This is the perfect time to share a practice that encourages your students to set intentions for the new year, (re)commit to a consistent practice, and surrender any preconceived ideas they may have about how their intentions will manifest.
We have the perfect new year yoga sequence to ensure your students start their year on the right foot. Feel free to modify this yoga sequence as needed to ensure smooth transitions and cater to the level of your students!
Check out our sequencing guide for some additional helpful tips and tricks for planning your yoga classes!
Try This New Year Yoga Sequence
We've added notes on theming throughout in italics.
Invite your students to find a comfortable seated position such as easy pose (sukhasana) or sitting on the heels (vajrasana).
- Cue them to take a few cleansing breaths in through the nose and out the mouth to symbolically let go of the past year.
After a few moments, invite your students to bring their hands to their hearts, or join their palms, and set an intention for the year ahead.
- One invitation you can share is for your students to set a drishti for the new year, rather than a resolution. Setting a drishti (gazing point) invites your students to bring their focus/awareness to a certain aspect of their life in order to develop a deeper understanding of themselves, rather than trying to reach for something that is external. For example, rather than resolving to spend more time volunteering this year, your students can focus on how they can be of service to others in their daily lives.
Guide your students to move their spine in all directions. You can use the postures suggested below or any other variation that moves the spine in all six directions.
- This movement helps to refresh the flow of blood and energy throughout the body and ensures optimal function of vital organs, the perfect way to refresh the body physically for the new year and this practice.
From a seated position, bring one hand to the floor, and lift the other into the air, coming into a side bend. Repeat on the other side.
Move through a few seated cat-cows with the hands on the knees, alternating between rounding the back and shining the heart forward.
Staying in easy pose, take a seated twist left and right.
From table top position, invite your students to take a few traditional cat-cows, then invite them to move in any dynamic way that feels good for their body (e.g., figure 8’s, circling the hips).
Depending on the length of your class, you may want to add balancing table or other warm-up postures that can be done from table top (e.g., tiger pose, gate pose, supported side plank) to this yoga sequence.
Have your students lift their knees and come into a plank position. Hold here for a few breaths to start to feel the arms and core ignite. From here draw the right knee into the chest and lift it back to the sky three times, before coming into fallen triangle. Repeat on the other side.
- Fallen triangle is included in this sequence to invite your students to embrace the strength that can be present alongside falling/failure. Perceived failure is often a doorway to success if we can draw lessons from our experience. Invite your students to see the lessons in challenges they may encounter this year.
From here, find a downward-facing dog. Encourage your students to move their feet, bend their knees, etc. whatever helps them settle into this posture. Hold for 5 complete breath cycles.
Have your students make their way to tadasana.
- In this posture, emphasize grounding through the feet, drawing in new energy from the earth with each inhale and releasing anything stale or stagnant with each exhale. Remind your students to keep this grounding energy throughout their practice.
Body of the Class
Next, guide your students through a series of sun salutations; either A/B, a combination of both, or one of the numerous variations available.
- Sun salutations help to bring heat to the body and connect your students to their solar plexus chakra, the space of confidence and willpower that can give them the drive and motivation to set their new year’s intentions, and any other planned projects, in motion.
- To learn more about the chakras, download this free e-book, Journey Through The Chakras.
Subsequently, move into postures that open the hips and the heart
- The hips are strongly connected to our emotions, while the heart is our center of love and kindness. These postures can encourage your students to embrace this year with awareness and compassion.
- Teaching these classic yoga postures is a great way to help new students build a strong foundation for their yoga practice. For your returning students, see if you can find new ways of cueing or bring their focus to certain aspects of alignment they may not have noticed before.
You can include postures such as those listed below and either have students hold the postures statically or build a dynamic yoga sequence and move through it a few times:
From here, bring your students into warrior III (or any other balancing posture of your choice such as dancer’s pose, eagle, tree pose, half moon, crow pose, or extended hand-to-toe posture)
- This will allow your students to engage with their center of gravity, embrace wobbles and shakes (which are a normal part of finding balance), and experience the lightness that comes when balance is achieved.
Adding balancing postures to your yoga sequence also provides a number of benefits, including building concentration, improving body awareness, building stability and agility, improving coordination, etc.
Finally, end the body of this new year yoga sequence with an invitation to go upside down, guiding your students through an inversion such as a headstand, handstand, etc. If this is not accessible to your students, you can have them use the wall as a support, partner up to support each other come, or come into another more accessible inversion such as downward-facing dog or dolphin pose.
- Thematically, inversions represent seeing the world from a different perspective. You can invite your students to enter the new year with an openness to learn, challenge themselves, and expand.
After students safely exit their inversion, have them come into child’s pose.
- Emphasize the grounding and nurturing energy of rest and allow your students to notice the contrast from the more dynamic poses that were just practiced.
Let your students breathe here for 1-2 minutes.
From a seated posture, invite your students into a twist such as half lord of the fishes pose.
- This allows them to energetically let go of (twist out) any hesitations and limiting beliefs that may be circling through their mind.
Follow this up with a seated forward fold, inviting any students with reduced mobility to bend into their knees as much as needed.
- This is an introspective posture, encouraging students to begin to turn inwards as the class comes to a close.
To prepare your students for rest, have them take wind-relieving posture on both sides, followed by happy baby pose. At this point in the class, you can also invite them to take any final movements they desire to close out their practice (e.g., shoulder stand, plow pose, double wind relieving pose).
Finally, bring your students into savasana. Invite them to get comfortable and use any props they need to feel at ease.
- This is the most important part of the practice that allows your students to integrate everything they have moved through, and surrender to whatever may come this year. Invite your students to return their focus to their intention.
If you have the time, Yoga Nidra is a great way to end your new year yoga sequence.
- This is a powerful practice that takes intention setting to the next level, by connecting an intention with the deepest layer of our being, the anandamaya kosha (the bliss body).
If you need additional guidance to teach any of the postures mentioned here, check out our yoga pose library which includes step-by-step guidance for teaching, suggested modifications, and contraindications.
I hope this new year yoga sequence helps your students get the kickstart they need to fuel a prosperous and healthy new year!