Monday, October 31, 2005

Yoga Teachers Lead by Example (Part 1)

how to teach yoga
By Dr.  Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

During the course of a lifetime, most of us have heard the saying,” Do as I say, not as I do.” We see this kind of leadership everywhere we go. All politicians, religious leaders, police, sports professionals, parents, academic teachers, and Yoga teachers, lead by example, even if the example displayed is not a good one.

So, how does this concern you? You may not be a public figure, but your students, and the general public, know who you are. Some may even know more about you than you would like. As a Yoga teacher, you want to keep your health, behavior, and your ethics at a high standard - if you are going to be in the “public eye.”

As far as health is concerned, you should maintain your Yoga practice and meditate daily. This is an irony with many teachers because your time is also consumed with the business of Yoga, maintenance of the studio, advertising, and many more aspects that keep a business going.



My personal estimate of time that I spent on vacuuming, cleaning, and maintenance of the Yoga studio is thousands of hours before I hired someone else to do it. This does not account for any of the time spent on many other duties that go into running a  studio.

The average student has no idea of the preparation and support services involved before they come to a typical class. In reality, you want them to feel relaxed, so you don’t want your students to feel stressed out over the bookkeeping, marketing, and maintenance of your Yoga studio.

Therefore, you have to put your best “game face” on during class time. This is one very powerful reason for taking the time to develop your own personal Yoga practice. You still must expand your depth of understanding Yoga’s many facets.

Why do, or did, you want to be a Yoga teacher in the first place? The most common reasons for becoming a Yoga teacher are your passion for Yoga and to share the gift that has changed your life. Your health and your personal practice are an integral part of the Yoga teaching vocation.

Maybe you don’t have a staff and you are busy all the time preparing for the next Yoga class. What can you do? Budget your time and make a personal Yoga, or meditation session, for yourself. Spending thousands of hours on bookkeeping, marketing, cleaning, and maintenance is part of many Yoga studio owners’ lives, but you must also make the time to become a better practitioner.

You can also offer reduced rates to volunteers or “work for trade” programs to those Yoga students who help you with “domestic chores.” You should consult your accountant to make sure everything is legal and “above board.” You don’t want to violate any child labor laws or set yourself up for any legal problems, so make sure you are following the law “to the letter.” Remember also, that laws vary depending upon your location.



It’s too easy to let the business of Yoga become your new reality. The business of teaching Yoga is more time consuming than any of us can imagine as Yoga students. If you are spending so much time working on your Yoga business, that you have little time to practice, you must re-evaluate your reason for teaching Yoga.

Make time every day to expand your knowledge about Yoga’s many aspects. If you don’t take the time to be a Yoga student and engage in learning, continuing education, and nurturing your passion for Yoga, you risk burn out. The best Yoga teachers are students for life, who love to practice this wonderful discipline we know as Yoga.

When your studio, Yoga teaching position, or ashram becomes a daily burden, and you cannot expand your knowledge; the end result is no different than any other job. As a Yoga teacher, you owe it to your students to keep your “internal flames of passion” for Yoga going.


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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Restorative Yoga for Stress Management

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

We now know that stress contributes to a multitude of ailments, such as: headaches, backaches, high blood pressure, stomach disorders, lowered immunity, muscular tension, depression, heart attack, and much more. Stress is definitely a “killer” and the source of many health problems.

In fact, stress will prevent and distract your body from healing itself. While you are feeling “stressed out”, your body and mind make dealing with stress the number one priority. Your mind and body need to cope with regular maintenance and overall health, on a daily basis, by putting stress on the back burner.

Are you looking for a way to release stress, tension, and pain from your body? Are you tired all the time and feel the need to rest, but you know you should get some exercise? How can you do both? The answer is to start regularly attending Restorative Yoga classes, and reap the rewards of healing without a tremendous amount of effort.

There are many styles of Yoga to choose from. In India, there are nine main styles of Yoga, and Hatha Yoga is just one of them. Hatha Yoga, “the union of physical mastery,” and its many sub-types, are the most popular in the West.

Among the many Hatha styles of Yoga, are traditional and contemporary types of Yoga. Restorative Yoga is classified as a contemporary type of Hatha Yoga. Some might also say that Restorative Yoga is an evolutionary form of Hatha Yoga. The use of props, “sinking into” postures, safety factors, and attention to the internal body, is very rewarding.

This is not usually a class for the vigorous Yoga practitioners who want to move, push, and sometimes strain, in a Yoga posture. Unfortunately, straining will cause long-lasting injuries. Learning Yoga does not have to be a strain or struggle. Restorative Yoga usually attracts a person who is interested in healing his or her body, in the process of attending a Yoga class.

If you have ailments, feel nervous, or are attending your first Restorative Yoga class, you should consult with your Yoga teacher, before class time. Your Yoga teacher may be able to advise you in regard to techniques that will alleviate stress or pain. You can expect that your Yoga teacher will be compassionate and modifications to postures will be taught.

Your body and mind will feel the benefits of relaxing into a Yoga posture. As a result, you be able to balance your life, and feel the benefits of integrating good posture, stillness, movement, relaxation, proper breathing, and meditation.

Every one of these aspects is covered within a typical Restorative Yoga class. So, you can expect to start healing your body and mind during your first Yoga class. You will also continue to keep your priorities in order, while keeping worry, stress, depression, and fatigue on the “back burner.”

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Job Security for Three Decades

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

There is a growing need for more Chair Yoga teachers. Education about the mental and physical benefits of Yoga has spread like “wild fire” in the past couple of decades; but what about the needs of those who are not so young and limber? In some parts of the world, the number of seniors will outweigh the working population. Italy, the United States, and the rest of Europe, will see senior populations grow rapidly.

Within the United States, every seven seconds, someone turns 50 years of age. In 20 years, the number of people over 65 is projected to be over 60 million. “The writing is on the wall,” and there are many opportunities for Yoga teachers, senior fitness specialists, and health care professionals.

Although government bureaucrats will not adjust for massive senior health care needs, until it is too late, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. If you are currently a Yoga teacher, you should learn everything you can about Chair Yoga. Continuing education is a big part of teaching, so you want to learn about senior fitness, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, modifications, props, and contraindications.



If you are a Yoga student, who wants to teach seniors, you should learn everything you can, and get involved in a Teacher Training program. Chair Yoga teachers should have a solid foundation in Hatha Yoga and/or be familiar with the physical abilities of seniors.

Physical therapists, and senior fitness specialists, could easily learn Chair Yoga concepts, as well. However, you must be honest with yourself in regard to patience and compassion. This type of class is not for the instructor who just wants to do his, or her, “workout.”

Sure you can demonstrate, but you must also assist, modify, and cue those who cannot always hear so well. Therefore, patience, compassion, and safety, are of prime importance.

This is a direction of employment that could lead to 30 years of job security. Currently, I have been training local Yoga teachers, so they can work with seniors in the Providence area. The reason: As I have said before, “The demand for Yoga is far beyond what any one of us can do.”



Think about the cost of medical services, prescriptions, and physical therapy. Then, consider the cost of Yoga instruction. This is a “no-brainer,” but don’t expect to see a big change right away. Nevertheless, senior centers, assisted living complexes, and nursing homes have already caught onto the fact that Yoga is cost effective preventative medicine.

This proactive mind-set has also infiltrated the medical community. It is not uncommon for Yoga studios to get medical referrals. Medical professionals have so many patients that they are advising many prevention methods, and Yoga is one of them.

Do you think all of the Chair Yoga classes will be in senior facilities, 20 years from now? My bet is some of these classes will be in “top name” fitness centers. The fitness industry will not want to miss the opportunity to tap into a 60 million plus membership market, that will visit them during “off peak” hours.

Therefore, look for Chair Yoga and senior fitness to explode, in popularity, for the next two or three decades. This age group will be looking at Yoga for longevity, so it won’t be anything close to a “fad.”



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