Friday, July 21, 2006

What Should a Hatha Yoga Teacher Know? – Part 5


By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Competent Yoga teachers should have enough knowledge to work with special populations. This includes students with disabilities, seniors, and many more specialized groups with physical limitations. The reason is that Hatha Yoga is a health maintenance system, but some people only look at the superficial aspects.

If a Yoga teacher is only capable of instructing elite athletes who are 16 to 25 years of age, that’s wonderful. However, such a Yoga teacher should accept the title of “Yoga fitness coach,” as this is a limited method for teaching Yoga students.

As Yoga teachers, we always remember the students who can turn their bodies into pretzels, but that is not all there is to Hatha Yoga. If Yoga were a physical competition, we could invite some top gymnasts to teach classes and retire from teaching Yoga because we were too old to perform feats that impress a crowd.

This is not meant to imply disrespect to young gymnasts, martial artists, dancers, or any other highly trained athlete. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge, effort, work, and time that is involved in their specific training. Therefore, the same can be said for Yoga; since teaching Yoga requires in-depth knowledge and training.

Some of the children, I have trained, around 10 years of age are capable of performing amazing asanas with fantastic form. Should they be teaching Hatha Yoga to the rest of us? By now, I hope you understand my point.

Many Yoga teachers work with special populations because it challenges the mind. You have to research ailments, consult with other Yoga teachers, and find solutions to problems. This might be frustrating to a Yoga teacher who wants to show what he or she can physically do.

Therefore, a Yoga teacher who has not matured much past “showing off” should not be teaching Yoga to special populations. As long as he or she doesn’t hurt any elite athletes, everything should be fine. Some Yoga teachers are capable of working with the young and the old Yoga students, within the course of a week, but this is not usually the case.

The key ingredients for teaching Yoga to special populations are compassion, patience, understanding, and maturity. When Yoga teachers work with these groups, we always remember the fantastic comebacks Yoga students made from a stroke, heart attack, ailment, disease, trauma, or a special condition.

To be in the presence of a positively charged human spirit is an amazing feeling. This is what usually happens when Yoga students, who the world might have given up on, make a come back from a near death experience. These very special Yoga students will never be forgotten due to their indomitable spirit.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications


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

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What should a Hatha Yoga Teacher Know? – Part 3

hatha yoga teacher certification session
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Niyamas are the ethical observances of Yoga. Yoga teachers should know them by heart and they do not conflict with any law or religion.

Shaucha: To put it simply be clean in hygiene, diet, and behavior. Hygiene and a Sattvic diet can become a daily ritual, but avoiding unhealthy or unclean thought is a daily challenge. This means controlling angry thoughts, angry actions, and suppressing the ego as much as humanly possible.

Santosha: This is commonly considered to be contentment, but it is also acceptance of life as it is. This is most difficult to attain in societies where material gain is the number one objective. Acceptance does not mean giving up but accepting what we cannot control. When we realize there is much in life that we cannot control we open the door to inner peace.

Tapas: When we think of Tapas the first word that comes to mind is austerity. This is fine but Tapas is way of life based on fortitude, perseverance, dedication, discipline, and regular Yoga practice put into action.

Tapas will produce results, but may require you to practice Yoga or do something good for another person, when it is much easier to eat a chocolate doughnut. One of the biggest problems with the world today is the lack of commitment toward goals.

Swadhyaya: This is taking the time to study sacred scriptures of your specific religion. The answers to all your spiritual questions can be found within them. You do not have to change your religion, but the more you read from your own religion’s scriptures, the more ways you can learn to appreciate people who practice a different religion.

If you take the time, you will see commonality in the principles of all the major religions. Jesus said, "Do to others what you would have them do to you." All of the world’s religions have a similar saying, but who really puts the words into practice and action? Only an enlightened person would make a statement such as: "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." This statement was made by Mohammed.

Therefore reading, and studying Holy Scriptures mean nothing if you do not take positive action from what you learn. All of the scriptures tell us to live in peace. The worst crime against humanity is when a political or religious leader preaches hate and incites war or killing.

Ishwara Pranidhana: Acknowledge God as a supreme being by whatever name you are familiar with. Pray daily and actively participate in your religion.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What Should a Hatha Yoga Teacher Know? – Part 1

how to become a certified hatha yoga instructor
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Most of the time, prospective teachers have a very strong foundation in Yoga, but sometimes they originally come from a related field like martial arts, Pilates, dance, gymnastics, or fitness. This is fine, but be prepared for a “learning curve” and do not expect to learn all about Yogic methodology and philosophy in one Yoga instructor certification course. Even if you “lock yourself up” in an ashram for years, you should realize that learning Yogic philosophy and methodology is a life-long journey and not a race.

Now, if you come from a related field; you have a lot more mental work to do than a long-time student of Yoga. Hatha Yoga is physical form of Yogic methodology, but being athletic is not as important as the knowledge a teacher should possess. So, what should you know in order to become a Yoga teacher? Below is the beginning of what a Hatha teacher should know in order to successfully teach classes.

I can remember one anxious intern at orientation night who became upset over the fact that we were outlining Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. After one hour, she announced that she strongly felt that all she wanted to learn was how to do hundreds of poses. Although there are many more aspects to learn, some interns are very anxious to learn about asanas (postures). For this reason, anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology should always be covered during a Hatha Yoga teacher training course. Student safety is especially an important issue for those who will be teaching Yoga.

Students are always physically different and Hatha Yoga practice can be made to adapt to anyone; regardless of age or physical ability. Anyone who desires to teach Yoga should have a complete understanding of how the physical body works.

Asanas are the postures held during Yoga practice. Hatha Yoga instructors do not have to know hundreds of asanas to teach a class, but they should be very familiar with 26 to 100 different postures; depending upon the style they teach. Yoga teachers should be able to design a lesson plan using these postures, their variations, and the many other aspects of teaching.

Yoga teachers should know how to modify asanas for their students. Sometimes this could be advising a student in how to use a block, strap, bolster, chair, ball, blanket, or any other prop for proper alignment and safety. Other times, this might be giving a student an alternative variation of an asana.

Yoga teachers should be familiar with contraindications for asanas; which are cautions that can be related to a specific posture. This is very important when working with students who are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or have a specific ailment.

Yoga teachers should take the time to be familiar with each student and his or her particular health condition. This means researching health conditions that students have and staying on top of your own continuing education. After becoming familiar with an ailment; learn how you can help, but never give medical advice.

No teacher should ever put a student at risk. The body of a Yoga student cannot be forced into a position that a teacher feels is correct. Instead the body is gently guided to its natural limits, without pain or discomfort.

© 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 intensive 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!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: The Philosophy of Abundance

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

Is abundance just a covert word for “money?” Can money be used for a good cause? Do you wonder why some Yoga Teachers, Gurus, and Swamis frown on the idea of teachers “talking up” the concept of practicing Yoga for abundance?

The reason is quite simple: Most people think of material wealth first. Why? This is an example of survival instinct, and money is a part of survival; but there are many more types of abundance for Yoga students to learn about beside money.

Physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional abundance are worthy of note, but the desire for a better life, by acquiring material wealth, is hard to put out of one's mind. Let’s look at each aspect of abundance from a Hatha Yoga student’s point of view.

Physical abundance could be seen as physical prowess. This is why Hatha Yoga has become so popular outside of India. When a new student becomes proficient in Hatha Yoga, he or she feels better almost immediately; sometimes to the point of ego bolstering and this is not a direction for Yoga teaching to take.

The physical senses are our most primal and can be realized without any difficulty. Your friends, family, and coworkers may even notice the changes that are happening to your body due to Hatha Yoga practice. When teaching Hatha Yoga classes, remind your students to keep their egos in place.

Mental abundance can easily be seen as intelligence. However, a person’s intelligence cannot be demonstrated, unless it is successfully projected and proven through the use of good communication skills. Union by knowledge, which we know as Jnana Yoga, will also require much more work than most people would initially think, and communication is a necessary skill required in order to share knowledge.

Sadly, spiritual abundance is becoming rare in some cultures. The spiritual connection cannot be seen, but can be felt. Unfortunately, we try to measure the spiritual world with scientific instruments from our physical world.

How can you scientifically measure the power of prayer or the benefits of prayer? How does science explain miracles? Science often remains baffled to explain miracles or claims miracles do not exist. Science cannot test, measure or explain the spiritual plane of existence. 

Science and technology are useful in improving the quality of life. On the other hand, science and technology have also created the “virtual world” of video games. Science would verify the virtual world exists because we can see it and measure it.

Emotional abundance is most often taken for granted. Our family and friends provide security, but we wish for more material wealth. When death or illness knocks at our door, all the money in the world may not be enough.

If you have emotional abundance, you are truly rich. When you have material wealth, emotional abundance may be very hard to find because you do not know who your friends really are. Money attracts people, but those people might not have friendship in mind. Many of the financially wealthy are givers, and there will always be someone who wants to take advantage of it.

Now, you see that abundance is many things, but the most valuable treasures in life can be attained by the financially poor. If, or when, you mention abundance in a Yoga class, start with the most important forms of abundance first. If you find yourself with too much material abundance, give the excess to a worthy cause.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications


To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of affordable certification courses, including our 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!