“Take a Second Time Around” in Yoga Instruction and Practice

April 17th, 2015

about yoga instruction for teachersBy Kathryn Boland

In a prior article I described how my father took me to a great little shop/art gallery down a windy and dusty road, and how that led me to reflect on the advantages of going “off the beaten bath” – exploring the unconventional for new knowledge, skill development, and enjoyable experiences. My father said something else while we were in that “arty” little store that led me to reflect on another general theme. He said something to the effect of (I paraphrase) “There’s so much to see, it’s almost overwhelming – but if you take a second time around the whole store, you’ll see totally new and cool stuff.”

Yoga instruction can similarly feel overwhelming, with so much sensory input from multiple sources – some internal (within our bodies), and others external (within our environments). This can be true for beginners, new to such a myriad of sensations, as well as advanced practitioners challenging themselves with complex postures and pranayama exercises. The sixth of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs, dharana, refers to cultivating focus and perceptual awareness. We can put that concept into action, in both yoga practice and life, by focusing on one consideration at a time. We can then explore other aspects, and ultimately put it all together to build informative experience. Following that general process can help us to beneficially make sense of all of that complex information.

Stepping outside of yoga specifically can help to put this in helpful context; empirical, accepted science tells us that the human organism can only take in so much information – be it visual, kinesthetic, et cetera – at once. This is simply evolutionary, as human beings wouldn’t have survived to become who we are today if we were too distracted by every sight and sound to follow a lead on a viable food source, or take note of threatening skies to move elsewhere before an ensuing storm. Not to mention, life would indeed be overwhelming and over-stimulating if we naturally took note of every sound, smell, and image in our environments.

Each yoga practice situation is its own unique environment, with sensory information to offer for practitioners’ enhanced holistic health (in body, mind, and spirit). Yet, there is only so much of that which any given individual can beneficially perceive at one time. As yoga practitioners, one approach to meeting this complex dynamic is to key into the maximum amount of beneficial information we can at one point – discovering what that limit is and gently pushing it until it expands. At other points, we can constructively rest from such hyper-awareness by letting what sensation might come simply come to us (Savasana being a great point in standard practice in which to do that, for instance). This is balancing of sensory information by actively engaging with it sometimes, at other times letting sensation come, as it will. In so doing we can balance yin and yang energieswork and rest. As instructors, we can guide our students to practice that balance with all of our standard tools – imagery, carefully crafted verbal instruction, physical cueing, prop use, et cetera. We can also simply, and perhaps more subtly, lead by good example.

Another way to make the most of the sensory information we might receive in practice, given the difference between all there is to perceive and what we can usefully absorb at one point, is to pick a specific focus and be present with it at that moment. The next time, we can pick another focus. Ideally, that process will be additive – something learned and integrated the first time and the next thing added on to it on subsequent occasions. For instance, while executing Triangle Posture (Trikonasana), one could focus on maximally opening the chest (through purposeful torso placement in relation to the hips, and in the shoulders to the ribs) in order to have fuller breath in the posture.

Later on in that practice, or on the next day (and so on, some other time in the future), one could take Trikonasana again – yet this time focus on relaxing and flattening the feet, and connecting through them to the legs to establish a firmer (yet balanced and eased) base in the posture. The practitioner might not be aware of it, but – as an instructor and practitioner – I predict that he or she would have a slightly more open chest when approaching the posture with a different specific focus the second time. After that trial, I foresee that – just from that time of pointed and mindful focus – he or she would also have a firmer, yet more eased base of support in the posture, in addition to a more open chest (and deeper breath as a result). Some individuals do need multiple reinforcements of certain positive changes, them not occurring that quickly and easily. The above method is a good start to establishing those changes as permanent, however.

To me, such a process is along the lines of what my father advised me to do in that little shop/gallery; with more to experience than one can take in at one time, and more than would even be useful to, pick one focus for now and then “take a second time around”. True, we can also strive to take in and balance the most possible sensory information in our yoga practices (before becoming unproductively overwhelmed) at one time. We can alternate that with other times of letting ourselves feel, as we will, as a good overall balance of work and rest. Another option between those extremes is to fully attend, but only to so much at one point – with the awareness and acceptance that there is a next time to specifically explore something else. I believe we, as practitioners and instructors, are blessed with the fact that yoga is a journey that we can travel on all our lives. There is thankfully always another time to discover something new and amazing.

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Addressing Fear in a Yoga Class: Modifications

April 16th, 2015

yoga instructor training onlineBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

One definition of fear is to be anxious about an unpleasant or painful event that you feel is likely to happen in the future. For instance, if you are pursuing your Yoga teacher certification, you may be afraid that you are going to fail your final anatomy exam because you have not spent an ample amount of time studying. This fear may be completely reasonable and understandable, or this fear may be largely exaggerated if you have spent an adequate amount of time preparing for the anatomy final, but you are prone to anxiety.

In the same way, any number of your Yoga students may be afraid of what may befall them during class if they are struggling with any number of physical or emotional challenges. These challenges may be as simple and straightforward as tight hamstrings, due to running on pavement or playing tennis without stretching. On the other hand, some students’ physical and emotional challenges may be as serious as a traumatic brain injury, invasive cancer diagnosis or clinical depression.

Some students may even feel fear when they step onto the mat because they are afraid they will not be able to meet their own high expectations of themselves or the perceived high expectations of their teacher or the class at large. For instance, in some Yoga teacher training classes, there is a strong emphasis put on being able to drop back into Upward Facing Bow from a standing position. However, dropping back into this challenging backbend may not be appropriate for all teacher trainees, during every class.

If you are a committed Yoga practitioner, you know that your physical and emotional state of being fluctuates daily, and sometimes even over the course of the day. For example, in the morning your may be more stiff and your body might take more time to warm-up before you begin to practice challenging standing postures and arm balances. Similarly, the physical nuances and emotional needs of your students will fluctuate daily, if not hourly. Keying into the needs of your students is one of the hallmarks of a truly great Yoga teacher.

However, being attuned to your Yoga students’ individual needs and keeping your class moving at a decent pace, is another undertaking all together. This is where the conscious integration of modifications helps to create a cohesive class, which is safe, challenging and accessible to the vast majority of your students. Weaving modification instructions into the flow of your Yoga class will allow each individual student to tailor your class to his or her particular needs, on any given day.

There are many ways to modify the classical Yoga postures that are practiced in most classes. For example, using a block to support a student in his or her practice of Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose, will help that student to practice the posture in correct alignment, while keeping up with the pace and the intention of the class. Similarly, instructing your students who have tight hips to place a folded blanket under each knee while they practice Reclining Goddess Pose will help them to relax more fully in this restorative posture without putting undue strain on their knees.

One key to weaving modified Yoga postures into your class is to be very familiar with the postures and with a variety of modifications for the poses that you are teaching. Another key to seamlessly leading a group of students through a safe and effective multi-level class that offers them a variety of modifications is to have plenty of props available. There is nothing quite as disruptive to a class then when a number of students start rummaging around the back of the studio for blocks, bolsters or belts during a flowing sequence of postures!

In order to avoid this disruption to your Yoga class, it is advisable to announce at the beginning of class which props are recommended. It is also a good idea to let your students know how many of each prop they should place near their mat. For instance, if you know that a handful of your students have difficulty maintaining the correct alignment of their spine in Triangle Pose, placing a block next to their mat will facilitate the easy use of a prop during their practice of this fundamental Yoga posture.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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My Light in the Technological “Dark Ages”

April 15th, 2015

yoga lifestyle todayBy Kathryn Boland

There is one aspect of my life that makes me quite unusual amongst other “Gen-Xers” (members of my young-adult, 20-something generation); the most technologically advanced thing I own and commonly use is a “flip” phone. While others my age sitting next to me on public transportation feverishly text or check e-mail (or bounce back and forth between those tasks), I read or write – or stare off into space while lost in my thoughts.

Granted, it can be quite difficult to balance the demands of graduate school (at Lesley University), other professional tasks, and personal matters with the limited access to computers I can manage to obtain – an hour here, ten minutes there at a computer on the Lesley campus (and only on certain days of the week, given my hour-long commute there from my home). My distance from the latest technologies has had immeasurable benefits for my life, however, both personally and professionally. Those advantages are a large part of the reasoning for pratyahara, or sense withdrawal, one of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs. As I disconnected from an over-stimulating amount of sensory information from screens, the reduced amount that my senses then took in began to mean more for my overall subjective well-being. As the saying goes, less can be more.

I lost most of my devices (several laptops and “smart” phones, and an iPod shuffle a while back) due to technological failures. The breakdowns seemed catastrophic at the time. Those adversities were new opportunities, however, to fill the void of those broken devices with more presence, more authentic engagement in my here-and-now. I reflected a bit on this process for myself after reading one particularly poignant section in Marion Woodman’s The Pregnant Virgin Woodman.

Given my process of disconnecting from technology’s grip on my life, I heard my heart’s truths in the author’s statement that “[a] machine, however intricate, has no soul, nor does it move with the rhythms of instinct” (15).  I can now more clearly understand that “[a] computer may be able to vomit out the facts of my existence, but it cannot….compute the depth and breadth of the human soul” (15). Some things are concrete – the number of unread messages in my e-mail inbox, the price of a book I would like to purchase – but those things are not all of life. While our technologies have granted society many incredible advancements, we are still the same humans with the same biological drives and needs – for relational connections, for the pleasures of our many senses, for engagements with our surrounding environments.

When those concrete things come to dominate experience, as began to happen to me with the pressures of higher education increasingly filling my life, life can lose the luster that makes it most worth living. I feel fortunate to have undergone this process of having to learn the hard way, so to speak, the value of remaining connected to life’s truest elements rather than constant absorption with screens and keypads. Now, rather than perfectly clean out my email I read a book that interests and educates me, or journal to beneficially process professional or personal matters. Or, I take a minute for an unexpected chat with a friendly fellow commuter or to simply close my eyes and check in with body sensations such as level of muscle tension and breath. All of that results in less anxiety and clearer thinking than I used to experience.

I see others in the grips of the technological addictions that were beginning to take hold of my life – not only 20 and 30 somethings (per the cultural cliché), yet also those younger and older. A part of me – perhaps that part that is now mindfully observing my process of technological disconnection – wants to help (at least some of) them see how they are becoming “cut off….from their own instincts” (15), as Woodman describes can happen. While giving them the full autonomy of choice over how they spend their time, I want to help them return to presence through the body and greater use of its connection to the mind.

I believe that yoga has much to offer in this regard, such as in leading individuals to more fully experience their bodies in space – beyond crouching over their phones and iPads, texting or surfing the internet.  In any case, in whatever work I may come to engage in as a yoga instructor, becoming more present through my process of technological disconnecting will most likely help me to be more engaged with and helpful for whomever I come to serve. And along the way, I am happy to share my story of moving from attention to screens to that of my larger world – if it might be contextually appropriate and helpful for a fellow yoga practitioner or student. I believe that all yoga instructors can similarly set a positive example in this area, through our practices in mindfulness and pratyahara – being as we are among those living yoga as a lifestyle.

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Addressing Fear in a Yoga Class: Pranayama

April 13th, 2015

teaching pranayama techniquesBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed. 

In an ideal world, the idea of practicing Yoga solicits feelings of calm equipoise, energy and vibrant health. However, for many people the idea of practicing Yoga in the context of a structured class can bring up feelings of apprehension and fear. There may be any number of reasons for this apprehension. Some of these reasons include being physically or emotionally fragile. This sense of being physically fragile can come from being injured or in the process of healing from a surgical procedure.

For instance, imagine that you have recently undergone a total hip replacement surgery and this is your first time “back on the mat” in a group context. You would most likely feel very cautious about your body’s ability to safely practice most of the Yoga postures, which are routinely performed in multi-level classes. You may also have concerns about how you should modify the postures, in order to protect a vulnerable hip joint. In addition, if you are used to being quite physically agile, asking your teacher for help and slowing down during the practice may cause further anxiety, impatience, and even anger.

In the same way, if a Yoga student is feeling very emotionally fragile while he or she is traversing a difficult life event, such as a divorce or death of a loved one, engaging in vigorous Yoga postures and/or pranayama exercises may feel overwhelming. If you are a Yoga teacher, you are aware of how many of the postures and breathing exercises of Yoga can release deeply held muscular and emotional tension. When painful and difficult emotional experiences are brought to the surface through the practice of the asanas and purifying pranayama techniques, a student may be unsure how to cope with the ensuing tears or waves of anxiety.

These are only a few of the examples of fragile physical or emotional states that can make just stepping onto the mat an act of great courage for a student! As a Yoga teacher, addressing feelings of fear in your class in an accepting and straightforward manner will help your students to relax, when they realize that their anxious feelings are understood and acknowledged. There is any number of ways to address and ameliorate anxiety and fear during a Yoga class. The very first step is to set a tone of acceptance, by addressing your students at the beginning of class and letting them know that it is fine to drop into Child’s Pose if they need to rest during class.

It is also important to let your students know that you are available to assist them or offer them appropriate suggestions for modifications of classical Yoga postures; if they feel that they need to move at an individual pace. The practice of Yoga can be tailored to each individual student with the strategic use of props and modified postures. By embodying a compassionate and accepting attitude, your students will be more likely to quietly come to you and let you know if they are currently struggling with physical or emotional health issues, which need some special accommodations during the practice.

* Relaxation Breath

It is not uncommon for Yoga students to experience waves of anxiety during the practice of Shavasana or meditation. We are all so used to running in many different directions that when we slow down, anxious feelings may rise to the surface quite quickly. A very simple and effective way for calming down an overactive nervous system and quelling anxiety is to lead your students through the practice of Relaxation Breath. Essentially, this breath is comprised of elongating the exhalation in at least a 2-1 ratio to the inhalation.

The practice of Relaxation Breath can be seamlessly woven into the final portion of your Yoga class during Shavasana. It is also quite nice to practice this pranayama exercise during the beginning of a seated meditation session. If one of your students is experiencing a great deal of anxiety or emotional upset during class, you may want to suggest that he or she sit quietly in Easy Seat and practice Relaxation Breath for a period of 5 minutes or so. This simple pranayama exercise, in addition to being acknowledged and taken care, may be all a student needs to release unwanted feelings of anxiety and fear.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of distance learning yoga instructor certification courses.

Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.

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Addressing Fear in a Yoga Class: Awareness

April 11th, 2015

addressing fear in a yoga classBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

If you practice Yoga regularly, when you think of doing Yoga you probably envision practicing in a subtly lite studio, which is adorned with some well-placed statues and graced with bouquets of fresh flowers. This image may resonate with accuracy and provoke a sense of relaxed equipoise. On the other hand, if you are new to the practice of Yoga, or if you are an experienced practitioner but you are contending with some physical challenges or emotional issues, walking into the same subtly lite studio may provoke feelings of intimidation, anxiety, dread, and even fear in some cases.

As a Yoga instructor, one of the primary goals of teaching a challenging, invigorating and simultaneously relaxing Yoga class is to create a safe space for the practice to unfold naturally for all of your students. Some of your students may already have a strong practice established and be very comfortable performing a whole range of asanas and pranayama exercises in the context of a structured class. Other students may be brand new to the practice, or they may be apprehensive of practicing in a group context for any number of reasons.

Some of the reasons that a student may feel apprehension, anxiety or fear at the thought of practicing Yoga postures in a group context may entail issues around body image, dexterity, physical injuries or a fragile emotional state. If you are a regular Yoga practitioner or teacher, you are aware of the deeply transformative effect of a regular practice of asanas and pranayama exercises. A great deal of the transformative effect of Yoga is that it exposes our underlying physical and emotional weaknesses and, in doing so, gives us the opportunity to address our weaknesses and transform them into areas of strength.

However, if you are teaching a student who is new to the practice of Yoga, the student may feel quite intimidated about trying to flow through a series of Sun Salutations and standing postures. This feeling of intimidation may be especially poignant if he or she is unfamiliar with the postures. Additionally, if a new student is overweight and has a limited amount of strength and flexibility, even attempting to perform beginning Yoga postures can feel demoralizing and provoke anxiety.

The first step to addressing fear in a Yoga class is to become aware of and tuned into any of your students who may need additional support to be comfortable in class. Through the process of meeting and talking with each one of your students, you will be able initially pinpoint the students who are prone to injury and/or who may need to practice modified and supported postures, until they are ready to engage in more traditional series of postures. Maintaining a sense of humor and warmth is also important when your are teaching Yoga. This levity and embracing compassion will help to put your “special consideration” students at ease.

Do be aware that it may not only be your new Yoga students who need some extra care and attention. At times, even experienced students may need some extra guidance and a watchful eye during class if they are recovering from an injury or a surgical procedure. In fact, it may be particularly hard for an experienced student to ask you for specialized modifications or props, in order to practice familiar Yoga postures safely, while they are recovering from an injury or surgery. As we all flow through the ups and downs of our lives, many of us often feel emotionally and physically fragile and vulnerable during the more challenging times in our lives.

The same is true of your Yoga students, of course! An excellent way to foster communication with your students is to have each new student fill out a health questionnaire prior to taking Yoga classes with you and to update it on a periodic basis. This will facilitate a more intimate level of knowledge of each student’s physical and mental health concerns and challenges By tuning into the ebb and flow of your students’ lives, as much as possible, you will be able to offer appropriate guidance and modifications, when needed, in order to truly facilitate your students’ growth, healing and over all well-being.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of distance learning yoga instructor certification courses.

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Balancing Teaching Methods with Wisdom: Teaching Teenagers

April 5th, 2015

about teaching yoga to teensBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching Yoga can be uplifting, inspiring and challenging. In many ways, this is never truer than when you are teaching a group of teenagers how to focus, concentrate and complete a series of challenging Yoga postures! Teenagers, by their very nature, often vacillate between period of intense focus and periods of lethargy, apathy and oppositional behavior. This is particularly true when a teenager is struggling with any number of difficult issues, which frequently produce defiant and uncooperative behavior patterns.

Some of these issues may include depression, ADHD, eating issues, self-esteem issues, and difficult family dynamics. As you get to know your teenage students, you may even find that some of the teenagers in your Yoga class are being bullied at school, experiencing homelessness, drug addiction or even violent behavior, to name only a few of the many potential difficult situations teenagers face. Although we may fondly remember our own teenage years as mostly idyllic, many of us faced many serious issues such as these, which have lost their intensity over time.

However, the issues facing today’s teenagers are just as serious as the one’s you may have faced in the past, and may even feel more overwhelming to them, because of the increased academic demands on their time and energy, and the ever-increasing pace of our highly technological society that demands that teenagers today be constantly socially connected. This increase in the demand to always be socially available increases the stress level of many of today’s teenagers, which makes it even more difficult for them to stay on track and focus well on one task at a time.

There are many benefits to engaging in a well-rounded and comprehensive practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises and contemplative techniques, such as writing in a journal. This is especially true when you are teaching Yoga to teenagers. Not only will they benefit physically from a regular practice of Yoga postures, they will also benefit emotionally from practicing soothing breathing techniques and contemplative exercises. For instance, there are a number of non-profit organizations that offer Yoga classes to teenage inmates. In some of these programs, teaching mindful awareness and relaxing breathing techniques has helped a number of the teenagers literally turn their lives around.

Additionally, if you incorporate some time during a Yoga class for them to journal and express their feelings, you will be supporting them in developing understanding and empathy for themselves and for each other. This sense of understanding, compassion and empathy can cut the impetus to bully at its roots. The process of writing out their thoughts or feelings in a journal can be as simple as taking ten minutes or so at the beginning or end of your Yoga class to do some writing, while leaving time at the end of the writing session for students to share their process with the other students in the class.

Do keep in mind that it is important to modify your teaching methods with your own wisdom as a Yoga teacher, so that you can adeptly and fluidly alter the sequence of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and contemplative techniques that you have chosen to teach to your students, on a moment-to-moment basis. For example, if your teenage students come into class frazzled and exhausted from a week of mid-term exams, you may want to begin the Yoga class with some more vigorous standing postures and sequences, and then guide your students through a slower, rejuvenating sequence of seated forward folds, which are very calming and grounding.

By teaching a Yoga class to your teenage students that is a balance between the more active sequences, such as the Sun Salutations, followed by a series of restorative seated forward folds, you will help them to discharge anxious energy and bring their nervous systems back to a state of balance. In addition, by responding to your students’ level of energy and to the group dynamics that are unfolding during class, you will also be offering them the opportunity to integrate their experience on the mat with their experience in the world and with each other. In this way, they will learn how to put the uplifting and sublime teachings of Yoga into practice in their own lives.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of reasonably-priced hatha yoga instructor certification programs.

Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.

 Related Post

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Teaching Yoga As a Profession – Consultants and Mentors

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Blood Sugar, Diabetes and Yoga

March 31st, 2015

yoga for diabetesBy Seema Deshpande

Practising yoga consistently can be extremely rewarding. Yoga can be practised in various forms such as pranayama or breathing exercises, meditation, and yogasanas or yoga postures. Furthermore, yoga can be practised by anyone – young or elderly, athlete or a normal person—yoga can be suitably modified to match everyone’s need. While yoga can improve your physical and mental fitness significantly, research studies are being conducted to study the effectiveness of yoga in preventing and/or treating various physical and psychological disorders. In this research article, we will see whether yoga can lower blood sugar level in diabetic people.

Let us first understand what is diabetes. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, diabetes is a disease affecting “the way the body uses food for energy and growth”. The food we eat is broken down into glucose, and our body needs the hormone insulin to use glucose. NCCIH categorises diabetes in three different types – type 1, type 2, and gestational. In the first type, people hardly produce any insulin, and not many people suffer from this type of diabetes. In type 2, people do not properly respond to insulin produced by their bodies. This is the most common type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women, which normally goes away after child birth. However, risk of mothers developing diabetes in later stages of life remains.

Since type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, we will see what research says about impact of yoga on controlling this type of diabetes. A research article published in 2007 in the Journal of The Association of Physicians in India states that yoga has a positive impact on lowering blood glucose levels. In this research, 108 patients with type 2 diabetes were studied for a period of six months. The article states that patients showed a significant improvement with a considerable fall in the fasting and post-prandial blood sugar levels. Additionally, the research study stated that was a reduction in drug requirement, and a significant decrease in the body fat and increase in the lean body mass. In the study, patients practised various asanas such as Dhanurasana, Ardhamatsayendrasana, Halasana, Vajrasana, Yogamudra, Shalabasana, Naukasana, and Bhujangasana. The research article states that Dhanurasana and Ardhamastsayendrasana were the effective asanas, whereas Yogamudra and Shalabasana worsened the diabetic status. Participants practised yoga postures for 45 minutes every day during the research period. Relaxation practices such as Shavasana and Makrasana were also included.

In another research article published in 2011 in US-based The Journal of Clinical and Applied Research and Education, Diabetes Care, the research study concluded that “yoga can be used as an effective therapy in reducing oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes”. It further stated that yoga along with standard care helps in reducing body-mass index and improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients.

As seen above, some studies have started to reveal positive impact of yoga on controlling or reducing blood sugar level in type 2 diabetic patients. In addition, there are research studies which suggest that yoga can be used as an effective means to prevent diabetes. We recommend that you include yoga in your day-to-day lives and benefit the most from it. However, if you are diabetic or you suffer from any other physical or psychological disorder, be sure to seek medical advice first before deciding on practising yoga. Proceed with practising yoga if and only if your physician permits. Additionally, practise yoga only under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.

References:

NCCIH: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/diabetes/supplements

Tuomilehto, Jaakko, et al. “Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance.” New England Journal of Medicine 344.18 (2001): 1343-1350.

Sahay, B. K. “Role of yoga in diabetes.” JAPI 55 (2007): 121-126.

Hegde, Shreelaxmi V., et al. “Effect of 3-Month Yoga on Oxidative Stress in Type 2 Diabetes With or Without Complications A controlled clinical trial.”Diabetes care 34.10 (2011): 2208-2210.

© Copyright 2015 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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The Place of Developmental Movement Patterns in Yoga – Part 2

March 11th, 2015

yoga teacher developmentPart II – Moving Onwards and Upwards!

By Kathryn Boland

In the first part of this series on developmental movement patterns, I discussed how babies develop through a general sequence of accomplishing particular movement abilities – and how yoga practice has natural connections to, and usages of, those patterns. Such an analysis can ultimately lead us instructors and practitioners to frame our own practices, as well as those we guide our students in, in ways that they more closely align with those patterns. Doing so can enable us to reach closer to our potentials for whole-person health. With descriptions of the first four patterns described in the previous post, I now move on to describe the last four.

With the ability to sense and support their movements through their spines (head/tail connection, the fourth connection previously detailed), babies discover that they can understand and feel their bodies in two separate parts – 5) upper and lower. Movement possibilities greatly expand at that point – because now they can stabilize in their pelvis and legs while reaching with their arms, for instance, or hold in their bellies (lying on their backs) while kicking their legs.

Asana practice similarly relies upon a “team” effort, so to speak, of our upper and lower halves to accomplish movement and posture goals. For instance, in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) the pelvis and legs stabilize one’s stance while the torso rotates upwards, and the shoulder opens. Those actions together allow for strengthening and stretching of the legs and pelvis, as well as a luxurious upper-body stretch and greater space for breath. Awareness of those separate roles of our bodies’ “halves” can lead us to use them to the fullest in our practices.

Next, little ones gain awareness of how they can also divide their bodies into two other “halves” – a movement pattern known as 6) body half. This pattern entails moving one part of the body (arms, legs, and torso structures in between) together while the other stabilizes in stillness. Yet another whole new world of movement and experiential possibilities then opens up, because babies now have the physical ability to crawl. With that they realize that they do not always need Mom, Dad, Grandma, or another caregiver to travel longer distances to where they wish or need to be.

The emergent need to chase babies, to keep them away from areas and objects that could harm them, can create lots of strain and stress on caretakers – yet so much new learning and excitement for little ones! Yoga practitioners can also find many new possibilities through engaging their senses of each side of the body separately, such as the dynamic interplay of torso muscles in a satisfying and breath-enhancing side-stretch. Other ways we can find stability through this body-half awareness include keying into the separate roles of the “working” and “balancing” legs in balances such as Dancer Pose.

Next babies open up a whole new world of movement and discovery through locomotion, with developing the physical ability necessary to take those first steps. This is the skill of 7) cross-laterality (sometimes also referred to as “contra”-laterality). In this pattern one can simultaneously move an arm and leg in opposition – the right arm with the left leg, and vice-versa, for instance. Often this type of movement has one or both parts of the body crossing its “midline” (the central axis, which one could understand as a straight line running up and down the body from the mid-point of the belly-button).

That is exactly what we do in twisting postures – which are indispensably beneficial for the conditions of the spine, organs, and in numerous other ways. Awareness of cross-lateral opposition can additionally draw one’s attention to the separate actions of individual body parts within one particular pose, and therein enhance its benefits. For instance, in Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana) the most effective twist – with the most assured stable base in the lower body, comes from stabilizing the hips while rotating the torso. Keeping in mind cross-laterality can lead us to more keenly and clearly execute those necessary actions in those separate parts.

With the expanding abilities to walk, then to run (and jump and so on – the possibilities opening up daily!), young ones naturally develop stronger abilities to balance. This is the last developmental movement pattern, the 8) vestibular sense. To achieve this, the body and brain work in complex ways through multiple systems (muscular to that of the inner-ear canals) in order for individuals to balance themselves in space – whether standing with two feet on the ground, or with only one of them grounded.

The vestibular sense therefore has evident implications for the quality of those poses we might first think of as tricky balance postures – such as Tree Posture and Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana). It also determines those poses we know of as potentially restive and grounding as Mountain Posture, however. Regardless, according to this sequential developmental movement theory we develop this sense of balance as a last component of our overall and life-long movement “repertoire”, so to speak. We continue to improve upon it, however, or conversely lose some of our abilities within it, as the years go on. Yoga practice has strong potential to foster life-long growth within, and reduced losses of, our physical handling of this movement pattern. The same holds true for all of the patterns that set a foundation for it, as were previously described.

But wait, there’s even more (as the old saying goes) – stay tuned to learn more about how the foundation of these eight movement patterns can determine the quality of whole-person health. For instance, gaps within the typical sequence thus far described can cause social, emotional, and mental difficulties throughout the entire life-span. Look out for more explanation of such instances in the next (third) part of this series, as well as how we yoga instructors can help our students to “fill in” the gaps. Through that they can reclaim the levels of well-being that our bodies, and through that our whole persons, are meant to enjoy.

© Copyright 2015 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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About Yoga Training for Self-Image

March 7th, 2015

about yoga trainingBy Kimaya Singh

In today’s world, the media has built a predetermined notion about what is healthy and perfect for a person to look and be like in order to achieve an approved status in society. People have been fighting against these standards for years, only to be shunned as under-valued and worse. Yoga training is one of the few options today that can help an individual fight against the negativity that comes from society and the media about body image and self-worth.

There are many reasons that someone would want to start to practice yoga. The benefits of regularly attending yoga classes or practicing on your own are vast. From better flexibility and becoming more fit, to having a better sense of inner peace and self-acceptance, you are sure to find that yoga will give you a healthier lifestyle option. Yoga helps train the mind to quiet down and look inside yourself rather than paying attention to what is going on around you.

Negative body image is one of the many damaging aspects today that people face when it comes to self-worth. When you have a negative outlook about yourself, many things will suffer including your self-esteem. Depression and anxiety are directly related to having an overabundance of negative thoughts on a regular basis. If you find that negativity is continuously creeping into your mind through outside sources you may want to search out ways to change how you can filter those thoughts, such as yoga training.

Yoga is all accepting for people of all ages and fitness levels. No matter if you have never attended a yoga class before or are not in good physical shape, yoga can benefit you. Once you sign up for a class you will notice that it is full of individuals just like yourself, who want to increase their quality of life by becoming healthy and happy with who they are rather than by losing weight or becoming the perfect person like society dictates.

By practicing yoga on a regular basis, it is known to help people become happier with their bodies and accepting of the skin they are in. Inner peace and self-reflection are key parts to practicing yoga and they help those individuals realize the goodness that radiates inside of them. By become more self-aware of the positivity that comes from your inner-self, you can become better at blocking out the negative surroundings and filter only what helps you to become a more balanced person.

Yoga training is all about cultivating personal energy. By practicing yoga on a regular basis you will be more in tune with your own personal energy and how it affects everything in your daily life. If you are able to change your thought patterns from negative to positive by taking the time to reflect and filter out the needless chatter, you will find your lifestyle could change according to your mood and attitude. Learning how to calm the mind of endless thoughts is just one of the many positive aspects that yoga holds.

If you find yourself with a low self-image or damaged self-esteem, you may want to try yoga. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you will find by attending yoga classes on a regular basis. Meeting new friends with similar interests, becoming more fit and learning how to balance your inner peace are all great outcomes for someone looking to improve their quality of life. There are many more people just like you who suffer from the same self-image issues and deal with negativity every day. Yoga helps you filter through all of that and come away with a better sense of self-worth.

© Copyright 2015 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of inexpensive hatha yoga instructor training intensives.

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Chair Yoga Promotes Student Safety: Inclusion

March 4th, 2015

yoga teacher courseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Many of the same physical and emotional benefits of a regular practice of postures and breathing exercises can also be found in the practice of Chair Yoga. If you are Yoga student who is living with a chronic health condition that necessitates the use of props in order to safely practice asanas, by participating in chair classes, you will gain many of the benefits of a traditional class, while still maintaining your safety. If you are teacher, offering Chair Yoga classes to those students who need to practice a modified set of postures with the support of a chair will greatly increase your marketability and adaptability in a variety of different teaching environments.

There are many different populations of students who can benefit enormously from a practice of Chair Yoga. Some of the specialized groups of students who benefit from a supported practice include older students, students who are recovering from head injuries, students who are healing from surgical procedures, and students who may be living with long-term, chronic diseases that affect their balance, coordination and their ability to stand for extended periods of time. Additionally, larger students may need the assistance of a chair when they first begin practicing, in order to allow them to safely engage in a Yoga practice in a way that works for their own bodies.

One of the primary underlying intentions of offering Chair Yoga classes, is to include groups of students who may not otherwise be able to engage in a regular practice safely or comfortably. If you are an avid Yoga practitioner, you are well aware of how beneficial a regular practice of Yoga is for you, both physically and emotionally. By offering chair classes to specialized groups of students, who would not otherwise be able to engage in a traditional practice of postures, you also offer them the opportunity to experience the same benefits. The inclusion of non-traditional Yoga students into the practice, through the use of chairs and other props, will help to further expand the life-enhancing and energizing effects of Yoga, both on individual students and on the community at large.

Imagine for a moment that you have recently sustained a serious concussion from a car accident. Usually, you would go to your local Yoga studio several times a week to take a multi-level class. However, because of the difficulty you are having with balance and coordination since your accident, you are reticent to take your usual class. In this situation, if your teacher was adept at offering modified Chair Yoga postures, you would most likely feel much more comfortable attending your usual class. Furthermore, by maintaining a regular practice of asanas and pranayama exercises during the healing process, you will facilitate a greater sense of well-being, health and the continuing inclusion into the Yoga community. The same sense of safety and inclusion is, of course, just as beneficial for other groups of special consideration students, who made need to engage in a modified practice for a wide variety of reasons.

If you are Yoga teacher, by developing your ability to teach Chair Yoga classes you also make yourself more marketable. By enhancing your teaching skills with the knowledge of how to lead a group of special consideration students through a safe and effective modified chair class, you will be able to offer classes to a variety of non-traditional students in a wide diversity of environments, including hospitals, senior centers and specialized cancer recovery programs. In a complementary manner, if you are teaching a multi-level class and you find that a number of students would benefit substantially by using a chair during the practice of some of the more challenging postures, by sensitively and appropriately offering modified Chair Yoga poses to those students, you will improve their overall safety level and enjoyment of your Yoga classes.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

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