Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yoga Teacher Training: Pregnant Students

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Yoga and Pregnancy

By Mike Herman

If you’re pregnant and are already in yoga classes, don’t be afraid to take a break from your current classes or to take a class that is less strenuous. Even if you haven’t gone public with your pregnancy yet, you should have a confidential talk with your instructor let him or her know of your pregnancy, the instructor will then be able to assist you with less strenuous postures or teach you poses that you aren’t doing that will help you.

If you are new to yoga and are looking for a low impact way of exercising the best thing to do is to look for a prenatal yoga class. These classes are designed for pregnant parishioners and you can start them as early in your pregnancy as you want. If you are having morning sickness, you may want to wait until that passes and that usually is the second trimester.

If you have been practicing yoga for a while, you still may find your regular classes seem to be too intense for you. Prenatal yoga training classes may seem too easy, so at this point you will need to decide which class you should take on a given day depending on how you feel.

The solution might also be to include some prenatal poses that have been adapted into your regular routine. If you are in a class, your yoga instructor may help you with special poses developed for pregnancy and your changing body. When you enter the second or third trimester, you may find that prenatal classes are more suited for your body and its changing shape.

If you practice with videotape, you should buy a prenatal video. Some of the recommended first trimester poses are ones that open the hips such as Pigeon, Triangle, Warrior II, and Knee to Ankle.

Second Trimester?

Are you an enthusiast and want to continue to do your Yogic exercise practice while pregnant? Yogic exercise can continue to be practiced during your second trimester with just a few precautions. By the second trimester, your morning sickness should be over and should be feeling better.

If you haven't yet started yoga training yet and wish too - you are in luck, "now is the perfect time to start".  Always contact your health care provider before starting any new exercise program. This is a good rule of thumb even if you aren’t pregnant.

Start with finding a class with an excellent and experienced instructor. Many women enter yoga for the first time during their pregnancy so don't worry that you will be the only new pregnant woman in class. Talk with your friends and get references for a prenatal Yoga instructor.

If you are already practicing yoga, there is no need to give up your classes if you feel strong enough to do them. You can incorporate your own adaptations to the poses when fitting. As your belly grows, the more adaptations you will need to make.

You will want to take any inversion pose to the wall if it poses a risk of falling. If you aren’t comfortable doing these poses, then it’s all right to give your body permission to skip them. One that you can practice safely is the Legs Up the Wall Pose.

If you practice at home, you still might consider going to a prenatal class at least once or twice a week. You will be able to connect with other pregnant women there and know you are not alone in what you are going through.

Some Yoga Poses you will want to avoid during your second trimester or at least adapt them to your growing belly. Deep twists from the belly compress all of your internal organs, including the uterus. You can continue to do the twists, just do them gently from the shoulders instead of the belly.

Of course avoid any jumping or poses that require back bends. Abdominal strengtheners should be avoided, as they need to be softened in preparation for birth. Of course, lying on the belly should not be practiced once you begin to show. It will probably be too uncomfortable for you anyway.

Practice the Birthing Breath, deep inhalations in through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth.

Third Trimester?

In the third trimester of your pregnancy, everything becomes more difficult to do. Tying your shoes, climbing upstairs and even turning over in bed can become a chore. Yoga will become more difficult and you should use more caution but there isn’t any reason you can’t continue to practice yoga up to your due date.

For those that were working and are now on maternity leave, you might just now be finding time to do prenatal yoga. You will still benefit from doing gentle yoga stretches and poses. If you are attending a class, be sure your Yoga teacher knows when you are due. Remember, now is the time to take it easy. It isn’t the time to be an overachiever. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program or if you have questions about which prenatal yoga is best for you.

If you are listening to your body, it will tell you what you can and can't do. Continue to stay in touch with your body, allow your body to take it easy. It’s a good idea to continue practice breathing, as this will help you during the birth process.

Some poses that are recommended for the third trimester are hip openers such as Pigeon, Warrior II, Triangle, and Knee to Ankle. All four Cat-Cow positions will also help by preparing the baby for birth. They will help the baby get in proper position, head down and it’s back turned toward your belly.

Of course, the same poses you adapted during your second trimester must be practiced with extra caution. No jumping, or twisting from the belly, deep back bends or anything that involves strengthening the abdomen. Goes without saying, there shouldn’t be any poses that need you to lie on your belly.

One of the more important aspects to remember when you are practicing Yoga during pregnancy is to control your breathing and listen to your body. Practicing yoga and listening to your body will help prepare mentally for the birth process. As you learn to be in the moment and quiet your inner body, Yoga will help with that as well as your breathing exercises.

Pregnancy doesn’t have to be an obstacle in your practice of Yoga. In fact, it can be a vital part of your prenatal routine. With poses that are designed for pregnancy and incorporating routines that will help you to have an easier birth. Some routines you will find you are unable to do. If you are unsure of the poses, listen to your body. It will tell you which ones that are too much for you in time in your pregnancy.

So, don’t be afraid to continue your Yoga practice. It may mean that you will have an easier delivery and a faster recovery after birth. It also should make getting into shape after birth easier as well.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Yoga Teacher Training: The Right Time and Place

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Yoga and Self Analysis: The Right Time and Place

By Paul Jerard

As many of you know, Yoga is something you can practice any time. You can be mindful of others, show loving kindness, forgive, give to charity, keep good posture, eat right, and practice Yogic breathing techniques during your day, without much problem.

Those who practice physical forms of Yoga training will have to set aside time during the day for Asanas. Meditation is practiced without any distractions, therefore, you will have to budget your time. It may be more convenient to practice meditation after your Asanas are finished. So far, everything seems easy enough for the average Yoga practitioner to fit into his or her lifestyle.

Alternately, self analysis is a part of Yoga teacher training that many practitioners do not have time for. You cannot practice self analysis when you are “in the heat of battle.” This preoccupation will cause self doubt if you are in a pressurized situation. You must react to life as it is right now, and be in the moment to find solutions.

This seems to be a paradox: We think of self analysis and Yogic methodology as empowering practices. We do not associate self analysis with temporary mental paralysis.

However, in order for you to make significant discoveries about yourself, and consider how to apply your skills to life, there is a certain amount of time needed to envision the fruits of your labor. You will then have to put your visions, plans, and goals into action.

So, how, and when, do you make the time for a self analysis session? Much like Yogic meditation, you need a quiet time and place. Try to allow one hour per week; and if you come up with a blank, at a certain point, finish your session with meditation. You can meditate on a related point, or practice, any familiar Yogic form of meditation.

Self analysis sessions require a pen and paper. Although some of you may opt for a PDA, or a laptop, some will still prefer the experience of putting an idea down on paper. This will also give you something to reflect on during the week and in the following sessions.

Just like Yoga teacher training, self analysis can be practiced with others, with a coach, or with a master teacher. The big difference is the direction your session will go in.

Anyone you choose to share thoughts with must be trustworthy or there will be no benefit. Therefore, much like your meditation sessions this is very much a rewarding form of self discovery. If you have any difficulty, this skill can be improved by practicing with a competent Yoga teacher.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yoga Training

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Yoga Equipment
By David Wells

Yoga is quickly becoming very popular, and for good reason. Yoga will make almost anyone feel better and in shape. For most, yoga is the ideal exercise to keep your body in shape while helping you relax and unwind at the same time.

Research has demonstrated that yoga can help control anxiety, reduce asthma, alleviate arthritis symptoms, lower blood pressure, eliminate back pain, and benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, epilepsy, diabetes, headaches, stress and much more.

Yogic exercise offers a lot of benefits. Perhaps its most important benefit is it's ability to reduce tension and stress. Stress can lead to a whole slew of other health problems.

Yoga training increases muscle tone, strength, stamina and flexibility. If you are overweight, yogic exercise can help you gently reduce your weight and keep the pounds an inches off. Yogic exercise can burn excess fat and give you your desired figure.

Yoga can also help you improve your concentration and enhance your creativity. It can help you to think more positively and learn to live free of anxiety.

Your body needs to relax from time to time. Sometimes, work can leave us feeling spent and exhausted. During busy days, we may not be able to unwind because work is still on our mind. Yogic exercise can help you create a sense of calmness and well being to replace this stress from work.

Yoga training exercise improves circulation. Your organs and veins need to move and stretch to function properly. Yogic fitness can also help stimulate your immune system to protect you from disease.

Don't confuse it with religion. It's just a method of exercise with a long list of benefits to your health and well being. If you begin to feel more spiritual it's probably because you are more in tune with your body and life than you were before you started training.

The pressure and demands of life can leave us stressed out. We find ourselves rushing most of the time with the deadlines and hassles we need to keep up with. This leaves us little time to rest our minds and relax.

These are just a few of the many powerful benefits yoga training has to offer. Find a little time to dedicate to it every day and you will begin to feel more calm, certain and relaxed than you thought possible.

Make the most of your exercise witht he right yoga training equipment.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yoga Teacher Retention Tips

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How can Yoga teachers make new students realize the value of long-term training? Is it just luck, or where you are located, that draws appreciative students? Is there a method for teaching Yoga to new students, without scaring them off? Let’s look at many solutions to keep the interest of your established students and those new Yoga students, who just walked in the door.

When a new student arrives to learn Yoga, he, or she, may not have any previous Yoga experience. When teaching Yoga to new students, it is wise to see it from their viewpoint. Everything is new, including your staff, your system, and your method of teaching. It is up to the teacher to make of all these components “user friendly.”

Here are some tips for you, your staff, and the way your facility is run. Remember that these guidelines also apply to your existing Yoga students too. Never take them for granted and your students will stay with you “through thick and thin.” Always show appreciation to your existing Yoga students.

Always give Yoga students your complete attention and make sure your teaching method for Yoga is the best it can be. If you are feeling ill, or are in pain, you may have to let a substitute Yoga teacher, teach your Yoga class, in your place. All of us want to teach our own Yoga classes, but the quality of your teaching should always be the best it can possibly be.

Do not get caught up in “penny pinching.” Some teachers become adversarial about fees for every little thing. If you teach Yoga for a living, charge a fee that you can live with. Do not “short change” yourself, but avoid the perception of a “money hungry” salesperson. Do not hire pushy sales people either. Your Yoga teaching service depends on a professional image that is seamless, compassionate, truthful, and a pleasure to work with.

Make sure you can deliver on all of your promises. Never talk about Yoga as a cure. This implies that we cure our students of ailments. Yoga definitely does help with many ailments, but when you make guarantees, you leave yourself open for “legal grief.” A promise is a guarantee, and can potentially put you out of the Yoga business permanently.

When you teach Yoga, stick to the facts, and know the exact sources of research, before making a statement. Most Yoga teachers do not have a medical degree, so avoid medical opinions, unless you are a medical doctor. A wise Yoga teacher would tell his, or her, Yoga students to seek medical advice from a physician. Yoga students should also look into the value of a second opinion from a qualified medical professional.

Make sure your staff, and the person who answers the phone, are very friendly. If this is not the case, find replacements. A rude receptionist will scare off existing, and new, Yoga students. Your receptionist is the “keeper of the gateway” to learning Yoga from you, and gives the first impression of what you are all about. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Lastly, always return phone calls. At our wellness center, we constantly get calls from new, and eager, Yoga students who called another school first.

However, the first call was not answered, and then, we get the second call. I cannot complain about this, it works to the advantage of my staff, but not answering phone calls, at any Yoga studio, gives all Yoga teachers a bad image.

If you follow these basic guidelines, you will keep more of your existing Yoga students. New Yoga students will want to repeat a good experience, so you do not have to preach them about the value of long-term Yoga practice. They will eventually see it for themselves and will come to appreciate your teaching method.

Always remember: Becoming a successful teacher is not luck, it is a formula that you must practice every day.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Monday, May 22, 2006

Yoga Philosophy for Beginners

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Yoga Philosophy for Beginners

By Paul Jerard

Are you searching for much more from your Yoga class than just a workout? What deeper concepts should you learn in your Yoga practice? How can philosophy, taught by a Yoga teacher, change the quality of your life today?

There are so many Yoga philosophy concepts, but here are three that will help you shed many burdens in life. Yoga teachers vary on how much Yogic philosophy they will teach within a typical class. The cause of this may be the type of Yoga class, the perceived popularity, or the Yoga teacher’s choice.

In my Restorative Yoga classes, I teach much more Yogic philosophy than I do in a Vinyasa Yoga class. The same can be said for the amount of meditation time within my North Providence Restorative Yoga classes.

If you are wondering why - here is the answer: My Vinyasa Yoga students are usually younger and could really care less about Yogic philosophy or any other philosophy. They just want to work hard, so we work on mind and body only.

Am I selling out? You can be the judge, but these Yoga students will change with time, and will eventually want to see more of what Yoga has to offer. They are not in a big rush to learn any other form of Yoga, beyond the physically challenging styles - which is fine, because I need to get my exercise, too.

The following are three basic Yogic philosophy principles that will change your life, for the best, today. Try them, and you will make your life happy, simple, and less stressful. Make the change today, or tomorrow morning, for your overall health.

Loving kindness toward yourself, and others, starts from the moment you wake up. Stop criticizing yourself and others. Take positive action and you will see big changes. This is very hard to do, but try not to make negative comments about those who do not live up to your standards. If you can help by being a good example, that’s fine, but do not make it an issue, or a point of contention.

Never beat yourself up with criticism. If you have done wrong, make an effort to change and find solutions, but do not dwell on past mistakes. It will not be to your benefit to meditate on guilt.

Forgiveness is important for your survival and the quality of your own life. You have to let go and forgive others, for your own good. A grudge is a “prison sentence.” Let it go and you become free to do more important things. If you do not let it go, your overall health will suffer, as a result.

Being content with what you have is also known as Santosha. This will stop you from driving yourself crazy - when you are constantly competing with everyone around you. If a friend just bought a new house, feel good for him or her. Do not worry about what you do not have. Be happy about what you do have.

This applies to the physical aspect of Yoga, as well. If you see another student easily perform difficult asanas, be happy for him or her, but be proud of your own accomplishments. For example: You may have improved balance, learned a Pranayama technique to reduce stress, be eating a better diet, or feel the many benefits of meditation.

Make these three Yogic concepts a part of your daily life, and you will enjoy life’s many treasures.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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If you are a Yoga teacher, studio manager, 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 and Namaste, Paul

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Perseverance of Teaching Yoga

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The Perseverance of Teaching Yoga

By Paul Jerard

Why do talented students fall short of becoming a Yoga teacher?

Ever notice that “quick flashes” of brilliance disappear in a short time. Take for example, the super flexible Yoga student who can do a split in every direction, and make a pretzel, or circle, out of his, or her, body on the first Yoga class. Usually, this student will leave after the first class saying, “Is that all there is to Yoga?”

As most of us know there is so much more to Yoga than mere flexibility, but how do you make a student aware of this in his or her first Yoga class? Do you really want to try? Some Yoga teachers jump through “flaming hoops” to appease a potential student who has natural flexibility. This happens much to the dismay of dedicated and established Yoga students who have been training for years.

So what is the problem and why do we worship exceptional flexibility and physical prowess? The problem stems from the Yoga teacher who has forgotten what the prime ingredient is within the exceptional Yoga student. That ingredient is “perseverance” and that is what separates the “flash in the pan” from the Yoga student who may well evolve into a Yoga teacher. The student who shows up to Yoga class and tries to do his, or her, best should never be taken for granted.

Perseverance is a true guarantee of success for Yoga students and Yoga teachers alike. When you think about your life, perseverance has always played a major role in your past achievements. How many people will tell you that teaching Yoga is not a good career move? Plenty will, but you must have the fortitude and perseverance to pursue your own desire, in the first place.

In order to make any achievement, you need a formula for success. Here is a list of ingredients that you must have in order to succeed at teaching Yoga or anything else in life. Firstly, you need desire and passion to become a Yoga teacher. If you don’t have it, that’s no problem, just find something that you feel passionate about. Do not waste time pursuing any goal without passion.

Secondly you must have a dream that you can visualize. If you can picture yourself teaching Yoga, and feel the joy of your journey, you are fine. However, if you cannot see yourself becoming a Yoga teacher, it just might not be your “calling.” Whatever the goals you choose to pursue in life, you will need both desire and the ability to visualize your dreams, in order to proceed to the next step.

The third ingredient is to take action. The difference between a dream and a goal is how much action is propelling the idea forward. If I visualize becoming a Yoga teacher without any action, then this is just a “pipe dream.” You would be better off to dream in your sleep and take action while you are awake.

Look around you and you will see most people do not make any significant changes or take positive action. If you want to teach Yoga, this is to your advantage. Why do I say this? So many people passionately talk and dream without action. Even after you become a Yoga teacher, you must still take action, but many people “rest on their laurels.” A few Yoga teachers skip their continuing education, become stale, and eventually quit.

How can this happen? Because Yoga teachers and everyone else should write down goals, make plans, and keep taking action. This is not that difficult, but sitting down and dreaming is easier. The biggest difference between those who think about becoming a Yoga teacher and those who become a Yoga teacher is action. Determination and perseverance do count against all the odds.

The last ingredient toward successfully teaching Yoga is to maintain your own personal practice and continue your education on Yogic subjects as they apply to your students. Learn more about safety, anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, sports medicine, modifications, props, and physical therapy. Network with medical professionals and you will learn more. Learn about Yogic philosophy for yourself and for those Yoga students who are eager to learn from you.

This is what I refer to as the “monitoring stage.” You cannot expect your ability to improve as a Yoga teacher to run on “auto-pilot.” You still have to write down and reach for goals.

Again, perseverance comes into play. For every Yoga teacher I know, perseverance has become a way of life. This is the way it must be in an ever-changing and fast paced world. Your dreams may not go according to plan bur perseverance is your private mental strength. When you teach Yoga classes, you must address the needs of your students and this causes self-improvement.

The rewards for Yoga teachers are many, but giving Yoga instruction requires determination. You will run into obstacles, like any other profession, but how do you want to be remembered? Think about this: Every person you help will help someone else. You are causing a positive chain reaction by teaching Yoga classes at a time when positive energy is in big demand.

As a Yoga teacher, you have the potential to do enormous good, but you must focus your attention on your faithful Yoga students, your family, and friends. It is normal to take people we are familiar with for granted, but you must persevere to appreciate what you already have.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Secrets of Exceptional Yoga Teachers, Part 2

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Secrets of Exceptional Yoga Teachers, Part 2

By Paul Jerard

Professional and responsible Yoga teachers become exceptional Yoga teachers. The Yoga teacher who shows up late for class, is disorganized, and does not have a hint of lesson plan in his or her head, will not be successful. As a Yoga teacher, your conduct should be professional at all times. You cannot “act like a Yoga teacher” during a class and then provoke conflicts outside of your classes.

Yoga instructors need to have problem solving skills, as not all bodies are the same. Some students will require a bit more “maintenance,” than others. You are a living and breathing guide to Yoga’s many aspects. You will be asked to explain the physical, mental, and possibly the spiritual benefits of Yoga. As a result, you will become a better Yoga teacher than you imagined.

The responsibility just comes with leadership and being self-employed. An independent mind-set is ingrained through the daily routine of handling your own affairs. You are in charge of your own finances, health, career, and more.

Being willing to adapt and evolve is a key component to teaching Yoga. Now more than ever Yoga and healing information is being exchanged at the speed of the Internet. You must absorb information in regard to Yoga, physical therapy, ailments, physiology, anatomy, kinesiology, and sports medicine.

Therefore, you may want to learn how to speed read or listen to audio books. Your Yoga lesson plans will evolve, when you learn new methods for safety, modifications, and how to help Yoga students with ailments.

Planning and preparation are a part of each day, as you get ready for each Yoga class. You must also write down your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals. This will propel you to a level of Yoga teaching beyond your “wildest dreams.” This method is a matter of positive visualization and using positive energy for the good of those you come into contact with. You will be shocked to see your written goals become reality, but written goals do come true quite often.

Setting a pace is a matter of being reasonable with yourself and those around you. This may sound strange, but I have seen Yoga teachers push themselves too far. Life is a journey, not a race, and the rewards of pacing yourself will be plentiful, if you allow yourself the time to “stop and smell the flowers.”

Ambition is the final key, but based upon what I have already said, all aspirations should be “kept in check.” Never look at life from a linear viewpoint. Enjoy your loved ones and friends, as you work toward becoming an exceptional Yoga teacher. This will be your holistic path to success.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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If you are a Yoga teacher, 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 and Namaste, Paul

Secrets of Exceptional Yoga Teachers, Part 1

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Secrets of Exceptional Yoga Teachers, Part 1

By Paul Jerard

Would you like to know a formula for becoming an exceptional Yoga teacher? What separates the exceptional Yoga teacher from the “pack?” Here is an itemized formula to become an exceptional and successful Yoga instructor.

Continuing education is part of a Yoga instructor’s job description. Although you may teach Yoga, you must accept being a student of Yoga for life. Learn what you can, to benefit your Yoga student’s ailments, and when you have time, learn a little bit more. With 5,000 years of documentation behind it, Yoga is like a great mountain where one lifetime will just not be enough to discover everything.

Patience is the next ingredient within an exceptional Yoga teacher. Be patient with yourself, your family, your friends, and your Yoga students. Do not put pressure on anyone unnecessarily. Some Yoga students have to grow into the practice. You might be unknowingly doing the same to yourself or your loved ones. The key is to become aware of it and always be mindful of others.

Take action and understand the laws of cause and effect (Karma). Most of the world takes no action at all, but exceptional Yoga teachers do not “sit on their hands.” Just by taking action, you will be a success in life. Great ideas mean nothing without action, but your actions should always help others. It is fine to help yourself, just make sure you are not harming anything in the process.

Compassion is needed to become an exceptional Yoga teacher. You must show compassion for Yoga students and for mankind. Treat everyone possible with loving kindness. When this is impossible avoid negative people who seek pleasure through spreading pessimism, bigotry, hatred, greed, and envy.

Passion for Yoga and for helping other people can be found in most Yoga teachers. The Yoga teacher who just “does it for the money,” will not last. If you feel like that, you should find your “real calling,” passion, and true desires. Life is too short to waste time doing a job that you dread. Strangely, I have never met a Yoga teacher who regretted teaching Yoga. If I ever find one, I will let you know.

Courage is required to be your own boss. To wake up each morning and go it alone, without someone over your shoulder is a Yoga teacher’s life reward. Most of the masses like to be told what to do, but the Yoga teacher makes his or her own hours. There is some responsibility that goes with any business, but every Yoga teacher knows the responsibility is worth it.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Yoga in Practice
If you are a Yoga teacher, studio manager, 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 and Namaste, Paul