Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hatha Yoga for Stress Management: New Year Yoga Plan

By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Are you ready to make a life changing resolution? What is a daily Yoga plan? How can a daily Yoga plan reduce stress and change your life?

You can make a change at any time of the year, but New Year’s resolutions are the most popular. Yet, we often see that New Year’s resolutions do not make it past Valentine’s Day. So, if you are ready to make a change and add Yoga to your life - let’s look at a way for you to be successful for the long-term.

Get a journal and prepare it for writing. I prefer to write things down, but you may prefer a lap top, personal digital assistant, or your computer. Either way, you should write your goals down - especially the amount of time you plan to practice Yoga in a studio, at home, or on the way to and from work.

You can practice Yoga all day long. When you consider the many aspects of Hatha Yoga, you can easily incorporate them into your life. Here are some examples, but remember to incorporate these habits gradually. Do not make Yoga into a task, but take the time to enjoy the aspects, which help you deal with stress and add quality to your daily life.

In the morning, upon waking, you can practice Pranayama in bed. There are many Pranayama techniques to choose from, but you may find Dirgha breath or natural breath to be easier at this time of the day. You could practice meditation upon rising, for ten to twenty minutes, if you have the time.

Once you are up and about, you could practice asana warm-ups or Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). If you do not have time, you could be mindful of what you eat by eating in moderation and making wise choices.

You can work on your posture as you sit, stand, walk or perform any physical task. Is your back straight when you eat? Do you take the time to enjoy your food? Are you breathing correctly or are you already short of breath? Does coffee make you short of breath? Which foods cause you adverse reactions?

This self-observation is just another exercise in mindfulness, but will cause you to open a form of consciousness, which will improve your daily life.

In order for us to make changes, we must first want, plan, observe, take action, and practice each day. Yoga is not a physical exercise to be counted by the minutes you practice on a Yoga mat. Physical exercise is just one aspect of Hatha Yoga.

To bring your life in balance, you must identify what you do that causes your stress. This will not eliminate all of your stress, but it will identify stressful situations, which you can prevent.

This is just one example of Yogic methods applied toward better health and a less stressful life. Writing down your Yoga plan is just the start of a good habit for positive change.

© Copyright - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga 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

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: Methods for Focus, Concentration, and Tranquility

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Even though many Yoga instructors have the right mindset, it is part of human nature to be distracted by the “problem of the day.” No matter whom you are, you are still human and no one is immune from losing focus, not even a Yoga instructor.

When I was giving a motivational talk about Yoga, one gentleman raised his hand and stated, “If Yoga really worked, all Yoga teachers would be immortal.”

My answer was that Yoga can promise better mental, physical, and spiritual health, but nothing yet has been developed for immortality. This plane of existence is for a limited time, but we can make the most of our time here, through Yoga practice.

Let’s look at a few methods, which will aid Yoga instructors and Yoga students find focus, concentration and tranquility.

Create your own atmosphere of positive energy by show loving kindness on a daily basis, and helping those in need. Make time for sincerely encouraging others.

There are homeless people in almost every community. If you see them, do not look away, but say hello to them on a daily basis. Why should we do this?

Firstly, we see them every day. Most people do not talk to them because of an internal fear of poverty. They are the “untouchables,” which exist in all societies. Poverty is something that most of us do not want to take an in-depth look at. Even those of us who rise from poverty can “forget our roots.”

The truth is, we should all count our blessings for what we have. If we are teaching Yoga, of any style, we are obligated to help others who are less fortunate. We can still spread positive energy around, outside of our Yoga schools.

A close look at poverty is a form of sobriety. It gives us focus and a greater purpose in our lives. We can help or contribute to worthy causes. When you help others it has an internal reward and it does create good Karma. We should not wait for a special season to practice Karma Yoga.

Another way to create focus, concentration, and tranquility, is to get rid of clutter. This happens on a mental, physical, and spiritual plane. Mental clutter can be solved by writing a “to do list.” Please do not fill your list completely, but do make an appointment for meditation and loved ones.

Physical clutter can be handled easily. Clean up rooms that cause you anxiety to look at. An organized room is better for your mental health. Give possessions that you do not use to a reputable charity.

This is also Karma Yoga and a good method for creating peace of mind. Spiritual clutter occurs when we have unfinished business. All of us come from different religions; and this is fine, but we should not wait to reconcile with family, friends, co-workers, and God.

I know a man who is an atheist, but he practices Karma Yoga every day. I joke with him, and tell him, he might just get to heaven. It is not for any of us to judge each other. No religion endorses prejudice and intolerance.

When a teacher begins to feel self-absorbed and superior to others, he or she is not practicing the union of mind, body, and spirit. What do we practice most often? Yoga does not end when we close the doors to our Yoga studio.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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If you are a teacher, yoga school owner, 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, Paul

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Yoga Instructor Certification Courses: How Important is a 200 Hour Certification for Yoga Teachers?

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When choosing a Yoga instructor program, you have to determine what it is that you want to get out of it. Do you want a comprehensive Yoga instructor’s course or a quick Yoga instructor diploma to teach Yoga classes? Potential instructors have different reasons for choosing to teach classes 

Are you looking for continuing education credits for the Yoga Alliance -The Yoga Register, British Wheel of Yoga, Yoga Alliance UK, The International Yoga Federation, or another registry of Yoga teachers? Do you want to enhance your knowledge and teach Yoga to your friends?

It is really all about evaluating what your primary motive is to teach Yoga. You should be aware that many places, which hire Yoga instructors, are requiring a Yoga teacher’s diploma from a 200 hour certification course. 

The 200 hour certification for Yoga instructor training has become a “bare minimum” standard for teaching. What is the reason for this? In a nutshell, it is liability. Liability has become a potential issue in every field, including fitness, weight loss, health, wellness, and Yoga.

Therefore, a teacher’s diploma from a 200 hour Yoga certification course; would be a prudent first step. A liability insurance policy for Yoga instructors would also be a wise precaution. Injuries in a Yoga class are very rare.

However, injuries can occur when a Yoga student has been inactive and develops the impulse to jump into a vigorous Yoga class. Yoga instructors should speak with potential students prior to their participation in a first class.

In this way, teachers will be aware of pre-existing conditions, within their students. Yoga teachers should establish communication at the initial meeting with any potential student. If an instructor course does not cover communication, contraindications, modifications, and some assisting, what good is it?

This is why a Yoga instructor’s diploma from a 200 hour certification course has become the minimum International hiring requirement for fitness centers and studios. Regardless of how you choose your certification course, for teacher training in Yoga, you want to be prepared for a variety of circumstances.

Hatha Yoga certification home study has become popular with many interns, who have family and work obligations. Some interns have expenses at home and do not have the luxury of $10,000 in spare cash to spend on a certification for teaching Yoga.

This is fine, but make sure the course is a 200 hour certification for teachers, and you will receive a diploma to teach upon successful graduation. There are continuing education and specialist certificates for instructors, which are for short courses. These make beautiful “wall paper,” for established Yoga teachers, but these are not Level 1 Yoga instructor certifications, which should state that you participated in a minimum 200 hour program.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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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!