Why Yoga Stick Figures Are Essential For Teaching Yoga & How You Can Learn Them Too!
In my experience, using yoga stick figures as part of my teaching toolkit is the easiest and most effective way to communicate with my students and myself! The stick figure system takes a bit of practice, but once you get comfortable with it, you’ll experience so many benefits. I've learned stick figures from my teachers, and I also recently took an online stick figures course that I highly recommend (more details on the course below)! Here are some of the reasons I think EVERYONE needs to use stick figures!
They will help you learn how to sequence intelligently. In the Viniyoga tradition, our sequencing is based on the movement and direction of the spine. When I was first learning to sequence intelligently, being able to look at my sequences and see the directional movement of the spine on paper was essential in assessing the effectiveness and safety of the postures I chose and what order I put them in. Whether you sequence based on the spine or have another system, stick figures will help you SEE how your students will move within your sequence.
They are the easiest way to communicate with your students. If you are designing sequences for private lessons or home practice for your students, stick figures are the BEST way to share them! Not all students, regardless of their yoga experience, will know the English or Sanskrit words for the postures. But they WILL be able to see your pictures and know exactly what to do!
They are a universal language for the yoga community. There are so many lineages of yoga, and even more creative spin-offs of those lineages right now, which is awesome! But sometimes you might find that different lineages have different names for the postures in English AND in Sanskrit. Some postures only have an English name, and some only have a Sanskrit name. Sometimes we might even teach things that don’t have a name at all – it can get confusing! Take the guesswork out by communicating through stick figures! When I give out sequences, I do my best to teach students about the traditions of my lineage by providing the Sanskrit names for postures, but only as a supplement to my stick figures. The main goal is getting them the benefit from the postures!
They make it way easier to include breath adaptations, postural variations, modifications, or any of the more complex things you want to notate. For example, if you are including a specific arm variation in a posture to create a certain effect or weave consistency through the practice, it is much easier to draw your yogi than write out “left hand rests on the low back, while the right arm sweeps”. You can use arrows and numbers to notate breath adaptations, and draw in props or add a second stick figure to provide modifications rather than writing it all out with words. This can be particularly helpful if you design integrated practices or therapeutic yoga practices.
People just love them. They are cute and fun and students find them easy to use.
OK NOW WHAT?? HOW DO I BEGIN MY JOURNEY WITH STICK FIGURES??
I’m glad you asked! All you need is someone who knows the system RELLY WELL to teach you. In order to be effective with stick figures, you want to practice them, use them all the time, and have someone teach you the system!
I highly recommend this online course at omchantress.com. It is easy to follow, and Flissy gives you all the tools and techniques for the effective use of stick figures! She provides practice sheet downloads and sample sequences, plus the course is in video form, so you can always go back and watch parts that you might need to refresh. Even after using stick figures for years, this course was very helpful for me in continuing to learn advanced techniques and hash out some of the trickier things you may not learn in your basic training. For instance, one piece that was especially helpful for me was her instruction on how to include all the different types of props for a restorative class! Her fun and sweet personality makes this course so enjoyable, and I think it includes all of the details you’ll need for basic and advanced use of stick figures!
I hope this has been informational for you, please let me know if you have questions about using stick figures or the recommended course above! Happy teaching :)