Chat GPT & yoga

Yesterday, I decided to test Chat GPT in a knowledge realm I know well, yoga. I wanted a new sequence for today’s class, so I gave it this prompt:

Hi, Chat GPT. I’m a yoga teacher. I teach classes online. Can you help me create a 15 minute class for my middle aged students? I want to put the asanas in a sequence that starts with standing poses and ends with seated poses.

I know that I’m talking to a computer and that just like programming, prompting well is the key to getting good answers, so I made sure to be as clear as I could about my circumstances and expectations. I used keywords to modify the kind of yoga class; I gave a time frame and was specific about the order of the poses.

Chat GPT did pretty well. It spit out an acceptable 15 minute sequence.

Absolutely! I’d be happy to help. Here’s a 15-minute sequence of standing and seated poses:

  1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – Stand tall and grounded, with your feet together or hip-distance apart. Take deep breaths in and out, feeling your feet rooted in the ground and imagining energy moving up through your spine.
  2. Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) – Begin with hands at your heart center, inhaling to extend your arms overhead, and exhaling to fold forward into Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Inhale to Halfway Lift (Ardha Uttanasana) and exhale back to Forward Fold. Inhale to step your right foot back into Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), then your left foot back into Plank Pose. Exhale down to Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank), inhale to Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), and exhale back to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). You can hold Downward Dog for a few breaths before repeating the sequence on the other side.
  3. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) – From Downward Dog, step your right foot forward into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II). Straighten your right leg and reach your right hand forward, resting it on your right shin or ankle. Extend your left arm toward the sky and gaze up. Hold for a few breaths before coming back to Warrior II, then repeat on the other side.
  4. Half Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana) – Come down to your hands and knees, then bring your right knee forward and your right foot to your left wrist. Slide your left leg back, coming into Pigeon Pose. For a gentler variation, fold forward over your front leg and rest your forehead on your hands or a block. Hold for a few breaths before coming back up, then repeat on the other side.
  5. Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana) – Come to a seated position with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your foot on the ground, then cross your left leg over your right thigh. Wrap your left arm around your left leg and bring your right hand behind you, twisting to the left. Hold for a few breaths before coming back to center, then repeat on the other side.
  6. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana) – Extend both legs forward and rest your hands on your thighs or shins. Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to fold forward, reaching for your feet or ankles. Hold for a few breaths before coming back up.
  7. Savasana – Lie down on your back with your arms at your sides, palms facing up. Relax your whole body and let yourself rest for a few minutes, feeling the benefits of your practice.

I hope this sequence serves you and your middle-aged students well! As always, be sure to modify and adjust the poses as needed for individual bodies and purposes.

Chat GPT

But I realised I wanted a class that was a bit longer with more focus on shoulder stretches. I went back and forth with the AI a couple of times, adding new requests.

The answers were inconsistent with my expectations. That was mainly because I was prompting insufficiently. For example, a few iterations after the sequence above, I had one that was close, but not quite long enough. I asked “Can you add four or five more poses to this sequence, please?” and received a list of 4 more poses. Which is what I asked for, but I wanted them integrated into the sequence.

But inconsistency was rife and it wasn’t all my fault. Chat GPT’s text was inconsistent from answer to answer. Sometimes a pose was simply listed with its name, sometimes it had instructions and cues, sometimes a time or number of breaths to hold. For example, I had three versions of mountain pose starting sequences:

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – Stand tall and grounded, with your feet together or hip-distance apart. Take deep breaths in and out, feeling your feet rooted in the ground and imagining energy moving up through your spine.

first version

Begin in Mountain pose, standing tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides, and gaze forward.

second version

Mountain Pose

third version

Eventually, I decided to be very explicit about the poses and less detailed about everything else. I reiterated a list of the asanas ChatGPT had given me already and asked for a yoga sequence. It reordered my list, added some detail, and this is what I taught in this morning’s session:

  1. Mountain Pose
  2. Sun Salutation A (5 rounds)
  3. Downward Facing Dog
  4. Warrior II
  5. Triangle
  6. Tree Pose
  7. Half Pigeon Pose (right side)
  8. Half Pigeon Pose (left side)
  9. Seated Spinal Twist (right side)
  10. Seated Spinal Twist (left side)
  11. Seated Forward Fold
  12. Bridge
  13. Thread the Needle (right side)
  14. Thread the Needle (left side)
  15. Puppy Pose
  16. Child’s Pose
  17. Neck Stretch
  18. Eagle Arms
  19. Shoulder Rolls
  20. Shoulder Stretch
  21. Savasana

Hold each pose for 5-10 breaths. Take breaks in between if necessary. End with a 5 minute Savasana. Enjoy!

Chat GPT

It went okay. On the fly, I had to make modifications to get us from one asana to the next in some places, but overall, it was a good class moderately paced with shoulder-focussed posed towards the end.

Honestly, though, I think I could have come up with a better class in less time. Like most of the professionals in this video from Wired concluded, I don’t think Chat GPT is going to take over this work from me very soon.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.