Thursday, November 30, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: My Yoga Students Do Not Want to Meditate

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Recently, I received an Email from a colleague about local Yoga students and their desire to “skip” meditation. It seems some Hatha Yoga students find it appropriate to get up and leave before meditation starts. In the area, where he is located, no Yoga studios have meditation, as part of the curriculum.

Apparently, there is a lack of interest and this would leave most Yoga teachers discouraged. However, these same students love asana practice. They state that meditation is boring, and they could be doing something useful, instead.

What can Yoga instructors do to explain the mental benefits of meditation? At this point, mentioning spiritual health benefits would fall on deaf ears. When students cannot appreciate anything beyond physical stimulation, it is doubtful they would appreciate anything that cannot be physically measured.

If we teach Yoga without mediation, is it really Yoga anymore? Is this how the Pilates Method was born? Should we “fold in” to popular demand, in order to keep our Yoga schools open? Should we create a new Yoga hybrid, without a soul?

There are many new and interesting ideas to develop the mind and body connection, but Yoga teachers should not be discouraged. When most of our students get a mind and body connection through asana practice, this is a small start for the evolution of Hatha Yoga in western culture.

We live in a culture of “Attention Deficit Disorder,” and it is difficult for people to focus and "unplug" from distractions. Most of our Yoga students are totally addicted to multi-tasking.

Some students quietly refuse to shut their cell phones off in class. No matter how many signs you post, there will be a Yoga student, who will leave his or her cell phone on, and it will eventually ring off.

No wonder, Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma Yoga, never got a serious "foot hold" here. Although Yoga teachers spend time on daily meditation; a deep meditation session may not be "popular" with your students, if there is a lot of nervous energy is in the room.

In this case, you could expose your students to a five minute session of mindfulness or Breath Awareness meditation. It is a start, and a brief tour toward their inner being. A brief five, or ten, minute relaxation sequence is also an option.

Very few of our students want to experience more than the 15 minute meditation segment, at the end of a Yoga class. Being distracted and multi-tasking is a normal state of mind to children. Unfortunately, many parents are in the “same boat.”

Therefore, teachers should not their waste time, lecturing students about the benefits of meditation. You would be better off creating a student handout about meditation for stress management and mental health. Reliable Information about the benefits of meditation will create interest among your students.

It is reasonable to say, that everyone should give their mind a rest. The ancient Yogis knew this and it is up to Yoga teachers to let the public be aware of the benefits of meditation, while you have their attention.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or see our selection of online yoga teacher training programs, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga 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. Namaste!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: Prana and Pranayama

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Prana, which is also known as vital energy, is in the air, our bodies, and objects around us. One of my students remarked that Prana could not be in his Yoga mat, since it was an inanimate object.

After all, his Yoga mat was not a living being, so how could it contain Prana? How could ancient Yogis know of the existence of Prana about 5,000 years ago?

We cannot visibly see vital energy? None of us can see the mind create ideas either. Yet, the mind creates ideas, and we put them into action, with our voice and hands. So, Prana is not an object.

We cannot see a Yoga mat move, but it is moving all the time - at the atomic level. In fact, your Yoga mat is full of open space at the atomic level. Electrons are flying around in many open spaces within your Yoga mat.

On the other hand, we are born, live, and die, on planet Earth, a moving object, which does not appear to be moving at all. The universe is infinitely vast and infinitely small, at the same time. Prana is the power behind the perpetual movement of the universe. We now know that the universe is moving at every level.

Within Prasna Upinshad, Chapter 2, Verse 5, Prana is described in this way: “It burns as fire. It is the sun, rain, Indra, wind, earth, and it is food. It is the luminous god. It is being and non-being. It is immortality.” To go a bit further on this point, you can see Prana is a power that is everywhere, is not an object, and apparently is difficult for the human mind to define.

We are smug and take our ability to learn for granted. At the touch of our finger tips, the Internet gives us much more access to knowledge than ancient Yogis had in all of their scriptures, and in any other scriptures that existed, on earth, at that time.

However, the ancient Yogis took the time to observe nature and the cosmos. They were in tune with their surroundings and the natural laws of the universe. The ancient Yogis did not have to waste their time with spam and waves of disinformation. Achievements and mistakes are always made, but they documented them, so we could learn from them.

Without tools, computers, or machines, Pranayama is a method to alter Prana at a level, in which the human mind can easily comprehend. Pranayama is Yoga’s answer to regulating Prana, with the breath.

In Yoga, Pranayama can be used to heal in times of need. Pranayama is useful for stress, grief, anxiety, nervousness, and many more ailments, which plague mankind, but Pranayama should be learned with the guidance of a competent Yoga teacher.

For physical health, Pranayama is the most important of Hatha Yoga’s many methods.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

If you are a teacher, yoga studio, 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

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hatha Yoga Certification Home Study Courses

By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Let’s say, you have decided to become a Yoga instructor, but you do not have weeks or months, of free time, to spend away from your family, friends, and obligations. You have researched Yoga certification classes around the world. The typical training course for Yoga instructors will also require you to pay fairly large sums of money, which creates another hardship.

Are there any other instructor training options for the working person, with family obligations, and a budget? Yes, there are, and a Hatha Yoga certification home study program meets the needs of many practitioners who aspire to teach Yoga. With Internet technology, we also have online Yoga instructor training study programs.

Hatha Yoga Certification home study courses, correspondence courses, and distance learning courses, have existed for decades. Not everyone has the financial resources, or free time, available to “fly off” to Tahiti or India.

In an ideal world, it would be nice to have the time, and money, to attend a teacher certification class in Honolulu, but maybe it’s just not realistic thinking, at this time. Is a Hatha Yoga certification obtained through home study course starting to sound more realistic?

What should you be looking for in a home study course designed for instructors? What material should a Hatha Yoga home study course contain? Will there be certification videos or DVDs? Should the whole Yoga instructor training course be designed for online learning?

There are many options these days. A basic Yoga instructor’s training course and certification should consume a minimum of 200 study hours. This 200 hour standard has become the generally agreed minimum requirement for most of the world's Yoga teacher certification organizations.

There are some Yoga teacher certifications that require less than 200 hours, but will you learn about modifications, contraindications, anatomy, physiology, the subtle body, chakras, mudras, bandhas, doshas, kriyas, asanas, meditation, and Pranayama in less than 200 hours? Remember that 200 hours is the generally agreed “minimum” number of Yoga teacher training study hours.

Online video has become the most popular international format for learning new information, so certification videos should have the option to be viewed online. DVD should also be an option for interns. If you have previous experience as a student and a Yoga teacher for guidance; your instructor internship will be a smooth process. Experienced practitioners can easily grasp the concepts presented within certification videos.

However, if you have no previous experience, as a student, you can make life easier on yourself by seeking the guidance of a competent Yoga teacher in your local area.

Lastly, the ability to turn in written assignments by Email speeds up the instructor certification process, but it also helps to get tutoring by Email or phone. These are options to consider when choosing a Hatha Yoga certification home study program.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: How to Influence Students without Criticism

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When you are teaching Hatha Yoga classes, do you ever want to reach out to a particular student, who does not seem to understand a Yogic technique? Maybe you feel a bit frustrated that you have covered this same point, in the last six Yoga classes, and this student was there each time, but does not comprehend it.

You must first realize this Yoga student is very loyal and should not be taken for granted. Yoga teachers are human, and feel frustration, but this is a person who willingly gives his or her time to learn Yoga from you. The Yoga teacher / student relationship should never be taken for granted.

A loyal Yoga student is valuable, persistent, dedicated, and you should make him or her aware that you notice the effort. If you praise what he or she does right, your cueing, and assisting, will not be perceived as criticism. Self-worth is part of human nature and creates a Yoga student who is anxious to perform better at your next Yoga class.

When you speak to your Yoga students, no effort, on your part, should be wasted. Each word you speak, within your class, should have a high value and purpose. Some Yoga teachers relish every opportunity to criticize their students. Criticizing gives some teachers an opportunity to hear their own voice and feel important.

Be sure that what you have to say to your Yoga students is really helpful. Remember that criticism also makes your students feel unimportant. If a student perceives that a Yoga teacher is bolstering his or her ego, through criticism, the feeling of inspiration to come to more Yoga classes is gone.

Pure criticism tends to make Yoga students, and people in general, defensive, emotionally dejected, and causes a lack of enthusiasm, within the class. Knowing this, every Yoga teacher should use his or her knowledge to influence students. The difference is that a student has a distinct feeling of free will, when a Yoga teacher influences him or her, with compassion and true purpose.

There is a reason why students keep coming back to the same Yoga teacher. The reason will differ between students, and we cannot please everyone, but Yoga teacher ethics tell us to speak, assist, and cue with compassion.

When the ego is involved in teaching, this is the opposite of Yogic philosophy. There is no place for the “drill sergeant mentality” in Yoga. The Hatha Yoga teacher, who lets his or her ego guide the lesson plan, during a class, should be teaching something else.

The point is that all forms of Yoga require teachers who listen empathically, observe with mindfulness, and find solutions for mental, physical, and spiritual health. When a Yoga teacher truly cares about a student’s quality of life, the positive energy can be felt within the classroom. This is the purest form of influence.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

To see find out more about yoga or see our selection of affordable online yoga teacher training programs, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga 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. Namaste!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga for Peace of Mind

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Peace of mind seems like a fantasy to most people. Even when they sleep, their dreams do not give them rest. The mind of an optimist can have pessimistic thoughts, which surface during sleep patterns. That said, can Yoga really help you find peace of mind?

When one of us decides to become a Yoga instructor, there are many different reasons why, but peace of mind is usually part of the reason. It is gratifying when we empower our Yoga students to find peace of mind.

Sometimes, a Yoga teacher chooses to “spread the word,” for his, or her, own peace of mind. Within personal Yoga practice, and teaching Yoga classes, most of us find a “retreat from the rat race.” Yoga class becomes more than a temporary rest for the mind.

Once you have found the tools to inner peace and quiet - you want to tell everyone about it, but many people do not really hear your message, even if their physical health is in jeopardy.

Physical health should be obvious; all we have to do is look in a mirror or mentally connect with our body. Benefits for the mind cannot easily be seen, but they can be felt. The problem is most people have disconnected from their physical body, and some people have actually disconnected from their minds.

Look at commuter traffic outside of any city and you will see people running from place to place on “auto-pilot.” Although there are more people attending Yoga classes than ever; the vast majority of people still have no time for Yoga, meditation, Pranayama, or anything related to good health. Imagine thinking you have no time to breathe or take care of yourself properly.

Many people work two jobs and fall asleep due to exhaustion. Peace of mind will have to wait, until the following day, but that day never seems to arrive. This is a cycle that can lead to a “disturbed mind.” The daily grind, without relief, can cause irreversible damage to the mind and body.

When or if, such a person takes a Yoga class, and briefly finds peace of mind - you will see an expression of awe on his or her face. I remember a student, who sat in the waiting room, after one of my Yoga classes. She looked like she was about to fall asleep and I asked her if she needed anything.

She replied, “No, I’m doing great. I haven’t felt like this, since I was seven.” She was just learning to enjoy the moment and this student was well over 70 years of age. Two decades later, I often hear similar stories from Yoga students on a regular basis. Physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, and other medical specialists are advising their patients to practice Yoga for a variety of ailments.

I have never regretted my decision to become a Yoga teacher, and the future looks very promising for Yoga instructors, in general. If you spread peace of mind far enough, it just might have an impact on world peace. On the local front, your Yoga students, who have peace of mind, will make a positive contribution to your community.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online yoga teacher training intensives, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga 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. Namaste!