By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500 The importance of warm-ups, before asana practice, cannot be overstated. The number one reason why we should teach warm-ups is to reduce the chances of student injury. It is amazing to listen to educated people, who believe that experienced students and teachers, do not have to warm up. This [...]
As they stand in Tree Pose, remind them to gaze at a steady point several feet in front of them. By holding a steady drishti, or gazing point, they will be more able to balance in Vrikshasana. The primary work in Tree Pose is to continue to elongate the spine by rooting down into the earth, in order to expand more fully towards the sky. In addition, by gently pressing the foot against the standing leg, your students will feel the hip-opening effect of this balancing Yoga posture.
Yin Yoga postures are usually held for three to five minutes, instead of the traditional three to five breaths during a more fast-paced Ashtanga flow. For instance, Malasana, or Yogic Squat, can be practiced in a stress-relieving, Yin-style by asking your students to place their hands in a clasped position at the base of their skull, as they allow the gentle pull of gravity to elongate the delicate muscles in the back of the neck.
As the simple gift of ease and spaciousness increases with each inhalation and exhalation during their practice of this flowing version of Extend Child’s Pose, you can gently invite your students to release any negative emotions, thinking patterns or beliefs that may be holding them back in their lives. In this way, their Yoga practice will begin to mirror the release of the brilliantly colored fall leaves as they drift to the soft earth below. When you offer your students Yoga classes that are informed by the rich wisdom of the seasons, they will quite naturally align and be supported by the rhythms of the natural world around them.
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed How important is it to teach your students about setting an intention? Teaching Yoga to new students can be both enormously satisfying and intimidating. At first, you may feel overwhelmed at trying to introduce the entire system of the physical postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to a group of new [...]
How do we balance this tricky dynamic of being instructors and being students while we take classes? One strategy is to let our minds slip in and out of each mindset as it naturally might during any given class. For example, you could be working on responding to an instructor’s verbal or physical cue (working on your own growth as a practitioner). A few minutes later, you could take note of an image from the instructor that you would love to adapt for use in your own classes (working on yourself as an instructor). If you find yourself tending to be in student brain or instructor brain significantly more often than another, you could mindfully work towards trying to bring that into greater balance.
Clearly, a balanced practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and contemplative techniques lends itself quite easily to improving one’s physical capabilities and mental outlook on life. By weaving some of the timeless wisdom of Yoga into your classes, you will further support your students in applying the wisdom of the ancient scriptures to their practice and to their lives off the mat. Furthermore, if you teach your Yoga classes in a disciplined manner, with a higher goal in mind, your students will pick up on how you approach your own professional role as their teacher, and they will quite naturally apply the same dedication to their own practice.
If you decide to offer your Yoga students a minute or two of a relaxing aromatherapy neck and shoulder massage during their practice of Shavasana, remember to approach your students gently before massaging their neck and shoulders. This will ensure that you do not scare them and cause their muscles to contract! By integrating a moment or two of a blissful neck and shoulder massage with essential oils, after guiding your students through a balanced Yoga practice, you will leave your students feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to continue enjoying the languid and balmy days of summer.
Additionally, a state of courage and the tenacity to follow through on one’s goals is spoken of quite highly in many different spiritual texts from a variety of religious traditions. A challenging Yoga class that is accessible to most of your students will provide a framework within which to cultivate a sense of courage, accomplishment and diligence. Challenging standing postures and arm balancing poses often come to mind immediately as poses that easily lend themselves to the development of courage and tenacity.
So practicing Yoga postures that foster courage has a long and illustrious background! The noble quality of courage is highly regarded in Indian culture and in many of the myths and stories that have been told in a variety of cultures throughout the ages. Another example of the high regard for the development of courage is the Native American practice of sending a young adolescent on a vision quest. During this traditional four day time period, the young person fasts and spends four entire days and nights alone in a specified sacred circle of only fifteen feet or so, usually on a mountaintop.