The Effect of Yoga on Spinal Health

February 28th, 2015

improving spinal healthBy Seema Deshpande

Practising yoga consistently under the guidance of a trained and a qualified teacher can be extremely rewarding. Yoga has the potential to purify your mind, to keep you physically fit, and to equip you with energy to keep you going in this crazy, fast-paced world. Yoga in the form of yogasanas or yoga postures and pranayama or yogic breathing techniques can not only help you stay fit, but researchers have started to examine their therapeutic impact on various medical conditions as well. In fact, research studies have started to show that pranayama can have positive impact on anxiety and stress-related disorders. In this article, we will specifically focus on whether yoga, through its various forms, can help improve one’s spinal health.

Spinal-related issues, including back and low-back pain, have been a cause of many peoples’ worry. One cannot undermine the importance of having a healthy spine. While spinal injuries can be serious in nature, they also hinder human beings from performing their most routine and basic day-to-day activities with ease. While there are yoga exercises that are aimed at healing spinal injuries or improving one’s spinal health in general, in this article, we will attempt to examine what research studies talk about the therapeutic aspects of yoga in improving one’s spinal health.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, states that research studies have showcased that yoga can be beneficial for people with low-back pain. In 2009, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), again a part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, funded research activities to examine the impact of Iyengar yoga, a form of Hatha yoga, on chronic low-back pain. Studies revealed that yoga reduced functional disability, depression, as well as pain in people (research participants) suffering from chronic low-back pain.

Further, research studies funded by NCCAM in 2011 revealed that yoga, primarily Viniyoga, was effective in decreasing the symptoms of chronic low back pain, and that it was a better alternative to using a self-care book designed for low-back pain patients. However, the research studies also revealed that yoga was not as effective as the conventional stretching exercises, which yielded more long-lasting benefits.

Research published in 2013 in The Clinical Journal of Pain claimed that there was a strong evidence which suggested that yoga therapy was effective on people (research participants) with chronic low-back pain. The research study stated that yoga therapy demonstrated both short-term as well as long-term effectiveness. The research studied the impact of Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, and some yoga postures not following any particular style on patients suffering from chronic lower back pain.

Research studies have started to suggest that various forms of yoga can have a positive impact on reducing back or low-back pain, and improving spinal health in general. It may be a good idea to start practising yoga to improve not just your spinal health, but your overall mental and physical health. We recommend that you begin with the basics of yoga before proceeding to advanced levels. The most crucial point to state here is that be it basic or advanced yoga, ensure to practise yoga only under the guidance of a well-qualified yoga teacher. And if you are a patient with back pain, tailbone trauma, or any other form of spinal injury, be sure to discuss with your medical practitioner before you choose to practice yoga. Also, if your medical practitioner permits you to take up yoga as additional therapy, ensure that you discuss with your yoga teacher in detail about your symptoms and health issues you are facing.

References:

NCCIH: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/yoga-science

NCCIH: https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/112409.htm

Cramer, Holger, et al. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain.” The Clinical journal of pain 29.5 (2013): 450-460.

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Wellman RD, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med.2011;171(22):2019-2026. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.524.

© Copyright 2015 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Research About Pranayama for Anxiety

February 24th, 2015

about pranayamaBy Seema Deshpande

Yoga can be practised in various forms – asanas or postures, meditation, positive affirmations, and pranayama or breathing exercises. All forms of yoga have countless advantages and can benefit human beings to the fullest if they practise any of these forms sincerely and consistently. In this article, we will specifically learn more about the benefits of practising pranayama, the safest and relatively easier forms of yoga. We will specifically examine if pranayama can help ease anxiety in people, which is the root cause of many psychological illnesses, and some physical disorders too. Additionally, anxiety and stress can affect anbody – be it students preparing for their exams, adults trying to deal with difficult situations at their workplace, or senior citizens who are worried about their children, and so on.

Let’s now study what pranayama can do to reduce or lessen anxiety and stress in people. The Sanskrit word pranayama means controlling breath, and breath is controlled using various techniques and breathing exercises. First of all, unlike other forms of exercises, pranayama or breathing exercises can be performed by anybody regardless of their age or other physical condition.

Research published in 2005 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggested that yogic breathing is one of the unique ways of treating psychological and stress-related disorders. The study particularly focussed on the impact of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, which includes cyclical yogic breathing patterns, on various stress-related disorders. This research study revealed that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga has the potential to lessen anxiety and stress-related disorders in people. Another research paper published in 2013 in the International Journal of Yoga talks about the very many benefits of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga. In this research study, secondary research was conducted on the primary research that was already done to examine the impact of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga in treating various clinical conditions. The research paper claimed that there is substantial evidence to suggest that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, a form of pranayama, can be beneficial in treating anxiety and various stress-related disorders.

Likewise, studies published in 2010 in the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology studied the impact of Anuloma Viloma, another pranayama technique, on 30 Indian male senior citizens. This research study revealed that Anuloma-Viloma pranayama had a positive impact on the participants of research. The participants were trained in the Anuloma-Viloma technique for seven days in a yoga camp. Thereafter, the participants were requested to regularly practise the pranayama technique for three months. Their anxiety levels were measured (using the Sinha Anxiety Scale and Beck Depression Inventory) before and after practising pranayama. Results showed that their anxiety and depression levels had gone down after practising the Anuloma-Viloma pranayama regularly for three months.

While there are studies that reveal the potential benefits of practising pranayama or breathing techniques to tackle anxiety-related issues, some research studies have not been able to arrive at any concrete conclusion. Some other research studies claim that pranayama could be good for patients suffering from anxiety arising out of physical medical conditions, but it may or may not be very beneficial for those suffering from general and prolonged anxiety-related disorders.

While research suggests that practising pranayama has several benefits in general, we recommend that you seek a medical opinion (if you are suffering from any physical or psychological condition) before you choose to practice pranayama or any other form of yoga. While practising pranayama is safe and can help improve the quality of your life, we recommend that you practise it under trained and qualified yoga teachers.

References:

Brown, Richard P., and Patricia L. Gerbarg. “Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: part I-neurophysiologic model.” Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 11.1 (2005): 189-201.

Gupta, Pranay Kumar, et al. “Anuloma-Viloma pranayama and anxiety and depression among the aged.” Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology 36.1 (2010): 159-164.

Sengupta, Pallav. “Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art Review.” International Journal of Preventive Medicine 3.7 (2012): 444–458. Print.

Kirkwood, Graham, et al. “Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 39.12 (2005): 884-891.

NCCAM: https://nccih.nih.gov/

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Is it Possible to Lower Blood Pressure with Yoga?

February 18th, 2015

blood pressureBy Seema Deshpande

Practising yoga, either in the form of yoga postures, pranayama or meditation, has innumerable benefits. Consistent practice of yoga can help one stay fit both physically and emotionally. In addition, yoga has the potential to improve one’s spiritual quotient as well. In comparison to other forms of exercises, such as strenuous gym exercises, practising safe yoga has relatively lower risks, and can be tailored to suit the needs of various people – young or old, healthy or physically weak, normal or athletes. Yoga can be performed by anybody and everybody.

Now-a-days, doctors are attempting to adopt yoga as a means of alternative and complementary medicine. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a part of the US Health and Human Sciences Department, recognises yoga as a form of complementary and alternative medicine in the mind-body medicine category. To examine yoga from this angle, let’s consider a condition known as hypertension or high blood pressure. While high blood pressure in itself is a serious disorder, the condition if not treated and controlled, can result in more dangerous and grave health issues such as cardiovascular problems, failure of the kidneys, and so on. Let’s examine if yoga can lower the blood pressure in people suffering from high blood pressure.

According to NCCAM, some research studies reveal that meditation and yoga can have a positive impact in reducing blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension. Likewise, yoga practitioners believe that activities such as pranayama or breathing exercises and meditation can significantly help in reducing anxiety and panic disorders in people. Reducing stress levels and anxiety can largely benefit people with high blood pressure.

Further, research studies noted in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology revealed that yoga practices significantly benefitted those suffering from hypertension, and helped in bringing down their blood pressure levels. Research was conducted on people weighing anywhere between 53 to 81 kilograms, within the age range of 35 to 65 years. The results of the research, in fact, revealed that among the patients on whom the experiment was conducted, patients who participated in yoga practices fared better than those who were just administered anti-hypertensive drugs. The patients who participated in yoga practices practised yoga for one hour each in the mornings and evenings, six days a week. Yoga practices involved exercises such as Shavasana, Pavanamuktasana, Vajrasana, Yoga mudra, Tadasana, Om recitation, and meditation.

While research studies are starting to reveal that yoga can have a favourable impact on lowering high blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension, results of some research studies reveal that yoga or relaxation techniques may or may not help to lower the blood pressure. The NCCAM suggests that yoga and relaxation techniques can be incorporated in a comprehensive and a holistic plan to reduce and prevent high blood pressure.

While it may be a good idea to practise yoga to prevent and / or reduce high blood pressure, patients must not unilaterally take decisions, and most importantly, consult with their physicians before practising yoga or specific yoga postures. People suffering from hypertension should not, on their own, substitute yoga in place of anti-hypertensive drugs. Before taking any decision or action, patients must discuss with their physicians, and if and only if the physicians give a go ahead, patients must practise yoga only under the guidance of trained and qualified teachers.

References:

NCCAM: https://nccih.nih.gov/

Murugesan, R., N. Govindarajulu, and T. K. Bera. “Effect of selected yogic practices on the management of hypertension.” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 44.2 (2000): 207-210.

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The Place of Developmental Movement Patterns in Yoga Part I – Beginnings

December 31st, 2014

how to begin yoga trainingBy Kathryn Boland

I personally love to watch babies move. They roll, reach, and giggle at accomplishing what might seem to us like small goals. Sometimes they fall, struggle to get to where they want to be, and cry for a caregiver’s help. They are learning their bodies, ways to solve problems, how others react to their reactions, and what it is like for them to experience all of that in body and mind. All of those elements are the beginnings of the achievements, challenges, and inner/outer experiences that we all encounter throughout the lifespan. While the natures of those encounters differ for each individual, and notable exceptions do exist, there is a generalized sequential pattern of movement milestones that individuals achieve in the early years of life. Dance/movement therapy and other somatic disciplines rely upon this universal pattern to guide individuals to optimal holistic health. While yoga instructors and practitioners already (seemingly naturally) connect with this developmental somatic knowledge, we can even further utilize it in how we practice and guide others in practice.

First, babies enter the world with 1) breath – therein evidently the first most essential ingredient for life. It is no coincidence that most practitioners, and most instructors guide their students to, begin asana practice by cueing into the quality of breath. The goal in this phase is to reach the type of breath that will support the individual in the upcoming task. We equally need this preparation through breath in various types of asana practice, as babies rapidly learning and growing, and in diverse life experiences.

Secondly, little ones become aware of the world of sensations that is available to them by engaging with their environments through 2) touch. Babies learn much about themselves, others, and inanimate objects through pulling, stroking, chewing (engaging with touch through their lips), et cetera. In yoga, hands-on assists (from instructors, yet sometimes even from ourselves) and limb-on-limb points of contact (such as in binds) can guide us to make healthful adjustments to our postures. In sometimes less definable ways, those practice elements can engage our bodies’ intuitive senses – in ways that words never will – to feel more truly alive and whole within our practices.

Branching out more into their worlds, infants then begin to balance their movements in the realm of 3) core-distal. They have developed enough muscular strength and integration to reach their limbs out from their small bodies when it might help them to meet their needs – yet also to bring their body parts closer to their bodies’ centers when that is more satisfying and/or necessary. Asana practice plays with a similar balance between engagement of the core, necessary for balance and optimal alignment – and sending energy out into the distal (peripheral) parts of our bodies, which is imperative for achieving the most possible flexibility, other fitness markers, and simply sense of aliveness.

Then babies begin to sense a connection between 4) head and tail. At about five months old, they can – for the first time – fully lift their heads. Through that they experience both the practicalities as well as pleasures involved with stabilizing their movements through their spines. All central aspects of yoga practice – including asana, pranayama, and meditation – rely on this relationship of the head and tailbone. In asana, the appropriate relationship of those two parts is essential for balance and safe alignment, among other important components. In pranayama, a straight and stable spine is necessary to position the lungs for optimal breath capacity. In meditation, one’s spine must stay similarly straight and stable in order to minimize physical sensation – therein allowing one to get closer to the quiet, undisturbed consciousness that the practice can offer.

There are further possibilities yet! Stay tuned to learn about the four movement patterns within this largely universal sequence that we generally develop last, and then keep most central in our experiences throughout life. Those include abilities to expand one half of the body into space while keeping the other grounded, and conversely to move “cross-laterally” – moving arms and legs in opposite and sequential fashion. Those skills have implications for nothing short of our abilities to balance and “locomote” (walking, running, skipping, etc.) throughout life. Understandings of these natural connections, and resulting movement tendencies, can lead yoga practitioners and instructors to create practices that are true to our bodies – and through that are capable of contributing to expanded overall holistic health.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Yoga School Policies for Preventing Harassment

October 25th, 2014

practicing heron poseBy Kimaya Singh

Like any workplace, yoga studios must always have policies in place for dealing with harassment problems of a sexual, verbal, or physical nature. These policies should be made available to every yoga teacher and student that participates in classes at the studio. Having these policies already written out and readily available will ensure that appropriate action is taken swiftly if a harassment issue does occur between teachers or students at the yoga studio. If a problem does arise during yoga practice, the policies in place will ensure they can be handled efficiently, quickly, and legally. Every yoga studio should have some concrete policies in place to avoid confusion and disorder when dealing with harassment situations.

Dress Code and Appropriate Attire

Since yoga is performed in fitness clothing and form-fitting attire, a dress code should be in place so that outfits are always appropriate for the classroom. This consideration is especially important for yoga studios that offer hot yoga classes. In these classes, light clothing that shows exposed skin is a must. This will keep students cool and comfortable. However, even in this situation, it is important to have an appropriate dress code. Clothing should not be too revealing, and it should be appropriate for the age group of the class. Make sure to be specific in the dress code. If your studio doesn’t allow bra tops or speedos, make this known before your students come to class. All new students should be provided with a written dress code so they can be ready for their first class. Be prepared to enforce the dress code at all times, even if that means asking a student to return home to change. Do not waiver from your dress code or exempt certain students – this will only cause confusion and resentment.

Physical Adjustments

In yoga practice, teachers may want to physically adjust their students in order to correct their body placement in a pose. However, before ever touching a student, ask if they are comfortable with it. Some students will not want to be touched. As an instructor, you need to respect the wishes of the student and find other ways to correct them if they do not wish to be touched at any time. Verbal corrections and instructor demonstrations can be alternatives to physical adjustments made in the classroom. It is also important to make sure students do not try to physically correct each other in the class, even if they are an experienced yoga practitioner. As the teacher of the class, you are the only one with the authority to perform physical corrections during the session. Allowing students to correct each other may lead to injuries, harassment complaints, and other issues.

A Quiet Environment

The yoga studio should be a place to focus solely on the practice. By ensuring the space remains quiet and contemplative, you can reduce harassment complaints. Make sure students know that they should not bring loud or disruptive devices into the studio. This means no cell phones, tablets, or MP3 players. To ensure your students remember this rule, post signs outside the studio for them to see upon entrance. If a student is being disruptive, use gentle reminders to ensure the studio stays a comforting and meditative space.

Even with the best preventative measures, harassment can occur anywhere. Having policies in place from the get go will ensure that any problems can be resolved as quickly as possible, without damage or trauma caused to the student, teacher, or studio. Whether you are a brand new teacher or an established instructor, take the time to set up and review your harassment policies on a regular basis in order to ensure you are prepared for every potential issue.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Yoga for Sleep: Restorative Viparita Karani

October 17th, 2014

about restorative yogaBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

At the present time, there is just a touch of fall coolness in the air in the Northeastern United States. As summer subtly wanes into early fall, the humidity level is dropping and the trees are beginning to reveal a hint of the brilliant fall foliage to come. I have always loved the fall. It is one of my favorite times of the year in the Northeast. The colors of the leaves when they are at their peak are simply breathtaking, and the swirling energy of the season is always invigorating and filled with promise.

Every year, the fall season sparkles with the crisp energy of hope and enthusiasm. This often translates into a new school year, training program or continuing education course of study for many of us. As the long, warm days of summer begin to shorten, many Yoga students and Yoga teachers find themselves rushing to fit into their busy schedules a variety of wonderful summer activities before the days shorten and the temperatures drop to a point where some of these activities, such as swimming or surfing, are no longer possible. At least not without a very thick wetsuit!

The combination of seeking to fully enjoy the final weeks of summer, in addition to added academic and professional goals and responsibilities, often generates an underlying feeling of anxiety. Unfortunately, the busyness of a full schedule can increase anxiety levels to a point where you may find it difficult to sleep. If this is the case for you, practicing some soothing, restorative Yoga poses will help your body and mind to calm down, which will allow you to rest in a place of quietude. Resting in a place of peace and quietude will support you to sleep more deeply and restoratively.

* Viparita Karani or Legs Up the Wall Pose

Viparita Karani is also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose. This is a simple and accessible Yoga inversion that helps to calm frayed nerves, quiet your mind and replenish your vital life force energy. Viparita Karani is usually practiced toward the end of a Yoga class or session. It is generally one of the finishing postures in a sequence of Yoga poses that is practiced just prior to Shavasana.

Some of the benefits of practicing Viparita Karani for five to fifteen minutes are: improving blood flow throughout the entire body, restoring tired legs and feet, alleviating headaches, easing tension in the lower back, calming anxiety, relieving insomnia, and stretching out the front of the torso, the back of the neck and the hamstring muscles. To practice Legs Up in the Wall Pose in a restorative fashion, you will need a folded blanket, an eye pillow or small towel and a weighted sandbag for your feet. You may also wish to place an additional blanket over your torso for a fuller sense of being nurtured and to stay warm, of course.

When you are ready to practice Legs Up the Wall Pose, place your Yoga mat perpendicular to a free wall in your home or Yoga studio. Place any props you are using on one side of your Yoga mat. Lie down on your side on the Yoga mat with your buttocks touching the wall. With an inhale; gently roll yourself onto your back as you raise your legs up the wall. Extend your legs fully and keep your feet slightly flexed.

If you are using a folded blanket, place it underneath your hips for added support. Place the other blanket snugly over your torso and rest the sandbag on your feet.

When you have all of the Yoga props positioned properly, place the eye pillow over your eyes and extend your arms out to your sides at chest height with your palms facing up in a gesture of release and openness. Sink into the floor or earth beneath you and breathe fully and deeply. Hold this posture for five to fifteen minutes, and then remove the props, roll to your right side and gently push your self up to Easy Seat. Pause for a few breaths to feel the blanket of peace and quietude enveloping you that your practice of this restorative Yoga pose has generated before moving into Shavasana.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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What Should Yoga Teachers Know About Accepting Pregnant Students?

October 15th, 2014

yoga training for pregnancyBy Kimaya Singh

As a yoga teacher, you are going to accept many students, who are all going to be of different weights, heights, body frames, levels of flexibility, and more. Typically, you don’t have to worry too much about the average student you teach because most can practice the techniques, but when dealing with pregnant women, you should consider changing up your class.

There is no reason why a pregnant woman cannot have a great time in yoga, but things will need to change. Pregnant students should be in a prenatal class with a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Here are tips that you can use to make the prenatal class enjoyable for everyone.

The first thing to do is to make sure you provide space for the baby. Depending on how far along the pregnancy is, the baby is going to be larger and accommodations need to be made for the baby and the space it takes up. This is why you should avoid teaching any yoga poses to your pregnant students that compress the belly. If you can’t avoid them, modify them. You should not have your pregnant students on their bellies, especially in the second and third trimester. Compressing twists should also be avoided.

Another thing to make sure your pregnant students don’t do is overstretching. While the hormone relaxin increases flexibility, helping prepare the body for birth, that doesn’t mean that pregnant women should try and stretch to the limit. Ligaments are more relaxed, but by over-stretching, women can cause lifelong joint and pelvic problems, or even pulled ligaments. Have your pregnant students focus more on increasing their strength and stability, rather than trying to stretch as far as they can. Avoid deepening assists with your pregnant students.

If your student is at the end of her first trimester, and the beginning of her second trimester, the placenta is beginning to attach to the uterine wall. As a result, you want to avoid any inverted or jumping movements at this point. If your experienced students do want to do any inverting, they should practice mild variations, such as Downward Facing Dog and only for 30 seconds or less. Some women will resist any advice that they consider to be pampering, but pregnancy is the first time in our lives, when we have to consider every risk we take. Some women will always put their children at risk, but a wise mother will be mindful of her baby well before birth.

The center of gravity shifts for a woman who is pregnant, down to the lower back. As a result, pain in that area can be a common problem for women who are pregnant. As a teacher, you can help with that by ensuring that their lower back is where you are focusing on. Tailbone-centric exercises are an excellent way to strengthen that area and help a student relieve the pain. Encourage your pregnant students to practice exercises that strengthen the tailbone, and that should help them relive the problem of back pain.

Some yoga teachers use kumbhaka, which is breath retention when doing yoga, but this should be avoided if you are teaching pregnant students. Pregnant students should breathe slowly and evenly. Alternate nostril breathing can be a substitute for women who are pregnant.

For some people, lying on the back is not going to be comfortable. For pregnant women, you should avoid having them on their backs altogether. Some women find it to be welcome relief to learn modified postures instead of lying in Shavasana. Yoga can be a great way to keep the body healthy during pregnancy, but it is important that your students never push themselves too far with their poses.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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What Should Yoga Teachers Know About Students With Heart Problems?

October 13th, 2014

heart care with yogaBy Faye Martins

Yoga is good for you, and we all know that. As a yoga teacher, you have the ability to help people deal with a lot of health problems, and heart problems are no different. According to Dr. Suzie Bertisch, a medical instructor at Harvard, the benefits of yoga for the heart are quite immense. In addition to making the body healthy, it helps to improve the symptoms of heart failure, ease palpitations, enhance the rehabilitation of the heart and reduce blood pressure.

Now, if you have someone in your class with heart problems, you need to take special considerations so that you can help them get healthy, while also not pushing their heart too much.

There are several yoga poses that should be avoided if a student has health problems.

First of all, poses with long-held inversions should be avoided, as well as poses that involve handstands. Any long-held pose that has the arm over the head should be avoided and anything that involves holding breath, or having intense breathing, must be avoided at all costs.

Some poses that should be avoided are:

  1. Extended triangle pose
  2. Low lunge
  3. High lunch, crescent variation
  4. Feathered peacock pose
  5. Upward abdominal lock
  6. Warrior I pose
  7. The handstand
  8. Full boat pose
  9. Hero pose
  10. Supported headstand
  11. Upward bow-wheel pose

In addition, unsupported inversions should not be attempted because this will put the weight of abdominal organs on the upper-half of the body, and that can put strain on the heart.

An excellent idea is to teach your students breathing practices and meditation. Along with restorative postures, they can be very effective in healing heart conditions. These exercises help to calm the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn will help to relax the mind and the body and reduce stress on the individual.

There are styles that may benefit heart tissues and some poses that are vigorous can be done as long as the stamina is built up over time. If someone is non-active and suddenly wants to do some intense yoga positions, it is in your best interest to prevent them from doing that. Students, who have problems with heat, should avoid any sort of Bikram style yoga, or hot yoga as this can put extra strain on the heart for the student.

As a teacher, the poses that you should be having your student focus on are poses that will relax the mind and the body, while also helping to expand the chest. These are poses that use the expanded chest to allow for deep breaths, which puts more oxygen into the body and helps to improve the overall flow of blood in the body. By doing this, the student will improve their heart condition and thereby be able to do more intense yoga poses without the level of risk they would have had.

If students have a heart condition, you should encourage them to speak with their doctor first to ensure that yoga will benefit them, rather than increase their risk. You want them to be healthy, and sometimes even starting slow can aggravate the heart. By getting the okay from the doctor, you are ensured that your students are going to be okay during exercises, but you are also protecting yourself if a student were ever to have a heart attack in your class.

Yoga has been proven to help people with heart conditions, and it can help your students. As long as you keep things safe, and plan out the exercises for heart condition students, everyone will have a great time getting healthy.

© Copyright 2014 – 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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Giving Yoga Students Safe Challenges

October 12th, 2014

keeping yoga students safeBy Azahar Aguilar

As a yoga instructor, you are there to challenge your students into new spaces mentally and physically from what they may never thought possible for themselves before.  However, you are also there to keep your students safe and injury free. How to establish this balance between challenge and safety?

Types of Students to Challenge

When you kindle your students desire to push themselves, it is usually best for regulars or students you have frequent interaction with.  These practitioners you typically know better, and therefore have a stronger understanding for their needs and abilities.  In turn they feel more comfortable to inform you if they feel truly uncomfortable in a challenge.

Other times teachers can get swept up in the success of a new and eager yoga student.  If a new practitioner reaches a higher milestone in the practice, it is easy for an instructor to forget that each day is different.  Even if a student made great progress in a posture one day, the next day their body or mind may not be in the same place, which may lead to an injury in a posture they may have opened into the day before.

Teachers must leave their ego aside and continually evaluate practitioners, their comfort level and ability constantly. No matter how much you’ve worked with a student, check-ins are always necessary for safety.  A quick “how does that feel” or simply placing a block near someone with a pained face in a floor posture will act as important prevention.

Filling Advanced Classes or Programs

Other possible danger zones occur when focus shifts from the practice to the business of yoga.  Sometimes studios need a certain amount of students to run workshops or classes, and programs intended for advanced or master’s level can become too relaxed in the admission process.

A new student should never be allowed to participate in anything labeled master, no matter the level of supervision.  Keep the integrity and safety of the practice at all times.  It will be more enjoyable for the student, and you will rest easy knowing your students are safe and happy.

Education and Adjustments

Educate practitioners in your classes about what to watch for in certain advanced postures, and at the same time to check in with the ego before they attempt to push limits. This way you empower the students to check in with themselves before blindly attempting the challenge. The more your students are aware of their intention behind the desire to challenge, the better aligned their transition will be.

If you decide your intention to challenge a student is pure and ego-free, it’s important in the next step you slowly step into the student’s space to feel the energy and ask permission to push them a bit further with an adjustment or verbal cue.  Acting in the student’s personal space will also allow for a more one-on-one experience, rather than inviting the ego when the class turns it’s attention as a whole to yourself and the student.  Take your time, breathe with the student and check in before the challenge.

The Perfect Balance

Ask yourself why you want to push a student into a new space in their practice before you take action to do so.  Sit with the reasoning to feel if it comes from a place of love or of ego.

When you do challenge a student, check in with him or her to insure they feel comfortable throughout the adjustment or verbal cue.  Try and do so somewhat intimately, instead of involving the class for ego. Keep the intentions pure for growth in a specific posture or series, take your time to listen and you and your student’s practice will flourish.

© Copyright 2014 – 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.

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

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Establishing a Safe Track Record in Yoga Classes

October 11th, 2014

yoga safetyBy Azahar Aguilar

Responsibility rests on yoga instructors to look out for the student’s safety before, during and after class.  A safe teaching track record leaves you and your students confident and better able to focus on the practice.  Established studio tracking methods as well as constant communication between teachers and students will create this type of caring environment.

Prevention with Tracking Systems

In a studio, a critical step to ensure communication between many different yoga instructors begins with the new student sign up process.  There must be a place on the welcome form to list pre-existing injuries and health conditions, then loaded into a computer or folder tracking system.  When students sign in for future classes, that information easily shows and is available for the current teacher instructing.  The teacher glances over the list, and is immediately aware of injury and health information before stepping into the studio with that student.

Encourage a space to track conversations with students in your studio as well; such as when a student may approach you after class for more information on how to modify a posture for her former torn ACL.  That knowledge is important to share; a place to note that in a tracking system for other instructors to see and be aware of is extremely valuable.

Prevention with Conversation and Questions

Habits of yoga teachers should include initiating conversation with new faces as they step into the yoga studio- even a quick and direct question, “do you have any injuries or health concerns I should keep in mind to make you more comfortable?” to allow another opportunity for sharing safe yoga knowledge.

Initiate conversation after class with other students for a more natural conversation flow with regulars and faces you have seen before.  Anything you noticed in class from discomfort in the face during a knee-intense posture to asking why they began yoga can open communication. These conversations can easily be additions to add notes in the tracking system for the advantage of the next teacher to safely instruct that student.

The space exists, at the start of class as you introduce yourself, to ask for students with any injuries to raise their hands and let you know of any injuries or health concerns.  Another option for shyer students is to close their eyes and place hands over their hearts for a more anonymous approach. Create your own opportunities to find out more about your students to further establish safety in the studio.

Remind your students during or after class – to make their new instructors aware before class of pre-existing injuries or health conditions.  This also provides the opportunity for your students to make the studio a safer place for him or herself, and a more enjoyable practice for teachers to offer modifications as needed.

© Copyright 2014 – 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.

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

Related Posts

Four More Yoga Posture Safety Tips

Teaching Yoga: Student Safety is Top Priority

Teaching Yoga for Student Safety

Five Tips for Teaching Pregnant Yoga Students

 

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