Thursday, September 22, 2005

Give us Free Yoga

give us free yoga
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Can you find good quality Yoga classes for free? Sometimes you can, and many introductory Yoga class packages are free, or priced, so low, that they might as well be. Some students of Yoga jump, from studio to studio, like grasshoppers. These Yoga students are in search of constant introductory packages and free Yoga classes.

In response, some Yoga studios have stopped giving “bargain basement” or free Yoga class packages. Why do they stop giving bargains? It is for the sake of financial survival that a Yoga studio, ashram, wellness center, or fitness center must charge something, to stay in business. Otherwise, there will be no Yoga classes for any of us.

Having had the experience of teaching free Yoga classes, in parks, and holding down a full time job, at the same time. It was my observation that many of those students really didn't see a value in Free Yoga. It was just something to do, if they were around the park.

When the park asked me to pay a “permit fee,” for teaching free Yoga, I asked my students to give me a little help. Some of them let me know walking is free and left.

The first day I charged for Yoga, the remaining students stayed, because they saw a value in learning Yoga. Their attendance was much more consistent. Some of my first “paying” Yoga students have become successful Yoga teachers in their own right, since then.



If you are serious about something, you are willing to pay for it. Would you like a free vacation spent in a conference room, with someone trying to sell you a “land deal” or would you just like some time to relax away from home? Personally, I am not interested in a free trip to learn about buying a swamp and am willing to pay for a nice vacation.

Nothing in life is really free, when you think about it. You or the local taxpayers pay for all the water that you drink. Most people have to travel to inhale fresh quality air, at the beach, or in the mountains. Even, walking requires some fuel in the form of food and drink that is paid for by somebody.

So, what is the moral of this story? Any activity you choose to do with your discretionary income is your own business, but without the support of the local community, “mom and pop” businesses will fail.

This is true for any type of local business, from the hardware store to the men’s clothing store. Most of these businesses were swallowed up by large franchises. Therefore, if you truly love Yoga, and want to learn more, support your local Yoga teacher, or your local studio.

Otherwise, you may find limited alternatives, and large fitness franchises, dictating what kind of Yoga you practice. Somehow, practicing Yoga at McDonalds isn’t very appealing.



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Understanding the Yoga Sutras

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

At this time, there are many who practice Yoga for the physical benefits only. I'll never forget the first-time experience of teaching Yoga in a commercial health club setting.

After practicing asanas and pranayama, I mentioned that we would start a meditation session. To my surprise, two of the students stood up and left. This natural event in a health club is almost never seen in an Ashram.

What am I getting at here? Teaching all aspects of Yoga to everyone is sometimes like force-feeding a child. As teachers and interns, you should know all the benefits of Yoga. Unfortunately, your students may not want to know anything except how to "shape that body."

The philosophy and "big picture" of Yoga will have to be carried on by you and your most dedicated students. Keep in mind that each person will interpret the Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali, differently. Just like reading the Magna Carta, the Bible, and the U.S. Constitution, there is room for different interpretations.

"Sutra" means, "to thread," and there are 194 Yoga Sutras that make up the "tapestry" of Yoga. Within these verses are guidelines to self-discovery and purpose. The first four Sutras, of the first section, are said to be the foundation of the entire work.

1:1 "And now the lesson on union begins..." This could also be interpreted as, and now the instruction of Yoga begins.

1:2 "Yoga is settling thoughts of the mind into tranquility." This can be interpreted into a number of ways. Quite simply, it is the settling of mind chatter into silence, which is the basis for meditation.

1:3 "When the thoughts have settled, the subject dwells in his/her own nature, which is unlimited consciousness." This would be, when you have calmed your mind, by restraining the mind chatter, you are ready for meditation.

1:4 "Otherwise, our nature is overshadowed by mind chatter." In other words, if you do not calm your mind, you will be overtaken by the endless multitasking, which happens during the course of a normal day.

1:5 There are five types of thought and they may, or may not, cause pain.

At first, this seems vague, but Patanjali gives a much deeper explanation in the next seven Sutras. Learning to classify mind chatter will teach us to prioritize, and therefore, make the most of the present moment.

1:6 The five types of thought are: Right Knowledge, Wrong Knowledge, Imagination, Sleep, and Memory.

1:7 Right knowledge is the ability to understand ideas based on correct perception, inference, and genuine testimony.

Our understanding of events, people, and philosophy, is founded in the idea that we are receiving reliable information from outside resources. These resources in the 21st century are many, but finding the correct information is not always easy.

1:8 Wrong knowledge is misunderstanding, illusory, and false.

Talk about profound words. At this time, it is wise to thoroughly research any subject before deciding whether it is true or false.

1:9 Imagination is thought that is founded on word knowledge which has no substance.

True imagination has no substance, but imagination is very creative and can benefit mankind. It can also be very destructive in the form of weapons. Lastly, it can be self destructive in the form of worry.

1:10 Sleep is a state of mind which is full of the sense of nothingness.

Sleep is as essential as food. Many books have been written on the subject of sleep and dreams. Deciphering dreams is not an exact science and you cannot spend all your waking moments worrying about what might be.

On the other hand - sometimes dreams give us answers to problems and cannot be entirely ignored. Hopefully, this will be food for thought and you might reflect on the writings of Patanjali.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Which Type of Yoga is the Right Choice for You?

By Della Menechella

You finally made the decision to practice yoga, but which style of yoga is the best one for you? There are many types of yoga, and while they usually have common elements, their focus is often quite different. If you have not been physically active in a long time, then one of the more gentle, slower moving styles may be right for you. If you are an athlete or are very physically fit, you might want to check out some of the more strenuous forms.

The following is a list of the more common yoga classes that you will find.

Hatha Yoga: Almost every style of yoga practiced in the west is some form of Hatha Yoga. It includes asanas, breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation. Each of the individual forms of yoga has a different emphasis, but classes usually include some combination of these elements.



Ashtanga: This is a very fast paced, intense style of yoga. It follows a series of postures, which are always done in the same order and are connected with the breath. Each posture flows directly into the next one, so it is a very demanding practice. Ashtanga can be a good choice for physically fit individuals who like a challenge.

Iyengar: This type of yoga, which was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, is focused on proper body alignment. Poses are held for long periods of time and the movement from one posture to another is slower than some other styles. Props are often used to help maintain proper alignment, so Iyengar can be a good choice for those who have physical limitations. Since it focuses so much on correct body alignment, it is also a good starting point for beginners before they move into faster paced styles.

Bikram: This style of yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury and is also known as ‘hot yoga.’ Classes are held in rooms heated up to 100 degrees in order to allow your body to stretch without injury and release toxins. Practitioners move through a series of twenty-six postures, with each one being held for a period of time. This is a strenuous style and should be avoided by people with certain health conditions unless they get clearance from their medical professional.

Power Yoga: This is an intense workout that is a hybrid of Ashtanga, because the postures do not necessarily follow a particular sequence every time. Asanas move from one to another and they require a great deal of strength and stamina. Power yoga is best suited for athletic, well-conditioned individuals. It is my favorite type of yoga, and even though I am in excellent physical shape, I find it very challenging.



Kundalini: This type of yoga combines postures with specific breathing. Its purpose is to release the Kundalini energy that is housed at the base of the spine and allow it to move upward. Its ultimate goal is spiritual enlightenment.

Kripalu: This style of yoga is meditation in motion. Its goal is for the individual to gain a deeper inner awareness and to nurture a relationship with his or her body. Classes include gentle yoga postures with coordinated breathing and an emphasis on alignment. They also include an extended period of meditation and relaxation.

Integral: Created by Sri Swami Satchidananda, this type of yoga is very gentle. Classes have a greater emphasis on the meditative rather than the physical aspects of yoga. Integral Yoga is included in Dr. Dean Ornish’s program, which has been shown to reverse heart disease.

Viniyoga: This style was created by T.K.V. Desikachar and is a therapeutic approach to yoga. It focuses on breathing in conjunction with movement. Viniyoga encourages modified postures to meet an individual’s specific needs and abilities. It would be a valuable style for someone who is dealing with an injury or other physical restriction.

Once you’ve chosen a specific type of yoga, it doesn’t mean you have to stay with it forever. You can choose to focus on another style for a while or mix several different types depending on how your mind and body feel. Whichever type you choose, the most important thing is to continue doing it on a regular basis so you can enjoy the rewards that yoga brings.



Della Menechella is a yoga and fitness enthusiast who has been involved in fitness for over thirty years. Her website http://www.beauty-fitness-yoga-source.com/ is filled with practical information about how you can make yoga and fitness a positive part of your life. Visit the site and get your free meditation e-book.

Understanding the Different Types of Yoga

types of yoga
By Suzanne Morrison

Yoga is becoming a more and more popular activity in the world today. The number of places holding Yoga classes is on the increase and there is a plethora of different types of Yoga. With a choice of Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and many more it can be easy to get confused

The article will help you to understand the difference between the most popular types of Yoga so you can choose which type is right for you.

Hatha Yoga - in Sanskrit (an ancient classical language of India) “Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon”. This type of Yoga is relatively slow paced, gentle type of Yoga and is a good place to start if you are completely new to Yoga and don't know any of the asanas (poses). Like all types of Yoga, Hatha Yoga aims to unite the mind, body and spirit.



Ashtanga Yoga - this is the type of Yoga that I practice on a regular basis and means “eight limbs” in Sanskrit. It's a fast moving, intense style of Yoga practice and is based on a progressive set sequence of asanas, synchronized with the breath. Ashtanga Yoga can be quite physically demanding as you constantly move from one asana in the sequence to the next, so you'll find that it will improve your stamina as well as your flexibility and strength.

Power Yoga - this is a western interpretation of Yoga and is based on Ashtanga Yoga. A Power Yoga class may not necessarily stick to the exact sequence of poses like Ashtanga Yoga does, but it does involve practicing a series of poses without stopping and starting.

Iyengar Yoga - This type of Yoga is based on teachings by B.K.S Igengar and concentrates on the correct alignment and form of the body. Unlike Ashtanga Yoga, there is an emphasis on holding each pose for a long period of time rather than moving constantly from one pose to the next. Iyengar Yoga uses props such as blocks and straps to help align the body into the different poses.

Vinyasa Yoga - Vinyasa means breath synchronized movement and is another fast paced type of Yoga, with an emphasis on breathing. A practice typically starts with sun salutations and moves on to more intense stretching. Throughout the practice each pose is balanced with a counter pose.



Bikram Yoga - otherwise known as “Hot Yoga”, is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees, with a humidity of around 40%. Generally a sequence of 26 different poses is practiced during a Bikram Yoga class and the hot temperature helps to loosen muscles. Due to the high temperature most people sweat a lot during the class and this helps to cleanse the body of toxins.

If you're just starting out or have never done any Yoga before, I recommend trying a few different types of yoga to find out what you like best.

Remember, there's no rule that says you have to stick to one type of Yoga. I like Ashtanga Yoga best, but I also go to occasional Iyengar and Hatha Yoga classes for a bit of variety.



The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Yoga Business

about yoga business
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

The dark exists everywhere and so does the light. The dark side of human personality is in all of us. Unfortunately, Yoga teachers, priests, politicians, and police are human too.

With that said, there are many caring Yoga teachers who their spend time working with seniors, fibromyalgia groups, alzheimer patients, and many more people in need. They don't get front page posting in Yoga magazines or Time Magazine, for their efforts, but they do get gratification.

Very often, I advise Yoga teachers and Yoga studios in regard to disputes, between a Yoga teacher and the Yoga studio ownership. Each side will call the other self serving and greedy. Some Yoga teachers become a perceived threat for a variety of reasons, and find themselves out of a job.

The most common reasons for dismissal are: “Money is tight,” the Yoga teacher was networking to steal students, or an ethics violation. An ethics violation is a “no-brainer” and the Yoga studio, ashram, or health club has to take swift action. Especially, if this were in relation to a potential harassment case, where the management would find itself in, the middle of, a lawsuit.




About Business: Yes, everything in this world is business, to some degree, but ethical business practice is much different from greed. Some thriving Yoga businesses actually contribute to many charities, help the community, and spread the word of living a quality life.

Personally, quality Yoga teachers are hard to come by, and studios should prepare for “seasonal slow downs.” Below is some advice I recently gave a Yoga teacher who is very skilled, but was permanently released by an ashram, due to the “summer slow down.”

Your ability and creativity to use props is a valuable teaching skill. Very often, in lectures, I refer to knowledge of body mechanics, as a major asset, and the ability to teach every student, who walks in the door as priceless. You have the ability to teach, any Yoga student, at any level.

Although, the director of your ashram overlooked your value, you should not be discouraged, at all. There is a saying: "knowing is enough." Keep developing your skills, help people, and good karma will help you.




The best we can do is, change the world for the better - one person at a time. If we can do more - that is good too. Don't be disheartened - always look at what good can be done, in response to any given situation. Your passion for Yoga can help everyone you come into contact with.”
For those Yoga studios that worry about losing students to, a Yoga teacher, you could design a non-competition agreement, for your protection. I still do not have one at my center, but I do know what it is like to create an idea, find a teacher, advertise, and cultivate a class; only to have a teacher take the class home.

So why do I still not have a “contract” for Yoga teachers, on my staff? Did I learn from my mistake? Yes I did, but the relationship between studio ownership and independent Yoga teacher is all about trust, character improvement, and cultivating mutual respect. This is what makes it a bit different from the corporate world.

Lastly, if you are a Yoga studio or ashram owner that has been “burned,” in the past, by staff or employees, it doesn’t hurt to review your hiring process. Hiring good technical Yoga teachers is not enough, if you can’t trust them.




We did overhaul our interviewing process, preliminary requirements, and hiring practices, without implementing a non-competition agreement contract. Make sure candidates are interviewed more than once, by different people. This will “weed out” those you can trust, from those you have doubts about.


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Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How to Use Yoga DVDs and Videos to Round Out Your Practice

yoga teacher training videos
By Della Menechella

I absolutely love using yoga DVDs and yoga videos during my practices. As a matter of fact, I use one of them almost every time I do yoga. Why do I love using them so much?

They Provide Variety

I don’t know about you, but I get bored pretty easily. Doing exactly the same practice over and over again would drive me crazy. Instead of enjoying the relaxation that comes from yoga, I would probably be irritated by having to do the same program every time I practiced. To deal with my need for diversity, I have an assortment of yoga DVDs and I usually pick a different one each time I practice. I choose one that fits my mood and then get to enjoy the practice thoroughly.



Enjoy Favorite Classes

Even though I like variety, I also have some favorite programs. With yoga videos, I get to enjoy my preferred ‘classes’ as often as I like. It’s like visiting with an old friend – you know what to expect and it’s very comfortable.

They Are Time Efficient

Like you, I never seem to have enough time. Going to a yoga class adds up to two hours to my practice time when you consider driving to the center, finding a parking spot, registering, and getting my space in the class. Sometimes, I can’t fit in the extra time into my schedule, so I use a video instead.

They Are Convenient

Yoga videos are very convenient because they are always ready when you are. You might want to practice at a certain time, but there isn’t a class available. I know this is the case with me. Very often yoga classes in my area are offered at times that don’t fit my schedule. So instead of not practicing at all, I use one of my yoga tapes and I’m all set to go.



You Get to Practice With Renowned Teachers

There are many gifted teachers in yoga and it is a thrill to practice with them. One of my favorite power yoga instructors is Bryan Kest. The only problem is that his studio is in California and I live in New Jersey. It’s pretty hard to practice with an instructor who lives 3,000 miles away from you. By using one of Bryan’s yoga DVDs, it is like he is right there with me in the room.

You Choose a Practice Based on What You Need

Yoga DVDs allow you to focus on what you need at a specific time. You can choose one that focuses on stress reduction, one that helps you build your upper body, one that helps build your core. You can also pick one that suits your specific physical situation such as pregnancy yoga or yoga for seniors. You decide what you want and you choose the video that meets that need.

It’s Easy to Modify Postures

Lately, I have been dealing with an injured foot that occurred while I was running. As a result, I can’t put any pressure on the front of my foot. That means I have to modify a number of poses such as Plank Pose -- I need to put my knees down so I don’t bear my entire body weight on my forefoot. Sometimes it takes a lot of extra movements to get into a posture because of this injury. I would find it very uncomfortable to have to do all of these modifications in a regular class with other people around. By using one of my yoga DVDs, I can easily modify the posture to meet my physical needs and I can do it in the privacy of my own home.

Now you can see why I think yoga DVDs and videos are so great. They are easy, convenient, and they can add breadth to your practice. Try some and see for yourself. You might grow to love them too.

Della Menechella is a yoga and fitness enthusiast who has been involved in fitness for over thirty years. Her website http://www.beauty-fitness-yoga-source.com/ is filled with practical information about how you can make yoga and fitness a positive part of your life.