pace so that you finish on time and so, if you’re just starting out, having a copy of your template may prove beneficial during a class. 

Now, since we’ve covered how to plan a yoga class with our top tips for the process, let’s now provide some examples of yoga class plan templates for different yoga types.

A Hatha Yoga Class Plan Example

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Hatha yoga is the oldest style of yoga and forms the foundation of many of the different styles in the West today.

‘Hatha’ literally means force and so involves moving the body slowly through different asanas and holding poses for a few breaths.

There’s focus on the breath and mindfulness, connecting the breath with movement and developing strength and control. 

This yoga type is easily adaptable and so is ideal for beginners. This is the target audience of the example below:

hatha yoga class plan image

As you can see there’s some very basic poses building up to a more difficult posture once the class is warmed up.

You should punctuate all instructions with any modification options or any moments where you could use a block or strap.

For instance, because this is a beginner’s class, yogis may need to use a strap when lifting the leg for a hamstring stretch.

You can also suggest using a block for a low lunge if class members have tightness in their hips or a weak lower back. 

If you’re moving through the poses a little too quickly, you can easily repeat certain stages.

Conversely, if you’re pushed for time, you can look ahead at your plan to see which areas you could omit. 

So, if you want to instruct Hatha yoga, class plan templates like this can help you to craft the best quality practice for your yogis. 

Let’s now touch on a restorative yoga class plan. 

Restorative Yoga Class Plan Template

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Restorative yoga is a very gentle and therapeutic yoga form that involves holding asanas for longer than other types to completely relax the body, allowing it to heal and rest.

The reason it often involves props such as yoga blocks and bolsters so that the muscles aren’t contracting at all.

The aim with these classes is to be as relaxed in a pose as possible, allowing the body to be fully supported and breathing into each pose.

Sometimes these will be held for up to 10 minutes with the eyes closed over in a meditative state of relaxation.

This is why a restorative yoga class plan will look like less than the others – this is because there will be fewer poses. Here’s our example:

restorative yoga class plan image

As you can see there’s fewer poses and all of them involve a bolster and a block. 

Regardless of ability, everyone in class will use this equipment in order to completely support the body and allow the muscles to relax.

The focus is around supporting but also opening up parts of the body. This is a particularly spiritually influenced practice bringing the energy system into balance as well as the body.

This is why there should be focus on lots of different areas of the body throughout the practice but especially the back and hips!

Yin Yoga Class Plan

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Finally, we have a template and tips for teaching a yin yoga class plan to help guide your planning process.

Similarly to restorative yoga, yin yoga involves holding postures for prolonged periods.

The key difference is that yin yoga targets deep connective tissues, such as:

  • Ligaments
  • Joints
  • Fascia

Yin yoga postures can often feel uncomfortable to perform yet a class aims to teach practitioners how to breathe and deepen postures to enhance flexibility and strength of the connective tissues.

Below is our own yin yoga class plan template:

hip yin yoga class plan template image

This plan focuses on the hips in particular working on poses that stretch the hip flexor muscles in particular.

This is a common focus of a yin class with plenty of options for modifications with blocks and bolsters. 

Before You Go!

Now that you know how to plan a yoga class, you can create the best possible session for your yogis and help them develop their practice. 

Don’t forget that the best thing you can do to plan the best class for students is with OriGym’s Level 4 certificate in yoga teaching, where you’ll plan and deliver a particular style of class as part of assessment.

Download our full free course prospectus to find out about all of our yoga instructor training courses

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About the Author: Emily Evans

Emily OriGym Author
Emily studied English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2021 with a 2:1 BA honours degree. Alongside her degree, she also gained experience in student publication as Forge Press’ Lifestyle Editor and Deputy Editor for Post-Production. This is where her love for content writing stemmed from, which also led her to OriGym. Outside of her work, Emily will either be found on a long hike, at the gym or making a mess trying new healthy recipes in her kitchen!

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