Problems with Becoming a Popular Yoga Teacher

July 22nd, 2014

popular yoga teacherBy Gopi Rao

Becoming a yoga teacher – for many people, it’s the positive achievement that comes after years of practice, hundreds of hours spent in intensive teacher training, and buckets of sweat and tears spilled on yoga mats. It’s the final culmination of hard work, something to celebrate and cherish. However, many teachers run into unexpected problems, as they become a popular yoga teacher in their community. These problems can lead to instructor burnout, stress, and even depression. Watch out for these issues many popular yoga teachers struggle with so that you can be prepared in the event they arise in your own teaching experiences.

Scattered Schedules

Many people think that when they start teaching, they will have a specific time slot for their classes. This is often not the case, especially as you become more popular and grow in demand. New teachers are often overwhelmed by their schedule (or lack of!) when they start working. One studio may offer you a morning slot at 6:30, while another wants you to teach their candlelight yoga class at 8 – on the same day. Chances are, you’ll want to teach both classes, but it means your day is going to be long, with a lot of empty space in the middle of the day. The problem is that many people want to practice yoga at different times of the day, and as an in-demand yoga instructor, you’ll need to tailor your schedule around class times and openings. To make things easier on yourself, try to only take classes at times you know you will be functioning well – if you aren’t a morning person, try to avoid those sunrise classes!

Overcrowded Classes

If your class starts getting a lot of attention or if it is at a prime time, you may find that it gets really crowded, really quickly. Some studios have yoga rooms large enough to hold 50+ people, and it can get filled up easily. While there’s nothing wrong with a big class, it can be overwhelming for some teachers, especially those fresh out of training. When there are a lot of people, it can be difficult to pick out students who need adjustments or tailor the sequence to meet the needs of the class. It can also be easy to lose the personal, spiritual connection in a class packed with people. Many teachers aren’t prepared for this, and it can be a difficult adjustment. If you are struggling with this issue, talk to the studio to see about conducting a similar class on a different day, or talk to some of your students to see if they are available at a different time for a smaller class.

Personal Practice

Before people begin teaching, they usually practice yoga themselves on a daily basis. However, once instructors begin teaching multiple public or private classes, their own practice may fall by the wayside. This can cause a teacher to lose what they were so passionate about before they started teaching. In order to avoid burnout, it’s important to keep up with your own practice. While you may not have as much time each day, it’s still important to find at least a little time for yourself daily. Doing some of your favorite poses on your own time can help you feel invigorated and restored, giving you the boost you need to stay excited about being a yoga instructor. Finding the balance between the business side of yoga and spiritual side of the practice can be tricky, even for the most experienced yoga instructors. If you are feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, remember that there is always a solution – you just need to find it. Don’t give up – remember why you started yoga and you can push through even the most difficult teaching problems.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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Enthusiastically Teaching Yoga Classes

July 16th, 2014

teaching pranayama

By Bhavan Kumar, CYT 500

Being a yoga teacher is very rewarding. It’s a job where you get to help people physically and mentally, you can be active and moving throughout the day, and you have flexibility and choice in your work schedule. However, like any job, there are going to be days when it’s hard to get out of bed and enthusiastically greet the day. This doesn’t mean your teaching style and approach has to suffer. By practicing what you teach to your yoga students, you can enthusiastically engage your students even if you are having a rough day. These tips can help you bring your best self to all your classes, whether the day seems bright and sunny or bleary and gray.

Arrive Early

Many yoga teachers recommend that their students arrive a few minutes early to calm down and get settled in for a beneficial yoga session. So, why wouldn’t you do the same? Arriving early for your class means you have time to unwind and de-stress before you need to be in teaching mode. Taking a few moments for yourself can help you forget the other worries of the day so you can focus solely on your practice and your students. Even just a few moments spent in quiet meditation or simply setting up the classroom can get you into teaching mode. Take the time to remember why you chose to be a yoga teacher and go through all the reasons you love the practice. Warming up and doing a few of your favorite poses could also help you get physically and mentally geared up for a great session. Your students will notice and appreciate the fact that you can be completely present during class.

Connect with Students

You may have a yoga class all planned out in your mind: you know what you want to say, what poses you will do, and what sequence the class will follow. However, don’t be afraid to change your class based on the vibe you get from your students. Connect with the students and read their body language to see what they can most benefit from. This personalization will make your class a more engaging and invigorating experience for everyone, including yourself. Instead of treating your class as a cut and dry sequence of poses, remember that each class has unique people with unique needs, and you have an opportunity in each one to help and inspire people through your teaching.

Be Humble

If you are teaching yoga, you probably have several years of experience under your belt. Remember that many of the students you teach will be brand new to the practice. You have an opportunity to introduce them to the joy of yoga through your teaching. Be humble and remember that yoga may be a new and even somewhat frightening experience for some of your students. Avoid showing off your own skill; yoga is about personal growth and empowerment, not competition. Treat your students like small seedlings that you can nurture into beautiful blossoms with your compassionate teaching.

Teaching yoga can be so much more than just a job – it is a unique experience that brings many people fulfillment and happiness. However, everyone, no matter how wonderful their job is, can get into a rut sometimes. If you feel like you need a burst of energy for your practice, try these tips before your next session. Remember that at your core, you are someone who loves yoga and wants to share it with the world. You’ll find renewed strength and enthusiasm for what you know you already love, and your students will learn more from your classes and find more joy in the practice.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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When Should A Yoga Teacher Make A Physical Adjustment?

July 14th, 2014

throat chakraBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

How a yoga teacher chooses to guide and adjust a student depends greatly upon individual style, instruction, previous knowledge, and abilities. There are no particular rules about assisting, and it tends to be a gray area when discussing yoga instruction. Knowing when to physically assist a student is crucial to their experience and it should be done with care.

There are several circumstances during the instruction of yoga when it is important to physically adjust a student during a pose. The most important being that the student is not in a safe position or when they are not correctly conducting the pose. This can lead to poor alignment, and other excessive forces that could lead to permanent injuries. However, it is important that you do not make the student think that they are not “good” at yoga or that they are not conducting the poses in the “right” way. Doing so could discourage them from coming back to your class. Everyone learns at a different rate and too much adjusting could deter them from the art of yoga.

Another valid reason for physical assists could occur when the student has excelled in a particular position, and you want to help them experience a deepening of the pose. A simple physical adjustment in this situation can help give the student more energy and awareness of their body or breath. Many of your advanced students will welcome physical adjustments, and in most cases you can notice certain cues that will tell you which student is ready for physical adjusting.

Every person’s physical space is a sacred place. With that being said, a physical adjustment is very personal. If the student is new, and you have not discussed their feelings about being physically adjusted, then it is better to utilize verbal adjusting until the subject has been addressed. For many students, knowing that they can practice yoga without being bothered with physical adjusting will provide a relaxed place for them to connect with their own bodies. For many beginners, yoga can be uncomfortable and painful if they are pushed into a position that is too difficult for them. Instead of feeling violated by a physical adjustment, it could be more of an issue of pain and might lead them to give up on yoga all together.

It is very important that you go into physical assists with a serious attitude. There cannot be any mixed emotions or crossed judgments to occur. You must take into consideration whether the physical adjustment will serve the student in the most positive way possible. Communication with the student about being physically adjusted is very important. Knowing whether or not they are comfortable with this method of teaching will make both of you feel more at ease. When you are both on the same page, then there is no room for errors or miscommunication issues.

You might find that utilizing verbal with physical assists will be more helpful for the student. When you are physically adjusting the student, say out loud what you are trying to help the student achieve. Not only will this allow them to prepare for what you are trying to teach them, but it will also help them remember the technique for next time.

When conducted skillfully and appropriately, a physical adjustment can be a very powerful way to develop a trusting relationship with your student. By providing them with a simple technique, it can open up their eyes to a new limit for their body. While verbal adjustments are more common due to the controversy over physical adjustments, there are no other types of assisting that could lead to a new realization of physical limits.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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Preventing Yoga Student Injuries Through Continuing Education

July 10th, 2014

Utthita Parsvakonasana to reduce injuriesBy Kimaya Singh

Yoga can be a great way for someone to recover from a variety of painful and debilitating injuries, such as pulled muscles, torn ligaments, and broken bones. The gentle, low-impact movements of yoga can help strengthen muscles, soothe the mind, regain full use of limbs, and reduce overall pain. However the practice, if done incorrectly, can exacerbate current injuries and even lead to new ones. It is all too easy for an inexperienced yoga practitioner to push him or herself too far or get into a pose incorrectly. As a yoga teacher, it’s important to stay up-to-date on how to prevent student injuries in the classroom. There are many continuing education options for this topic, and they can help any yoga instructor avoid having student injuries occur in their classes.

Looking Deeper

Although yoga is generally considered a gentle, competition-free activity, it can be all too easy for beginners to come into the class and try to force their bodies into the same poses as veteran students. Unfortunately, these students may be coming in with no yoga experience, limited flexibility, or little muscle strength. By forcing themselves into these positions, they can easily pull muscles or strain ligaments. As a teacher, it is up to you to address these new students when they come into your classroom. Speaking to new students privately and explaining that there is no pressure to do a pose perfectly or to the same extent that another student is reaching can prevent injuries. Make sure they understand that the flexibility will come with time, and make them aware of the dangers of trying to extend themselves past their personal limits. Ensuring that new students don’t feel any pressure to look perfect will cut down on student injuries and it will help beginners have a positive learning experience in your yoga class. Continuing education courses geared towards working with beginners can help you be prepared to deal with yoga novices in your class so you to prevent some of the more common injuries.

Class Procedure

As a yoga instructor, it is also important to monitor all of your students during the class, no matter what their experience level is. Even advanced students can get injured during certain poses. This is especially true for the more advanced poses, such as inversions and backbends. During these poses, watch students and see if anyone is struggling. If someone is unable to get into a pose or if they appear to be in pain, intervene immediately. This is an important role as a yoga instructor. You can help your students learn the correct way to get into the pose by making adjustments to their body or by offering props to make the pose easier. Yoga blocks, straps, and bolsters can be helpful tools to have to help beginning students or less flexible students safely get into a pose. Continuing education classes that teach you how to implement these tools into your class may help you feel more comfortable offering them to your students. These workshops can also help you recognize when a student is struggling or if they are in pain during a certain pose so you can offer assistance.

Remaining Current

Yoga is a wonderful practice for people from all walks of life, but without a great, knowledgeable teacher, students can become frustrated with injuries that cause joint pain, muscle strains, stiffness, and more. If you are a yoga teacher, make sure you are prepared to deal with the possibility of injury by educating yourself with continuing education workshops and courses. Learning how to prevent injury, what injuries are possible in the classroom, and how to treat yoga injuries are all-important factors of being an excellent, well-rounded yoga instructor for any type of the practice.

© Copyright 2014 –  Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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Nurturing Independence with Yoga: Tree Pose

July 9th, 2014

Vrksasana - Tree PoseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

In the United States, we have just celebrated our independence from English rule. We are a country of fierce independence. However, our society is also set-up to foster dependency on almost everything around us. The sense of dependency is so ingrained in our culture that many of us would be at a complete loss if we didn’t have clean, running water or electricity for more than a day or two. In the same way, many of us are also psychologically dependent on the diversity of electronic stimuli that is available to us at all hours of the night and day.

This “electronic entertainment” includes cell phones, tablets, televisions, computers and so on. There are endless ways that we can all distract ourselves from emotions or memories that cause anxiety or are distressing to one extent or another. A comprehensive practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises, chanting sacred mantras, and periods of meditation all help to facilitate and nurture our connection to an independent source of happiness that is not hampered by external experiences.

The “toolbox” of Yoga practices originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It is a tried and true comprehensive series of postures, breathing exercises, moral guidelines, and contemplative practices that free one of internal and external suffering. Of course, in the context of a serious illness or injury, the practices of Yoga may not be able to completely eradicate your suffering, but a regular Yoga practice will help to relieve your suffering and keep your spirits and mind in a more positive state.

* Vriksasana or Tree Pose

Tree Pose is a very effective Yoga asana for improving balance, strengthening the legs and opening the hips. Tree Pose is also a wonderful Yoga asana for helping to ground you on your own feet, while simultaneously connecting you to the heavens above. Additionally, this Yoga posture facilitates the withdrawal of the senses through pratyahara as it challenges you to have patience with yourself.

To practice Vriksasana or Tree Pose, come to Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. You may wish to practice a series of Sun Salutations to warm up your body before practicing Tree Pose. However, Tree Pose can also be practiced as a stand-alone Yoga asana. It is lovely to practice Tree Pose after grounding first in Tadasana. When you are ready, with an inhale shift your weight to your left foot and place your right foot against your calf or above your knee on the inside of your left thigh.

Do not place your foot directly on your knee. This will strain the knee joint and could cause an injury. Depending on your level of flexibility today, place your right foot flush against your upper calf or lower inner thigh of your left leg with your toes pointing toward the floor. Exhale as you settle into the pose, and with your next inhale raise your arms over your head. Press your palms together in Prayer Position. Elongate your spine and feel the ground beneath you as your hands reach towards the heavens.

Pick a gazing point or drishti on the Yoga mat or floor in front of you. Hold this point while you breath deeply and fully for three to five breaths. As you practice Tree Pose, you will notice that if your mind wanders and your gaze becomes unsteady, your stance will become unsteady as well. If this happens, simply continue to breath and refocus your gaze on a singular point on the floor or mat in front of you. As one Yoga teacher was known to say, “Trees sway. If you sway, simply refocus your gaze on a point in front of you and continue to breathe.”

If you sway so much that you fall out of the pose, simply reestablish the posture and continue to hold Vriksasana until your are ready to come out of the posture. Tree Pose offers many Yoga practitioners the opportunity to practice patience over and over again! When you are finished with your practice of Tree Pose on the right side, with an exhale release your hands and your right foot and come back to Tadasana at the front of your Yoga mat. Pause for a moment in Tadasana, and then repeat Tree Pose on the left side when you are ready.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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The Yogic Method for Dealing with Panic Attacks

July 3rd, 2014

about yoga class sequencingBy Ishrattasleem Tasleem

Research and clinical studies about Yogic therapy seem to indicate that the mind and body are connected with each other in a holistic way. In turn, yoga works to reduce suffering from mental distress, depression and anxiety, with daily practice. Everyone experiences feelings of stress and anxiety at times in his or her life. When the level of stress reaches the highest degree of tolerance, it pushes us into a state we call: “panic attacks.”

These attacks are distinguished by steadily increasing and overpowering anxiety, triggered by physical sensations, such as: Rapid heart rate, increase in palpitations of the heart, sweating, choking, chest pain, dizziness, and nausea. Anxiety amplifies the amount of fearful thoughts and unpleasant emotions we experience in an average day. Nowadays, these panic attacks can be treated easily and effectively by several alternative medicinal treatments, such as tai chi, qi gong, psychotherapy, yoga and meditation.

Within recent years, yoga therapy has been taught as a helpful alternative way to recover from panic attacks. Yoga includes a cycle of stretching and breathing techniques that help one in finding a complete sense of relaxation, balance, and stability in the body and mind.

Yogic therapy helps in regaining the strength of the body, but also focuses on the stability and poise of the mind. According to some medical researchers, yogic methods can be helpful in reducing one’s stress and anxiety levels. During the regular performance of both asana and pranayama, a great amount of constant worry can be released from the body and mind. This release of energy helps us let go of negative energy. Students practicing yoga can handle anxiety with ease and comfort with the help of yogic tools. In some cases, anxiety will be controlled permanently and constant worry may never bother you again, if yoga is performed daily with complete concentration and focus.

Yoga techniques for reducing panic attacks:

Some of the yoga exercises listed below will help bring back confidence and focus, and also help in fighting anxiety.

• Lotus Posture (Padmasana) and Easy Pose (Sukasana) are two of the most important panic- relieving positions. During such a position, a person is bound to sit cross-legged in such a way that the hands are placed above the knees, with the palms facing upwards. During this position, breathing in and breathing out should be practiced gently and continuously.

• The second most important posture is Legs-up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), which helps people going through anxiety and panic attacks. The technique gives a relaxing, gentle and rejuvenating effect. This posture is done by lying flat on your back and by keeping your legs straight up into the air with the support of a wall. The pose is to be held for one to five minutes. Concentrate on breathing in and out while performing this asana (posture). This asana is one of the most helpful postures to calm your nerves and regulate your breathing.

• Heart opening postures, such as: Fish, Camel, and Cow pose help to release anxiety and negative energy from the mind and body. Such postures help the practitioner in practicing easy breathing techniques, while stress and anxiety are purged from the core of the body.

• Relaxing asanas, like extended child pose, help in calming the body when you are under a great deal of stress. Yoga, when performed calmly, always results in providing soothing and relaxing sensation and helps you find logical solutions for your problems.

Resources:

Medical Hypotheses, Volume 78, Issue 5, Pages 571-579

C.C. Streeter, P.L. Gerbarg, R.B. Saper, D.A. Ciraulo, R.P. Brown

Breathing Training for Treating Panic Disorder: Useful Intervention or Impediment?

Behav Modif October 1, 2003 27:731-754

Respiratory Biofeedback-Assisted Therapy in Panic Disorder

Behav Modif September 1, 2001 25:584-605

Treating Anxiety in a Managed Care Setting: A Controlled Comparison of Medication Alone Versus Medication Plus Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy

Research on Social Work Practice March 1, 1999 9:188-200

“I Am a Nice Person When I Do Yoga!!!”: A Qualitative Analysis of How Yoga Affects Relationships

J Holist Nurs 2014;32:2 67-77

Mindfulness, spiritual well-being, and visual impairment: An exploratory study

British Journal of Visual Impairment 2014;32:2 108-123

The Effects of Exercise Training on Anxiety

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE 2013;0:2013 1559827613508542v1-1559827613508542

A systematic review of yoga for state anxiety: Considerations for occupational therapy / Revue systematique sur l’efficacite du yoga pour traiter l’anxiete reactionnelle : Facteurs a considerer en ergotherapie

Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 2013;80:3 150-170

Investigating the Perceived Feasibility of Integrative Medicine in a Conventional Oncology Setting: Yoga Therapy as a Treatment for Breast Cancer Survivors

Integr Cancer Ther 2013;12:2 103-112

Investigating the Perceived Feasibility of Integrative Medicine in a Conventional Oncology Setting: Yoga Therapy as a Treatment for Breast Cancer Survivors

Integr Cancer Ther 2013;12:2 103-112

Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga Among a Multiethnic Sample of Breast Cancer Patients: Effects on Quality of Life

JCO 2007;25:28 4387-4395

 

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Improving Athletic Performance with Yoga: Ardha Hanumanasana

July 1st, 2014

500 hour yoga teacher training online courseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

As we enter into the heart of the summer, many Yoga practitioners are beginning to enjoy a challenging and vigorous outdoor exercise regime. Those of us who spend a lot of time indoors during the colder winter months often participate in a variety of outdoor activities during the summertime. Depending on where you live and the availability of different outdoor activities, you may choose to go backpacking, play in a tennis league, surf, or even learn how to rock climb. You may even choose to do several of these activities over the course of the summertime, in addition to your regular Yoga practice.

The choices of outdoor activities are almost endless during the warm summer months. However, when we increase the frequency and intensity of our workouts, particularly if we begin to participate in a new sport, the risk of developing a sports-related injury also increases. Practicing Yoga asanas several times a week will help to keep your muscles and ligaments limber and strong. Yoga asanas are also a wonderful tool to keep your body’s musculature in correct alignment, which helps to reduce the risk of injuries due to incorrect physical form when you are cross-training.

* Ardha Hanumanasana or Kneeling Half Split Pose

Ardha Hanumanasana is a very accessible and effective Yoga pose for stretching out the entire back side of the legs including the hamstrings, hips, calves, and lower back. Additionally, Kneeling Half Split Pose also relieves sciatica pain, which often originates due to tightness in the lower back. Many athletic activities shorten the hamstring muscles, which puts pressure on the lower back muscles.

Running on pavement and playing tennis are two activities that can very quickly tighten your hamstring and calf muscles, particularly if you play on a hard court or run on pavement. By incorporating Ardha Hanumanasana or Kneeling Half Split Pose into your Yoga practice, you will regularly lengthen all of the muscles along the backside of your legs, including your calf, hip and hamstring muscles. In this way, your Yoga practice will help to facilitate improved athletic performance by keeping your muscles and ligaments limber and strong.

To practice Kneeling Half Split Pose, it is recommended that you warm up first with a series of Sun Salutations. This pose can be incorporated into your practice of either Sun Salutation A or B. This posture can also be practiced a stand-alone Yoga asana if you are short on time and careful not to overextend your stretch. When you are ready to practice Kneeling Half Split Pose move into Downward Facing Dog Pose, and then drop to your knees on your Yoga mat. If your knees are sensitive, you may find that placing a folded blanket on your mat makes the pose more comfortable and enjoyable.

With an inhale, extend your right leg in front of you on your Yoga mat. Keep the toes of your right foot facing towards the ceiling or sky. With your next exhale, lean forward and place your hands on your mat as far forward as you can comfortably extend today. Keep your fingers facing the front of your Yoga mat. As the tension in your legs and hips begins to release, you may find that you can extend your reach a little further. Square your hips by pulling your right hip gently back in alignment with your left hip if your right hip has crept forward a bit. Hold Ardha Hanumanasana for several full, complete breaths.

Mindfully inhale and exhale completely as you hold the posture. Keep your gaze on a steady point in front of you. If you feel any pain in the hamstrings, hip or groin muscles, ease the intensity of the pose by shortening the reach of your arms until your feel a nice stretch without pain. When you have completed your practice of Kneeling Half Split Pose on the right side, release the posture and move slowly and deliberately back into Downward Facing Dog. When you are ready, repeat Kneeling Half Split Pose on the left side, and then rest briefly in Child’s Pose before continuing on with the rest of your Yoga practice.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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Improving Athletic Performance with Yoga: Fire Log Pose

June 25th, 2014

agnistambhasana for athletic performanceBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

With the advent of the warmer weather, many Yogis and Yoginis incorporate a diversity of outdoor athletic activities into their fitness regime. Some of these activities may include rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking. Other popular summertime activities are swimming, jogging and tennis. According to sports physiologists, it is important for an athlete to cross-train because by engaging in a variety of different sporting activities, he or she will strengthens different muscles groups in the body. Additionally, by becoming involved in a competitive sport, an individual will experience a clear sense of purpose and will easily formulate a set of concrete fitness goals to strive towards.

Participating in team sports also provides an individual with enhanced social contact and engagement in one’s community. However, as we set athletic goals for implement vigorous and challenging training routines and ourselves in order to meet those goals, many Yoga practitioners may experience sports-related injuries. These injuries run the gamete from pulled hamstrings, to torn rotator cuffs and strained wrists, to name only a few! Clearly, the type of injury that a Yoga practitioner may experience when cross-training in other sports depends on which sports he or she has chosen to participate in.

All aerobic activities will improve cardiovascular health. However, many sports shorten and tighten muscles and ligament throughout the body. This is particularly true of the leg, hip and shoulder muscles and ligaments. By incorporating a regular, balanced practice of Yoga poses into your exercise program, you will be able to offset the potential risk of sports-related injuries. Practicing Yoga poses several times a week will help to keep your muscles and ligaments flexible and strong, so that you can safely and enjoyably reach your fitness goals.

Fire Log Pose: Agnistambhasana

Fire Log Pose is a very powerful and effective hip opening Yoga asana. It deeply releases tension in the hip area, as it stretches out the groin muscles. This pose also relieves stress, anxiety and tension. It is both a hip opener and a cooling seated forward bending pose. Agnistambhasana is also known as Double Pigeon because it deepens the hip stretch initiated by Pigeon Pose. This is a wonderful cooling Yoga asana to practice after you have finished the aerobic portion of your workout.

Agnistambhasana, or Fire Log Pose, is usually practiced after a series a Sun Salutations, standing poses, backbends and inversions. In other words, towards the end of a full Yoga practice. However, if you are short on time, you can also practice Fire Log Pose as a “stand alone” Yoga asana or in the context of a series of cooling seated forward bends after your workout. To practice Fire Log Pose, coming to a seated position on your Yoga mat. If your hips are tight today, you may wish to have a folded blanket or a Yoga block nearby, so that you can use a prop for additional hip support.

When you are ready to practice Agnistambhasana, take a few deep breaths, remembering to exhale completely and fully. With your next inhale, take your right foot and place it gently on top of your left knee. Stack your two lower legs on top of each other like the logs in a fire with your lower legs parallel to the front of your Yoga mat. If your knees, ankles or hips are very tight, or you experience pain or a sensation of pinching in any of these areas, place a folded blanket or bolster underneath your right hip. This will modify the intensity of the stretch in the hip and relieve pressure on the knees and ankles.

If you are still experiencing any pain in the knees, ankles or hips, modify the posture further by placing your lower right leg directly in front of your lower left leg on the mat. Place your hands one to two feet in front of you with your hands in a cupped position. With your next exhale; bend forward gently until your reach the point where you feel a nice stretch in your hips and groin muscles without pain. Hold Fire Log Pose for five to ten breaths, and then slowly release the posture and come back to Easy Seat at the front of your Yoga mat. When you are ready, repeat Fire Log Pose on the left side.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching yoga students and our selection of online yoga instructor training courses.

If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

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About The Koshas

June 24th, 2014

the koshasBy James Hall

The ancient science and art of yoga is essentially for self-realization and for developing self-reliance. To this effect Yoga Therapy focuses on 5 constituents : the Pancha-Koshas:

1. The physical body needing to be nourished and maintained on food. That is the body derived from food. Annamaya Kosha – a gross, palpable, visible and perishable* vehicle; known as the “food sheath.” Purified by yoga cleansing practices (Shatkriyas) and harmonized by yoga postures (Asanas). *Perishable due to Maya.

2. Next is a vital vibrant sheath of bio-energy that is activating of all five sheaths: Pranamaya Kosha; In Yoga this bio-energy is called Prana. Alluded to in the West as ‘free energy’ or more specifically , Adenosine Tri-Phosphate*. * If we are active physically we use an amount of ATP close to our body weight. Sheldon Saul Hendler MD Ph.D. [Oxygen Breakthrough - The natural program]. His excellent book focuses on breathing to reduce the oxygen debt, is for those with chronic fatigue, frequent infections, autoimmune disorders such as arthritis, asthma, panic attacks, anxiety and depression, and sleep disturbances.

Breathing consciously (and practicing pranayama) enables us to make the vital connections that helps us understand how oxygen debt may be contributing to fatigue. Yoga pranayama is a method of working with the active dynamic aspect of consciousness, called Prana, by way of breath control widening and lengthening the breath and through subtle breathing, ujjiyi.

It is the inner breathing of the cells that enables us to produce biological energy. Swara Yoga is the science of brain breathing. This induces a calming the mind; enables conservation and liberation of energy; and the innate ability to self-regulate and balance both sympathetic and parasympathetic behaviors (autonomic nervous system).

This is achieved by balancing Ida nadi and Pingala nadi, or mind and prana. The nadis are energy channels that conduct the breath consciousness and convey subtle sound vibrations. Paying keen attention to the flow of the breath in both nostrils, or employing Nadi Shodan Pranayama, equalizes the flow of the swara. The nadis are energy channels that conduct the breath and subtle sounds.

When Ida is flowing Manas Shakti – mental energy increases. When Pingala flows, Prana Shakti – physical energy increases. When there is equal flow of the breath in both nostrils, attention shifts to the whole brain (left and right sides) and the spinal cord that connects the brain to the body (central nervous system). When Ida and pingala are balanced the energy or Shakti flows in Sushumna; the spinal column. The spinal cord is Citrini and the energy or active shakti is called Kundalini.

Pranayama; the breathing practices in yoga corrects futile breathing, thereby alleviates anxiety (i.e. by addresses difficulties in breathing, such as oxygen toxicity and O2 deprivation). Asana and pranayama: All yoga poses and breathing exercises, practiced on a regular basis are effective in the management of anxiety and depression, and have a very positive effect on volition – Exercise overcomes depression to produce well-being.

Yoga Nidra*- or deep relaxation -those methods that have been around since time immemorial, enables withdrawal from the outside world; heightens awareness as well as conserves vital Energy. *Paramahansa Satyananda method of nyasa.

3. Manomaya Kosha refers to the intellectual mind – a perennial source of emotions and desires associated with the will, thoughts and counter thoughts, concerned with cognitive processing through ‘organs of knowledge’; ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose collectively called the gyanendriya.

Concentration (dharana) is on the subtle senses (tanmatra): sound, touch, sight, taste and smell…concentration can be on a mantra, the breath, a candle flame, or a symbol…or simply observing the appearance and disappearance of thoughts (mindfulness)… the inner practices of Raja Yoga help control the mind, along with the physiological balancing and organic effects of Hatha Yoga.

Moral and ethical values. Yama: peacefulness, truth, honesty, sense control and non-possessiveness are observed. Niyama are the disciplines: cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, self-awareness and ‘letting go’ or self-surrender (Ishwarapranidanani).

4. Vigyanamaya Kosha refers to intuition and higher knowledge; that includes the ‘higher mind’ concerned with discernment, reasoning and reflection. The ‘unbiased observer’ or silent witness. Antar Mouna meditation is a technique for developing detachment. {which requires some effort to develop} helpful for managing obsessive states and excessive mental energy and can be practiced anywhere and at any time. The art of being consciously present.

5. Anandamaya Kosha means inner joyfulness; with the removal of obstacles and obstructions through meditation the inner light dawns. The approach is not symptomatic but goes to the root of the individual’s psychological and physiological being. The purpose is not to cure a particular disease but to bring about self-harmony at a very deep level and to experience deep joy (Ananda). To this effect the 8 limbs of yoga are practiced daily. This is called Ashtanga which are clarified in the Sutras of the sage Patanjali (approx 300-400 BC).

Broadly speaking Hatha Yoga primarily caters and cares for the first two Koshas described above and Raja yoga for the remaining three, both with the same aim, namely self-realization, and for which purification and fortification of the five Koshas is extremely helpful. Ayurvedic medicine, which is complementary, focuses on the disease-proneness and constitution of the individual and is more of a treatment in the realm of natural medicine, while yoga is a way of taking care of ourselves.

Yoga Therapy is an ingenious and useful by product of the ancient Yoga Shastra but it should be noted that any health outcomes are an indirect effect of yoga practice. Yoga enjoins balanced healthy diet, benevolence, kindly actions, regular practice and a positive approach to learning (and unlearning) by working with the 5 constituents or Kosha, as discussed above.

For the purpose of self-realization Yoga means union with the individual consciousness and the supreme Consciousness. Yoga Therapy it is not about treatment but an altogether scientific and rational, commonsense way for self-care of the mind-body complex – maintaining good condition of body and taking care of the mind; that is the mind as an instrument of consciousness. The secondary meaning of yoga is to ‘yoke’ the mind and gain mastery of the body.

When the body-mind complex is in a balanced state something wonderful happens. Consciousnesses is self-illuminating. Its very nature is to shine – and when the windows of the mind are opened, that auspicious Light gives light to the intellect and the Buddhi (awareness). Some upon recognition of the inner spiritual light say; “I am that Supreme Light of Lights”. Others pray, or chant Gayatri: “May that Light guide our meditation.”

Hari Om Tat Sat

James Hall is a:

Aura 500 CYT

Independent Yoga Therapist

Registered Nurse

Reiki Level III Practitioner

He lives in Adelaide, South Australia and is on the SA committee of a Yoga Australia.

He is passionate about bridging the gap between yoga and healthcare, with a particular interest in Auto Immune Diseases.

He can be contacted on littleeagle1234@hotmail.com

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About Preventing Yoga Injuries

June 22nd, 2014

preventing  student injuries

By Junaid Ghouri

Yoga is a holistic practice that has been around for thousands of years. There are many of us who have given up of the spiritual side of the yoga exercise program, and have used its methods to embrace many physical, emotional, and mental advantages. You will notice that there are ways in which you’ll be able to use the stretches and strength building exercises for you to improve upon your self-image.

You may be able to reduce body fat, increase your flexibility, and additionally build muscles. Yoga can train your body and mind with respiration techniques that can prepare you for exercises in other activities. It additionally helps minimize and stop injuries; as a result, yoga permits you to discover your physical limitations. Practicing yoga postures (asanas) with the wrong approach will cause you to sustain injuries and disrupt your exercise regime. Asanas were created with an aim to supply strength, flexibility, and relaxation to the entire body.

However, if the postures are performed incorrectly practiced with excessive amount of force, or there is a lack of proper technique, the body may be injured. As a result, you could need rest from yoga practice, or in some cases, you might need medical attention. The body is most ordinarily injured due to incorrect alignment, pre-existing injury, or repetitive motion. This commonly affects the wrists, knees, hips, and shoulders in the form of sprains. Teachers must emphasize the importance of avoiding, forced twisting and straining during practice sessions.

Here are some suggestions teachers can make students aware of and you’ll be able to educate your students about injury prevention in the process:

• Yoga includes a sophisticated set of practices that ought to be practiced under the supervision of a competent teacher. Attempting yoga postures on your own could result in improper technique ensuing into injuries. Make certain to search out a qualified teacher before you start practicing

• Developing student physical awareness: Many students (especial beginners) are typically unaware of their physical limits and range of motion. To prevent injuries, make sure the beginners’ are smaller in order to able to keep an in-depth eye on all students.

• Avoid overexerting yourself. Remember, yoga is some thing that you will learn and develop over an extended amount of your time. Enable enough time for the body to develop the desired flexibility and strength before attempting advanced yoga postures.

• Continuously bear in mind to warm up before your yoga session. Never skip a warm up session. Warming up is of utmost importance because it is an injury prevention program for the body.

• Use props – Props are very important in preventing injuries. The unfortunate issue is that several students do not use them. You ought to additionally make sure that you utilize the props yourself. Once you try this, your students will presumably feel comfortable once they use them and this reduces the probabilities of students injuring themselves. When teaching, you ought not label entirely different poses as basic, intermediate, or advanced. Once you label poses, you are sure to have several injuries. Massive numbers of student are aiming at reaching the advanced levels quickly, which can create a mindset of competitiveness and result in injuries. As a tutor, you ought to clearly justify the importance of precaution and do not expect your students to discard their egos no matter how many times you tell them that yoga is not a contest.

• Separation of the sacral-iliac ligament joint and lower back ligaments are among the common injuries in yoga. The injury can happen by attempting a forward fold the cause with straight legs and forcing. By merely bending your knees you can decrease the force and the potential for injury. Students with pre-existing medical conditions related to the sacral-iliac ligament joint and lower back ligaments should approach twisting and bending with extreme caution.

Conclusion:

These are the measures that you simply ought to take in order to minimize injuries in the growing field of yoga. Even when taking the required precautions, you could possibly encounter an injury, while practicing. In such case, don’t ignore the symptoms of rising pain in any part of your body and in some cases you may have to seek medical help. Resume your yoga session solely based upon your doctor’s recommendation.

References:

Understanding and Preventing Yoga Injuries

Loren M. Fishman, MD, 1 Ellen Saltonstall, RYT, 2 Susan Genis, RYT, Esq.

1.Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons 2. New York, New York

International Journal of Yoga

 

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