Friday, December 16, 2005

Yoga Therapy

By Grata Young

The Yoga Therapy or ‘yoga-chikitsa’ refers to the treatment of diseases by means of yogic exercises which may be physical or mental or both. It is a specialised form of yogic culture. This mode of treatment has been practised in India from very ancient times. Many references to yoga have been made in the Upanishads. It was, however, Maharishi Patanjali who in about the first century B.C. gave a systematic account of the traditional yogic teaching.

The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yug’ which means "to join." It signifies union between the individual soul (jivatma) and the universal soul (parmatma). It aims at obtaining relief from pain and suffering. Basically, human evolution takes place on three different planes, namely physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga is a means of attaining perfect health by maintaining harmony and achieving optimum functioning on all three levels through complete self-control.

Yogic kriyas, asanas and pranayama constitute the physical basis ofyoga. The practice of kriyas and asanas leads to excellent circulation. It also energises and stimulates major endocrine glands of the body. Yogic exercises promote inner health and harmony, and their regular practice helps prevent and cure many common ailments. They also help eliminate tensions, be they physical, mental or emotional.

Pranayama slows down the aging process. In ordinary respiration, one breathes roughly 15 times a minute, taking in approximately 20 cubic inches of air. In pranayama the breathing rate is slowed down to once or twice a minute and the breath inhaled is deep and full, taking nearly 100 cubic inches of air.

All yogic exercises should be performed on a clean mat, a carpet or a blanket covered with a cotton sheet. Clothing should be light and loose-fitting to allow free movement of the limbs. The mind should be kept off all disturbances and tensions. Regularity and punctuality in practicising yogic exercises is essential. Generally, 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. is the ideal time for yoga practices. Yoga asanas and pranayama should be practised only after mastering the techniques with the help of a competent teacher. Asanas should always be practiced on an empty stomach.

Shavasana should be practiced for a brief period before starting the rest of the exercises as this will create the right mental condition. Asanas should be performed at a leisurely slow-motion pace, maintaining poise and balance.

Herein are described certain yogic kriyas, asanas and pranayama which have specific therapeutic values and are highly beneficial in the maintenance of health and the healing of diseases.

What to Look for When Hiring a Yoga Teacher (Part 1)

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How can you tell which Yoga teacher is the best fit for your health club, ashram, spa, or wellness studio? Does it depend on a particular diploma, style of Yoga, or who their Guru was? Let’s go over a bit of credential history and a checklist for finding the ideal Yoga teacher.

Lately, there has been a scramble amongst Yoga teachers to gain higher credentials. This is understandable because Yoga became much more of a mainstream pursuit. As Yoga became more and more popular, many experienced Yoga teachers found themselves “out of the loop.”

Some Yoga teachers, with decades of Yoga teaching experience, had no credentials, diploma, or “paper trail.” The “paper chase” was on, and when it came to credentials, a new “playing field” had been created.

With all the liability suits out there, credentials have become very important, even in Yoga. Credentials make liability insurance much easier to get. Therefore, all Yoga teachers have to jump through the new “flaming hoops.”

What Guru or Yoga Master trains the best teachers? Competence has little to do with who a Yoga teacher’s Guru - is or was. The Guru is not teaching this Yoga teacher’s class. The real question is: How will this Yoga teacher perform within your facility?

Have you ever met a graduate from an “elite” college who was an under achiever? Of course, and we have all seen over achievers from colleges, which are not as prestigious. You might also want to think about the many over achievers who never went to college.

Is there a particular style that trains Yoga teachers the best? Not really, most Yoga teacher training programs, of all styles, produce competent Yoga teachers. To credit one particular style, would take away the credibility of the rest. However, if, for example, you are looking to establish a Yoga class that is vigorous, you might seek out teachers from particularly vigorous Yoga styles.

Most Yoga teachers do a very good job of teaching, but students of any subject will always think more fondly of a particular teacher. This is human nature to make comparisons, but there are much larger issues when it comes to teaching skills and making your best selection.

The real issues, and skills, that count when hiring a Yoga teacher, are safety, compassion, communication, assisting, alignment, listening, modifications, ethics and continuing education.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

What to Look for When Hiring a Yoga Teacher (Part 2)

By Paul Jerard

Safety is a number one priority. Yoga teachers, who take risks with their students, put your business at risk. The Yoga teacher who physically abuses, his or her students, is not in the right profession.

Compassion is more than diplomacy and popularity, but these are a big help. When a Yoga teacher has compassion, the class is motivated to come back to the next Yoga class. This is a “win-win” situation for any facility, which employs compassionate Yoga instructors.

Communication is more than good cueing skills. Students learn primarily by seeing, listening, and feeling. One of these senses will be more dominant than the rest. A competent Yoga teacher will be able to reach all of these types of students.

Cueing is a skill refined by describing specifically how the body moves from one posture to the next. This is the hardest communication skill for most Yoga teachers to master.

Assisting is another communication skill, but must be applied gently, and with knowledge of alignment. Yoga teachers should ask for permission before making an assist. Otherwise, this can lead to misunderstandings. Assisting is great, but should not take over the entire class.

Demonstrating is very important. Some Yoga instructors like to walk around and cue. This is fine for part of the class, but what about the Yoga student who learns visually? This student is looking around at the Yoga teacher and everyone else.

Knowledge of alignment is not hard to learn, but some teachers get carried away with “their own demonstration” and forget about everyone in the room. If a Yoga student is showing poor posture, it should be corrected.

Listening does not seem like a “big deal,” but what about the Yoga teacher who doesn’t listen to his or her students? For example: A student has a problem in the L-5 area and the Yoga teacher decides to push the lower back a little. This could also be a lack of compassion, but some Yoga teachers do not listen to their students at all.

Modifications for beginners, older students, or those who have limited range of motion, due to skeletal compression are very important. The Yoga teacher who makes no allowance for these conditions, also puts your facility at risk. Therefore, all Yoga teachers should know how to use props and have a good grasp of body mechanics.

Lack of teacher ethics can put you out of business. We are all aware of the consequences of harassment suits, so we do not have to go too deeply on this one. The best Yoga teachers treat everyone fair and equally. Discrimination of any kind is wrong and very costly.

Continuing education is important in any field, and Yoga is no different. Yoga teachers should stay current in their knowledge of safety, modifications, anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. They should also learn how to keep Yoga classes interesting with fresh ideas. In turn, this keeps members coming back for more.

Therefore, the best selection is a Yoga teacher with a balance of all these factors. The one dimensional Yoga teacher is not an optimum fit for any organization. Within this current climate of liability suits, safety is the most important factor of all.

Lastly, ask each Yoga candidate do an audition, and do not hire him or her until you have been part of the Yoga class. Always remember, “Seeing is believing” and “talk is cheap.”

© Copyright 2005 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yoga Teachers, Prepare for the New Year’s Rush – Part 1

By Paul Jerard

The doors will fly open on January 2nd with enthusiastic mobs of Yoga students. What can you do to prepare for the busiest stretch of the year? How can you keep their interest all year long?

If there was ever a time to clean up your Yoga studio or health club, now is the time. Depending on where you live, most of your Yoga students may be out Christmas shopping right now. This season is like the “eye of a hurricane.” It is a temporary slow spell before the busiest season for Yoga and fitness.

Bear in mind, there is a “second wind” in spring, when many Yoga students are preparing for “bathing suit season.” If you need a fresh coat of paint, or the rugs need to be shampooed, take advantage of this brief respite.

You should also have a game plan for keeping Yoga students’ interest. Do not get too far off the track, but spice up your schedule with special workshops or “pilot” classes. Yoga classes are much like spice; too many flavors can ruin your dish, or in this case, your class.

Keeping student interest has always been a challenge for teachers of any subject. With fitness or Yoga, it is easy to get flocks of students during January, in North America, with a little help from cold weather, and New Year’s resolutions. The big question is: How to keep the enthusiasm going all year long?

Therefore, open a special event class to “test the waters” for student interest. There is no sense in starting another Yoga class without researching, if there is a demand. If the crowd loves the class, you will have no problem getting sign-ups. Be certain that your sign-ups make, at least, a down payment on a class package.

It is very easy for people to sign up for a yoga class and never show up again. This is the culture of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and people move on to other things - like butterflies on flowers. So, you have to capture their attention and keep it. Below are some examples of workshops and classes to try in your yoga studio.

Mommy and Me Yoga Classes: This requires special patience on the part of the Yoga teacher, and female teachers will usually fare much better, especially, if the Yoga teacher has children of her own. This is an age specific niche, but there are always new mothers and new toddlers willing to try such a class.

© Copyright 2005 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, feel free to use my blog entries (articles) – Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste, Paul

Yoga Teachers, Prepare for the New Year’s Rush – Part 2

By Paul Jerard

Let’s continue with more ideas for workshops and some specialty classes that may fit in as part of your regular class schedule. You don’t have to use all of these ideas, but you may find one, or two, that fit with your clientele and your Yoga studio.

Prenatal Yoga: Again, this is much better suited for the female Yoga instructor, but this teacher should be trained specifically in Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga. There are too many complications for the average Yoga teacher; this is for a Yoga specialist.

Modifications and contraindications change for pregnant Yoga students each trimester. Jane Mackarness has written such a course, and we carry it at our web site. This field requires much more research than the standard 200-hour training, but can lead to networking with medical professionals and hospitals.

Kids Yoga: Specialized training might be needed, but patience is a key element for Yoga instructors who want to embark on this path. I teach children myself, and a Kids Yoga class has to be fun and include games. Vinyasa will be very popular with children, since they get restless with nervous energy.

Children can learn a lot, but Yoga teachers, who spend time with them, realize they are not little adults. Sometimes, the Yoga teacher’s lesson plan will not be finished due to questions, answers, and kids just having fun being kids.

Hot Yoga: Most Hot Yoga classes originated from Bikram’s style. Be careful not to use his sequences; he has patented them. Also, the Yoga teacher who wants to pursue this path should be familiar with how she or he will perform under conditions of serious heat. Hot Yoga is good, but it is not for everyone. Hot Yoga classes are usually held at a temperature of 105 Degrees Fahrenheit.

108 Sun Salutations: Many Yoga studios and ashrams have these workshops at the beginning of a season. This is good bonding time for the more physical Yoga students within your facility. You could always go out to your favorite restaurant afterwards.

Yoga with Weights: Sherri Baptiste just released a book on this subject. Bodybuilders have practiced combining weight resistance principles, with Yoga, for years, but Sherri may be on to something here. Yoga purists aside - the contracting of muscles during weight resistance training, and the stretching of muscles when practicing Hatha Yoga, can be a harmonious relationship.

© Copyright 2005 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Instructor, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, feel free to use my blog entries (articles) – Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Thank you, Paul

Yoga Teachers, Prepare for the New Year’s Rush – Part 3

By Paul Jerard

This is the last article of this series, and by now, you should be getting some fresh ideas that will help you design a couple of new Yoga classes in your studio.

Yoga on the Ball: This has been around for awhile, but it still can add some excitement to a Yoga class. Whether you use it in a workshop, or to break up a class, the stability ball can put some life into a class.

However, not everyone will like it, especially those students who have difficulty just sitting on one of these balls. Make sure anyone who is unsteady is made aware of the hazards. It is best for some to practice near a wall, or in the corner, for stability. In this case, the wall is a secondary prop. Suzanne Deason has some interesting information on using the “Balance Ball” as a prop, in DVD format

Family Yoga: This is a great concept for most families, but it is worth noting that this type of class can attract some parents who desire to be in control of every aspect of their child’s life. This type of parent will be easily noticed from the start, when he or she corrects their son’s or daughter’s every move.

Therefore, it is best to establish who will do the cueing, assisting, and correcting. One unchecked parent can ruin the entire class. Kids acting like kids are understandable, but when parents act like kids, it is time to put your diplomatic skills to the test. That’s why it would be wise to have guidelines in place.

Partner Yoga for Singles: My wife, Marie, and I taught classes like these, and they do “break the ice.” Helping and assisting someone breaks down all the barriers. This class works better as an occasional workshop.

Laughter Yoga: The first I heard of this was when a friend of mine attended a Laughter Yoga class in Ireland. Some of the Chair Yoga classes I teach have a little humor injected into them. With all the stress people get these days, this is a stress management method that will allow Yoga students to be less serious about everyday situations.

Pet Yoga: This is a nice idea, but this is for friendly and “house trained” pets, only, unless you teach the class outside. Dog Yoga has been referred to as “Doga.” This is a great workshop concept, as long as there are no hostile pets present.

Chair Yoga: Most of these classes are held at senior centers, assisted living complexes, nursing homes, and physical rehabilitation facilities. It will be hard to establish a following at most Yoga studios, as this group is less mobile and transportation is a big issue.

© Copyright 2005 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter.
FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, feel free to use my blog entries (articles) – Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste, Paul

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yoga Teachers Wanted

I am in need of a few Yoga instructors...

Please Contact:

Tara A. LaGrange, Reiki Master & Teacher, Yoga Instructor
Ray of Hope Yoga & Reiki Studio
107 W. Court St.
Rome, NY 13440

Tel: (315) 337-YOGA

Side note by Paul: This notice just came in today.