Friday, June 16, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: The Transformation

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Anyone who decides to become a Yoga teacher goes through many transformations, but your students will go through a variety of transformations, as well. The relationship between Yoga teacher and student is healthy because of the sharing of knowledge. Due to this constant sharing of ideas, the Yoga teacher and his or her students become healthier, wiser, and spiritually connected.

Yoga teacher transformations start from the moment you decide to become a Yoga teacher, but they continue as you decide to take a Yoga teacher training course. After the Yoga teacher certification process, most Yoga instructors continue to learn more about Yoga philosophy, anatomy, other forms of Yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic medicine, or any one of the many subjects that Yoga teachers would logically pursue.

However, teaching Yoga classes on a regular basis is a form of continuing education, as you learn to teach students with different bodies, minds, and health conditions. This is where many Yoga teachers go through a gradual transformation toward Samadhi. Samadhi is the ability to control functions of the mind and body, while eliminating life’s daily distractions from the goal of complete consciousness.

To anyone who has never studied Yoga this seems like “mission impossible.” Yet, Yoga instructors learn to “walk the talk” of Yogic philosophy. What, at one time, seemed like a lofty goal; can actually be realized gradually. This all stems from teaching, sharing knowledge, and becoming a living example of steady Yoga practice. This is not a mystery, but a path that all Yoga teachers should walk.

These changes of body, mind, and spirit do not happen instantly. Some Yoga teachers and serious Yoga practitioners will receive different benefits and reach different levels of Samadhi, as a result of steady practice.

Yoga student transformation can sometimes be more easily felt or seen. In fact, a new student, who has never practiced Yoga before, may find relief from head aches, hypertension, or a back ache within a few classes. This is not a guarantee, but it does happen often. When a student feels the physical or mental benefits of practice he or she becomes transformed by discarding pain and gaining new found enthusiasm.

Within any given Yoga class, there is a form of collective transformation that students and teacher experience. If you take a typical Hatha Yoga training session and consider the warm ups, Pranayama, Sun Salutations, asana practice, meditation, relaxation, or an integration of any other Yogic components; the transformation is quietly happening to the entire group.

There is no mystery here. Transformation of mind, body, and spirit is a result of steady Yoga practice.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: What is Normal?

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Do people puzzle you sometimes? When you think you have heard it all, someone comes up with a “new spin” on an old idea. When you teach Yoga techniques for a healthy mind, body, and spirit; are you trying to help your students reach a normal state? If that is your goal, you may just frustrate yourself and confuse your Yoga students in the process.

The fact is: Yoga teachers should help students improve their lives, but the goals are really up to the students. You can teach goal setting skills, but a Yoga student has his or her own idea of what is normal and what the ultimate goal is.

Many Yoga teachers have a preconceived notion about which kind of behavior is acceptable within their Yoga class. When you trained to become a Yoga teacher, you listened to lectures about Yoga teacher ethics. You learned about what you could and should not do, when teaching a Yoga class. Later, you signed a Yoga teacher ethics agreement.

Then one day, a Yoga student displays behavior that is not in the “text books.” Is that normal? Well, it seems normal to him or her, but you have to be calm and keep your Yoga class as organized as possible.

No one can prepare you for every unexpected situation and life does not go in harmony with the best prepared plans. If you are commuting, by car, to teach your next Yoga class, and you are delayed by an auto accident, or a mechanical break down, your priorities have changed instantly. You are not in control of this situation and all you can really do is “damage control.”

Therefore, we cannot count on a Yoga class, or life, to be normal. Earth quakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, death, and behavior are very hard to predict. All a Yoga teacher can do is help one person, one student, or one Yoga class at a time.

Discard any ideas about what is normal. The universe, Yoga students, and life are constantly changing. As Yoga teachers, we must react to unforeseen problems, when they occur.

Preparation does prevent hesitation, but you cannot prepare for infinite situations.

If a student has a heart attack, in your Yoga class, your swift and even-tempered reaction is all that really matters. It also helps if you have current CPR training and certification, but reaction time is crucial.

Remember this: Expect the unexpected, react calmly to every possible situation, and do not lose sleep over situations that you cannot control.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications


To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online 500-hour yoga teacher training program, 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!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: The Value of Props

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

For Yoga teachers the value of props as a tool for alignment is priceless. Yet it is amazing when a Yoga teacher has a negative view of props and the students who use them. Every once in a while you get to hear contrasting views, but below I have listed two quotes that no one wants to take credit for.

“There are no props in my style, in my classes, or in my town. My Yoga teacher says props are a crutch and there is no reason to make them available to students.”

This is a closed minded view, if I ever heard one. What about the student who cannot bring his, or her, spine in a straight line when practicing Triangle posture? One block, placed in the correct location, will change the alignment of the entire body.

A wall might also make a major difference to some Yoga students. So why not adjust a student into better alignment so she or he can hold the position longer? This will build strength and the Yoga student will actually memorize correct alignment by feeling it.

“Yoga props are fluff. These people are not really practicing Yoga.”

This one comment “takes the cake.” My answer to this person was that she should seek a Yoga teacher who shared her lack of tolerance. Since Yoga training encompasses many things; who should say what “real Yoga” is, or is not?

Props are used by Yoga teachers from many styles of Hatha Yoga such as Iyengar Yoga, Tri Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Chair Yoga, and many more Hatha sub-styles. To be honest, the Yoga mat is a prop. It was not that long ago when Yogis did not use Yoga mats. Why reject progress being made by some of the most innovative minds in modern day Yoga?

One mistake that most Yoga students and Yoga instructors make is classifying and thinking of postures as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each body is unique and will be exceptional in some ways and less exceptional in others. We should stop focusing on the next “advanced posture” and think about the alignment of the Yoga posture we are in at the present moment.

Proper alignment should never be compromised for the sake of the ego. When you know that a blanket, bolster, ball, strap, block, chair, wall, or another prop would help a student’s alignment; using a prop is a “no brainer.”

Yoga teachers should make props available, but also be prepared to improvise. Most teachers do not have every prop available in their Yoga school. This is not a problem, and it will teach you to be creative. One of our Yoga teachers shows her students how to use the kitchen counter, the bottom steps of a stair case, and towels as props for Yoga practice at home.

There is no limit to what can be used for a Yoga prop. Our true potential, as Yoga teachers, is only limited by our thinking.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our inexpensive hatha yoga teacher training intensive courses, 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!


Monday, June 05, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: The Summer Slow Down

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Let’s face it, Yoga teachers who live in Northern climates have been looking forward to a break from the “winter chill.” Your Yoga students have also been looking forward to the warm weather and they want to take a vacation. What can teachers and Yoga schools do to compensate for the “Sumer Slow Down?”

You have taught your Yoga students about empowerment all year, but some students may not return to your regular classes, without a reminder. Many North Americans take a couple of weeks off in July and some summer vacations will be planned for August. Most of my friends in Europe take August off, therefore, Yoga teachers are looking at a minimum of one month during the summer that is predominantly slow, depending on your exact location and culture.




Some Yoga instructors in the Southern United States will experience a slow down, if the temperatures rise too much and too soon. Yoga classes can become sparse, especially if the temperatures jump to the 90’s Fahrenheit during late spring or early summer. So, what action can Yoga teachers take to deal with this vacation season?

How about special classes? Did you ever think about teaching Yoga classes in a pool? What about testing Yoga classes that you had not considered during a busy season? What about an “Introduction to Hot Yoga” or a Vinyasa style Yoga class that is a little warmer than usual? What about testing a short-term pranayama class or Yoga meditation workshop as a “pilot class” for the busy season?

Once again, I ask you to enlarge your vision and “think outside the box.” Do enough ground work and research to become an innovator, rather than “follow the crowd.” Even if your Yoga classes do slow down a bit, you can cater to your “regular students,” who are with you “through thick and thin.” Ask your Yoga students for feedback.

One last major point to bring up: Make sure you are working on “reminders” to your Yoga students who regularly attend classes during cooler weather. It is best to use this time to get a list of all of your Yoga students and prepare for a mailing in late August, or early September.




This is the time when children go back to school, and family plans are made for the fall schedule. If you teach Yoga for a living, your first priority is to thank your students for their past participation and remind them that you still teach Yoga.

It is very easy for anyone to forget their priorities, and students are no exception. Yoga instructors contribute to the well being of a student’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. When you see inactive Yoga students around town, they often thank you for what they have learned from you.

Therefore, do not take a summer slow down personally. This is a season that you should make the most of by taking action and testing new ideas for your Yoga school.


© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division



To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our online hatha yoga teacher training intensive courses, 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!






Sunday, June 04, 2006


Yoga Teacher Training and Yoga Certification Choices

By Paul Jerard

The following is an overview of the most popular Yoga teacher training methods. These days, there are so many options for Yoga teacher certification, that it might be good to get a general idea of Yoga teacher training courses first.

Onsite Yoga Teacher Training classes are usually held at Yoga studios and can last anywhere from one month to two years, depending on the depth of the material covered. These Yoga training sessions may meet every weekend or for weeks in succession.

If you have a regular job, it is best to find a Yoga teacher training course that works around your schedule and meets on weekends or evenings. It will be hard to explain your absence to your present employer; especially if you tell the truth, which is: You want to train to become a Yoga teacher.

Training for Yoga Teachers at a Yoga ashram, or Yoga retreat, is usually complete immersion without any of life’s daily distractions. Chances are there are living quarters for Yoga teacher interns and the staff. If you have no family or employer obligations, this is a great way to learn how to become a Yoga teacher. Many Ashrams function like universities, so it is a great atmosphere to study Yoga teacher training.

Luxury Vacation Yoga Teacher Training has become much more popular than most of us would have expected. You would study at a Yoga teacher training intensive in an exotic location. This is also complete immersion within the study of Yoga, but with all the “creature comforts.” If you have the financial resources, this might be the Yoga teacher training course for you.

Yoga Teacher Correspondence Courses are good for Yoga students with previous experience. Independent study, to become a Yoga teacher, requires a foundation of knowledge and previous experience. It also helps if you train with a local Yoga teacher or a group of Yoga enthusiasts.

Just make sure the Yoga teacher correspondence course you choose has a complete syllabus. This is a good option for Yoga teacher interns who have obligations at home or at work.

Weekend Yoga Teacher Training Intensives also require a bit more homework and should meet regularly. Do not fool yourself into thinking that you will learn to become a competent Yoga teacher in a single weekend. It just does not happen that quickly.

The study of Yoga is a continuous and never ending journey. Teaching Yoga requires that you become a perennial Yoga student for life. Whichever method you choose to reach your goal as a Yoga teacher, remember that continuing education is a key component to becoming a competent Yoga teacher.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Yoga Teacher Tips: Most Common Yoga Student Corrections

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Do you cover a prenatal warning before the start of a Yoga class? Every Yoga teacher should thoroughly go over it when adult female students come to your Yoga classes. You would be surprised how many will not tell you before class.

Also, you may want to add a Prenatal Yoga warning to your initial handout, waiver, or questionnaire, for new students. Prenatal Yoga classes are specifically designed for the safety of pregnant Yoga students. Do not teach pregnant Yoga students without Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga teacher training.

Forward Bend: For students who are in good health and who are not pregnant; the fold should be guided by the breath, while elongating the spine. Then the waistline will gently draw in to a point, while the heart draws toward the toes. This is easier said than done, but will help guide your students.

Neck Rolls, with the head tilted back, can grind the cervical vertebrae against each other, causing premature wear. This is not suggested for Yoga students of any age, especially middle age and up. Your Yoga students might do this warm- up exercise slowly - and that is much better than doing it fast, but it is still not acceptable.

Also related to neck movement - linear movement, and the front part of the neck circle, are fine - if done very slowly, but this still may not be a good idea for your older Yoga students. Any neck movements should be performed in Yoga training sessions, only after gentle isometric exercises for the neck. You should combine Pranayama with these isometric exercises for maximum benefits.

Lunge posture in Sun Salutations: The knee should be right above the ankle during this posture. When the knee is more forward than the ankle, this can cause premature wear of soft tissue within the knee joint.

The only exception to this is when the back knee is on the floor, as this takes pressure off the forward knee. However, if a Yoga student has an existing knee ailment, or is prone to knee problems, the knee should stay directly above the ankle and not beyond it. This may be considered very cautious by some teachers, but Hatha Yoga teachers are supposed to teach restraint and safety during asana practice, at all times.

As a Yoga teacher, your form might be very good, but you will still need to correct all student alignment problems when they arise. In Warrior II, some of your students will need to be reminded to keep the back arm level. It feels normal to them when the back arm is lower.

Tree Pose: Are some of your students are pressing the foot against the side of the knee on the balancing leg? The knee is not designed to take pressure from the side. This could cause premature wear over time. The foot should always be above, or below, the side of the knee - and never to the side.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications


To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable courses, including our affordable online yoga teacher training intensive courses, 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!

Yoga Teacher Tips: More Common Yoga Student Corrections

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Always remember that it is better to be accused of being too cautious, than it is to be accused of negligence within a court of law. The Yoga teacher who is too safe can always find another teaching assignment. Below are some common problems that Yoga teachers should address for the safety of their students.

Spinal Rock: The eyes should focus on your heels, or navel, if possible. This causes the whole spine to round off and “roll like a ball,” as opposed to “crashing” off the floor. Rolling back should only go to the shoulders. Some Yoga students will be injured if they are not cautioned about rolling back on their necks.

During your Sun Salutation, or Vinyasa Sequence, where you perform a Monkey posture, which is also known as, “Flat Back,” the body should take the shape of an inverted “L.” The best way to master this posture is to draw, and elongate your spine, in a straight line, parallel to the floor. A mirror, or knowledgeable Yoga teacher, would be a big help for developing alignment.

You should caution your students about the jump backs on Sun Salutations, or Vinyasa Sequences. Anyone with a back condition can make it worse with the jump back or the jump forward; the reason being that when your feet land on the floor, the shock of the movement goes into the lower spine.

A similar movement we know as the “squat thrust” was contra-indicated by the American Orthopedic Association, a few years ago. This movement is the same as the squat thrusts. Many Yoga teachers are very familiar with this movement from Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles, however, beware that each student is put at risk – no matter how good their back feels today.

In Warrior I, please make sure that your Yoga student’s back foot is turned in 45 degrees.
When the hip rotates forward, in the direction of the forward foot, this puts torque on the back knee. If a student has the back foot out at 90 degrees, this is a great deal of torque, and can cause premature wear within the soft tissue of the knee. It does not matter if this posture has been done this way for 5,000 years - when it can cause injury to a single student.

Upward Dog – Watch for locking elbows – if so, please allow for a slight crack in the student’s elbow joint, as the lockout will cause premature wear to his or her elbow joint.

Downward Dog – Sometimes there is a slight amount of bouncing going on in this posture. You want to make sure that your Yoga students slowly drop into position, without any bouncing. The reason is that bouncing is a “ballistic stretch” and can cause micro tears in the muscle tissue, which will result in less protection of the nearby joint.

Cobbler Pose – The same bouncing ballistic stretch that can cause micro tears in the muscle tissue occurs when the knees bounce up and down. If you have a Yoga student who does this - stop him or her immediately.

Lastly, challenge your students to be the best they can be, but never put a single Yoga student in harm’s way. A Yoga teacher is primarily supposed to guide his or her students toward consistent healthy living.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications


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