Saturday, December 29, 2007

Teaching Hatha Yoga: Explaining the Law of Karma to Yoga Students

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Recently, a Yoga teacher intern asked, if it would be better to avoid action, so that no bad reaction would occur as a result of the initial action. In Yoga classes, many of us have learned that Karma means “action.” Sometimes, the simple explanation of the Law of Karma is, “What goes around comes around.”

To say it in another way: The results of our actions will produce effects, which will be good or bad. Most people do not stop to think: Inaction will also produce effects, which will be good or bad. If we “sit still” all of our lives, we will still create a good or bad situation.

With that said, why should we ever give up? In this life, successful outcomes usually require action. If we sit on our hands as a lifestyle, we should not be surprised if all of our wishes do not come to pass. Additionally, sitting on one's hands as a lifestyle makes us dependent upon the actions of others.

The Yogic formula for actions, you take, is quite simple. Every thought, in your mind becomes an image. You describe the images you visualize in words. At this point, it is helpful to write them down the old fashioned way or on a computer. Ponder a few the words until they become a mantra.

When you ponder the words, which you have written, or think, long enough, you will begin to take action. When you repeatedly take the same actions, toward the same objective, you will create a new habit. Habits change your personality and your daily routine.

Your personality will determine the outcome of your destiny. This entire process requires action. Constant inaction can change your personality, but who wants to make laziness a major part of their character? Who wants to establish a reputation as a lazy person?

Granted, there are times, in life, when we must be silent and stop taking action. When our children learn to take responsibility, we must let them. We cannot “tie their shoes” for their entire lives. The principle is the same in any organization.

In companies, we learn about delegating authority. This may seem harsh, if you are sweeping the floor, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) does not have the spare time to sweep the floor, and it is doubtful that he or she monitors the person who does sweep the floor. In fact, the person who sweeps the floor has usually taken action without much coaxing.

The main reason for inaction is fear of making a mistake. Yet, mistakes will enhance our learning process, and make us stronger for the experience. Whether you teach Yoga, or are a Yoga student, each day of your life, decisions have to be made by you.

Use your best judgment, get advice from people of good character, make morally sound decisions, and take action. You do not have to live a stressful lifestyle over decision making. Learn from each situation and move forward. This is just one aspect of the Law of Karma.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yoga Therapy for Increasing Self-Worth

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Yoga practice has been an aide to mankind for thousands of years. In those thousands of years, many brilliant people, who had a lack of self-worth, have taken their innovative ideas with them to the next life. Their ideas could have advanced our species at a faster rate, but they did not take a chance.

You see - the most brilliant minds do not reach full potential, if they lack self-worth. Most of us are not born with self-confidence. Self-confidence and self-worth are usually a result of a particular learning method, and Yoga training is the 5,000 year old mother of all of these methods.

Right now, a lack of self-confidence could be critical to our species, as we keep heating up the planet by burning fossil fuel. If an inventor finds an environmentally safe solution, but lacks the self-esteem to follow through, a brilliant idea remains “locked up in the vault” of his or her mind. Self-doubt is a mental state of self-imprisonment.

The Power of Words

Yoga has many solutions for restoring or creating self-worth. Yoga practice enables millions of practitioners to safely stabilize their mental and emotional health. Let’s look at mantra, japa, affirmation, or prayer, for building self-confidence and self-worth.

Depending upon which type of Yoga you study, you may learn mantra, japa, affirmations, or prayers, in class. These are very powerful filtering tools for the mind. When you practice mantra, japa, affirmations, or prayers, you allow only positive messages and images to enter your mind.

If you learn to practice any of these methods in your mind, your self-worth is restored, because they instill hope. There is always hope, if we are willing to look for it. Look at a depressed person, and you will see an inner lack of hope, which reflects outward.

Practical Application

If we say to ourselves: “I cannot do it,” how can we build our self-worth? Why should the outside world believe in us?

Here is an example of an affirmation for self-worth: I will change today with my first step. I will take chances. I will not fear criticism.

An inherent fear within all humans is the fear of being criticized. This one fear prevents brilliant ideas from becoming reality. Even some of the most brilliant minds had to overcome self-doubt. Yet, they believed in themselves, despite criticism from others.

There are many forms of mantra, japa, and prayer, but all of them develop self-empowerment. Each of these practices is different from the other. Through these practices, you can purge negativity, balance your emotions, build self-worth, and lower your stress levels.

If one practices mantra often enough, a state of “Mantra Siddhi” becomes realized. Mantra Siddhi results when the power of the mantra has come to fruition. It is said that 125,000 repetitions of a mantra will result in Mantra Siddhi.

To say the very least, the repetition of any idea, would result in positive action, on your part, toward your objective. Action, on your part, is required to build or restore self-worth.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yoga Myth: Advanced Physical Prowess

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

There are many myths which surround Yoga. Most of them are circulated by people who have never practiced Yoga of any kind. Yet, there are some myths about Yogic practices, which have been accepted as fact, by seasoned practitioners. It is difficult to shatter an “urban legend, but let’s look at one of them.

“An advanced Yogi can perform amazing postures and feats of physical prowess.”

While this can be true, and Hatha Yoga practice can lead to physical mastery, feats of physical prowess can be performed by young people, who never practiced any form of Yoga before. Please bear in mind that there are many forms of Yoga, which are not based upon physical exercise.

Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga, are primary forms of Yoga, which have advanced practitioners, who do not have to perform physical feats to be known as “advanced.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was an advanced Karma Yogi, who inspired non-violent civil rights movements within India, and around the world.

The flaw in all of this “labeling” of Yoga practitioners as advanced, intermediate, and beginner, stems from the idea that Yoga is only a physical exercise. Pilates and weight lifting are physical exercise systems, and they require a mental presence in their practice. All forms of Yoga require a mental, physical, and spiritual presence in the practice.

Hatha (union by physical mastery) does not represent all forms of Yoga. If Hatha Yoga were the only style in existence, it still would require teachers with experience and deep knowledge on a vast subject.

Any child can perform amazing athletic feats of flexibility, but would you place your absolute faith in the ability of a child to teach you Hatha Yoga? Would you be concerned about your safety, your physical limits, and the teacher’s experience level?

“Experience” is a keyword, because experience is what really separates the advanced practitioner from the rest. An experienced Hatha Yoga teacher will guide you through the many aspects of Yogic methodology, such as: Asana, Meditation, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, Yama, Niyama, and much more.

If you are practicing in a Hatha-based class, which contains postures, but does not contain meditation or Pranayama, you are probably practicing “Yoga Fitness.” There is a saying: “Half a loaf is better than none.” This has never been truer than it is in the case of Hatha Yoga’s exposure to the world.

It may take generations before most practitioners stop to read the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Swatmarama. The Yoga Sutras, by Maharshi Patanjali, also deserve more contemporary attention. At this time, there are many beautiful books to read, but the classics are worthy of note, and should be “required reading” for advanced Yoga practitioners.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Practicing Mantra in every day activity

                                              By Bhavan Kumar

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The mantra can be any positive affirmation but should be short and easily repeated. It could be Jesus, Buddha, Krishna - or a secular phrase my mind is free, etc. Any suitable mantra is good and beneficial.

What the mantra does

The mind is in constant turmoil in most people's lives. You are thrown into a multitude of stress situations daily and are susceptible to react to these negatively. Quantity is not important but the devotee should aim for about 3000 to 5000 repetitions of the mantra over a day especially before meditation and retiring for the evening, this is called Japam. Japam is the cornerstone of all serious meditators. The mantra clears the thoughts of negative and destructive influences and is a wonderful de toxification exercise for the whole being.

How and when can I practice the mantra?

When I was in an ashram we practiced Japam in our every day work. For example washing the dishes one can complete 200 mantra or digging the garden etc. but of course you must be meticulous in your work and study. In general people washing plates do it automatically and think of many thoughts mostly negative and somewhere in the future or dwelling in the past.

Japam is for the present. When I am out jogging or cycling I repeat my mantra for every turn of the pedals or step in jogging. As a student I used to box and when punching the bag every punch was a mantra. You can use your imagination and planning to incorporate the mantra into your own particular activity. You will find after some time peace and a great benefit.

Missed the transport and have to wait 20 minutes to an hour

The normal reaction to this situation is to mutter a sigh of boredom. However, one who has as a daily habit meditation treats this as a great unhindered opportunity and acts positively to practice the mantra. Furthermore if you can have a seat whilst waiting you can practice Paul’s Aura Chair Yoga which is splendid as well. On a long train journey much can be accomplished. Forget your mobile phones and fidgeting with the keys. Yoga will refresh you in every way. Moblile phones do the opposite.

Counting of the mantra

You can count on the phalanges of the fingers using the thumb. Starting with the middle phalange of the ring finger of the right hand we progress to the lower phalange and thereafter proceed clockwise round the outside phalanges and we have ten mantra in this way. We can have a count of ten in the left hand. You may use beads or indeed just repeat over a time period.

Method of counting is not important JUST PRACTICE JAPAM

I do hope you give this a try and the results are not immediate but after some years the benefits accrue as is common to all Yoga Practices. Yoga is not a quick fix; it is a slow percolation of practice with devotion and intensity.

Side Note: The mantra should be done in quiet not audible just in the mental repetition, and it is a good idea to incorporate syllable AUM at the start and finish. Eg Aum Padmi Mani Aum is a well known mantra.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Communication Skills for Yoga Teachers

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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When Yoga teachers gather in a workshop to hear a lecture about communication - what is the first topic that comes to mind? Is it cueing skills, voice inflection, or when to ask a student for permission to assist? Those are important issues for anyone who teaches Yoga, but let’s take a look at many more areas that could use some work.

Communication is a two way street. How can we exchange ideas if students are made to feel “stupid” for asking questions? Granted, Yoga classes cannot operate like an open forum, if you have a lesson plan in mind, but a student who is experiencing pain should not have to feel bad for asking about it. Nor should he or she have to wait until the end of class to ask an impatient teacher about his or her pain.

Listen Empathically: When a student asks a Yoga-related question during class time, the Yoga instructor present, should listen to all of the details. There are times when a Yoga student asks questions, which are on the mind of many more classmates.

For some students, it takes a lot of courage to ask a question in a group setting. Some students ponder questions for days before asking them. Their heart rate may rise because it took courage to ask the question.

With all this said, listening is a primary communication skill. As a Yoga teacher, you are respected by your students, so do not violate a trust by bolstering your ego. The key is to listen intently, because you may have questions of your own, which will result in a deeper answer.

Who becomes a Yoga student’s best teacher during Hatha Yoga practice? His or her body, and mind, must eventually be the best Yoga teacher. If not, we have failed to give our students the gift of self-realization. To go further: Students must learn to think for themselves. If they are dependent on a Yoga teacher, all the time, then our teaching method is flawed.

Why do I say this? If a student is not present for Yoga practice, we must make him or her gently aware of it. There is no need to make students dependent on us. Good students will always return to Yoga class.

Yoga must still be practiced after our students have rolled up their mats. Breathing, walking, talking, eating, posturing, and acting with mindfulness, is the sign of a Yoga practitioner. All of the amazing physical feats are nice, but any flexible Pilates student, dancer, gymnast, or martial artist, could do the same.

Who are some of the best teachers a Yoga instructor could have? The answer should not surprise you, but it is our students who create the best Yoga teacher from within us. Consider this: Random questions develop complete knowledge of any given subject.

Yoga students are full of questions, so let them ask, and you will find. Yoga students often have a “fresh view” of Yoga. We cannot easily absorb new ideas with a preconceived perspective of a given subject. Yoga students have no set of preconceived notions about Yoga

Socrates once said, “I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance.” If he could be such a humble teacher about the subject of life, who are we to feel so comfortable with our knowledge on the subject of Yoga? Allow Yoga-related questions during class time, and everyone will be richer for the experience.

It is true that some Yoga teachers have found their niche by suppressing student thought, but this is not Yoga, and it is all about control. The sad fact is - Yoga students, who seek out abusive teacher / student relationships are magnetized to dogmatic personalities and have voluntarily chosen to be in the relationship.

These same primal behavior patterns run parallel to their relationships at home, in work, and in their social lives. This is unfortunate, but all of us have a place in this life, and some people crave the negative attention of an “alpha personality.” If you observe a wolf pack, you can see much similar behavior.

Getting back to communication skills - Yoga teachers, who masterfully explain concepts through cueing, voice inflection, demonstration, and assisting, have taken the time to practice the art of communication. Seasoned Yoga instructors are not good at what they do by accident. Time spent in front of a crowd, or a mirror, causes us to look within and communicate effectively.

Knowing the audience is a valuable skill every Yoga teacher should take the time to learn. What are the interests of your Yoga students? What parts of the lesson plan raise their level of motivation? Do you feel a stir of excitement or anticipation at certain points in your Yoga class? Even if none of them says a word, you can still read “body language.”

When students feel the beneficial aspects of your Yoga class, it is “written all over their faces.” Develop your intuition, but do not drive yourself crazy. If you are still not sure what motivates your students, it is time to ask them some tactful questions.

A sample question, about one subject, might be: “Do you see the benefit of practicing Revolved Triangle now?” If they do not give you an answer, you can list the skeletal benefits to the hips, spine, shoulders, and legs. You can list the muscles, which are strengthened and stretched.

You could also mention the particular internal organs, which are massaged and cleansed. Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana), like many Asanas, has many physical benefits, but it develops mental strength, as well. The student / teacher relationship is a “think tank.” Allow your students to participate completely, and the proficiency level of your entire school will be raised.

Ponder these words of Jesus: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” The answers to all of our questions are right in front of us, if we remember this.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

If you are a 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 copyright above. Namaste, Paul

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Purpose of Yoga: Finding Yourself

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Some people claim to find themselves after practicing Yoga faithfully - but how can this be? Yoga is an art of living. In fact, Yoga is a 5,000 year old archive of solutions for the many forms of suffering, which plague mankind.

What causes most of mankind’s suffering? A lack of “something” can cause suffering. Which is worse: Lack of food, lack of water, lack of a job, or lack of good health? All of them are bad, and some of these situations are potentially fatal.

We now know that lack of something critical can cause serious suffering. Lack of oxygen will shorten our lives in minutes.

Many people blame lack of money for all of their suffering. If they had a million dollars, then they would be able to enjoy their family and their life.

Yet, most of the world’s rich and famous do not really seem to be living in a state of bliss. For them, money and power can be the source of their suffering. True intentions in business, relationships, marriages, and friendships, can be murky when money and power are at stake.

However, lack of thought is a common thread in many types of suffering. If you fall into a lake, with water over your head, and think you are finished - you will be. If you think losing your job is the end of the world - it might be. The real problem is not having a solution to the problem at hand.

It is also very difficult to come up with solutions to problems, without the proper training. Yet, Yoga trains your mind and body for logical thinking in a variety of critical situations.

If you are able to handle any situation that “comes your way,” your mind and body have been trained, conditioned, and prepared, for most of what life has to offer. It is not a coincidence when someone responds to a stressful situation with logical solutions and answers.

Being able to react to problems, with solutions, will also help you find that a problem could be the gateway to a better life. How is that possible?

Here is just one example: Mary has a “dead end job.” She has worked for her company for three years. She never gets a raise. She shows up to work on time, every day, never takes time off, and she works overtime, when she is asked.

Mary is ethical, honest, respected by her fellow workers, and has positive suggestions, but management does not care, and they have promoted less qualified people “over her head.”
She has many choices, even if she does not see them. She could wait for her wage to go up. She could also wait for recognition. She could wait for an opening in another department. Do you believe Mary will be rewarded by waiting?

Based on the company’s performance, it is highly unlikely that Mary will ever be promoted, appreciated, noticed, or rewarded. Mary’s best solution might be to work at another company, which will appreciate her skills and work ethic - or work for herself.

This solution may seem logical to you and I, but for Mary, this is a “great leap forward.” Unless her mind is conditioned, she will stay at her present job, hoping for success, but receiving only frustration and regret.

In truth, Mary will benefit from a Yoga class, where she will find self-worth, confidence, and build a better self-image. Yoga practice will create a true self-realization of her value at work, in life, and at home.

Mary decides to react to this situation, with a logical solution, and finding the right job, results in a 15% to 70% wage increase at a company, which appreciates her skills and character.
She saw going into business as too risky, but Mary is finding herself, and her family will benefit as a result of her solution.

© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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The Purpose of Yoga: Building Self-Image

By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Many times, Yoga teachers refer to the inner self or the observer from within. In a class, you may be instructed to observe without judgment, but how can we stop judging? We judge things all day long.

If you drive a car, you are judging timing, distance, and speed. In this case, judging is a matter of life and death, which concerns you, other drivers, and pedestrians. You have to judge, whether you like it or not, but you are told not to judge yourself in a Yoga class or during a meditation session.

Who do we judge the most harshly in the course of a typical day? For most of us, self-criticism is a large part of the day. We call ourselves uncomplimentary names. We do not forgive ourselves for past mistakes. We forget that we learn from mistakes and we create a negative self-image.

So how does the Yogi or Yogini get in touch with the inner being? This is a journey toward spiritual clarity, where any person can travel. Look at yourself and observe the two sides of your inner being. You can use a mirror, but I would suggest you use a piece of paper and a pen.

When training Yoga teachers, I have found that compiling lists allow them to be impartial. We can classify our traits and qualities as negative or positive, but the “big picture” is not always so clear, because some negative qualities may bring about positive results. The opposite can also be said.

Some people may talk too much, but talking has put them in a prestigious position. Other people do not speak up enough, but they have always “played it safe,” and have no worries.

Karma is not always clear to see. Which trait or path is right, and which is wrong, is not crystal clear, but when you design your list, you may want to have three categories. These categories are positive, neutral, and negative.

Neutral allows for a “gray area,” because life is not simply “black and white.” It may look that way to a child, but as a child learns more, each issue takes on more gray area.

When you classify your personal traits and qualities, you can see what you lack, and you can praise yourself for what you already have. It is most important to see what you have and appreciate it, before going after what you do not have.

When you decide to make positive changes, you may want to focus on one change at a time. Most people cannot learn to appreciate themselves overnight, but you can be thankful for your good qualities and then go after a vital trait to build your self image.

Yoga teaches us to listen from within and to appreciate what we have right now.

© Copyright - Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Purpose of Yoga – Taking Control of Your Life

taking control of your life
By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Yoga teaches us how to make life changes from within. Within all Yoga styles are the tools of self-realization and transformation. Once a Yoga practitioner has managed to empower him or herself, a positive direction will become the easiest path to follow.

Everyone is subject to outside pressures, even adults. There is always somebody who is willing to give you advice you did not ask for. When we are children, we think that outside pressure will stop, when we are “grown up;” we will be independent and in control of our lives.

As young adults, we soon find out that we have limited control of our lives, when there is always someone to answer to, in the form of a parent, college professor, supervisor, customer, drill sergeant, or someone else. In fact, we have limited control because we do not control nature.

How can Yoga empower you to take control of your life? How can you stop others from attempting to control your life? Let’s look at how Yoga can help you to create your own manifestations and change your destiny for the best.

Do you ever have a co-worker who enjoys making others feel inferior? Consider this: We have to give permission to those who insult us, in order for them to make us feel less worthy. Without our permission, they hold no power over us.

If you believe that your existence is a problem, mistake, or error, then you really do have troubles. Self-doubt leads to self-defeat. Yet, all is not lost - because, in this case, the trouble can be found and purged from within you.

The solution to this problem is also within you. Once you understand that you have to respect your own self-image at all times, you will manifest positive energy from within. You must forgive yourself for past mistakes, make positive changes, and never speak poorly of yourself. You will receive nothing by thinking less of yourself, and you will leave the door open for those who feel gratification in your unhappiness.

About people who want to control you: Remember the saying, “Just say, ‘No’.” Many people feel that life is not so simple, but “No” can be a powerful word, which prevents complications and trouble. You do not have to feel obligated to every request - just because somebody asks you.

This is not a “free pass” to refuse people in need, but you should use your best judgment about how you will spend your time and energy. Yogic philosophy teaches us to live in the moment, while performing acts of mindfulness, loving kindness, and forgiveness.

It is easy enough to waste time and energy, without experiencing peer pressure along the way. The correct path is universal, and your heart is your best guide.

© Copyright - Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Patenting Yoga - A Crime against Humanity

By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

What’s next; will we have to pay a toll to meditate? How can it be morally correct to gain a US patent on a 5,000 year old system founded in India? Who should have the right to claim Yoga?
What about the “cultural heritage of the Indian people?” It is obvious to see, Yoga is definitely part of the heritage of Indian culture.

Most of us believe that the theft of intellectual property is wrong, but let us combine this wrong, with theft of someone else’s cultural heritage for profit.

According to the Times of India, “The US Patent and Trademark office has reportedly issued 150 Yoga-related copyrights, 134 trademarks on Yoga accessories, and 2,315 Yoga trademarks.”

As a result, the Indian government has organized a group to gather Sanskrit and Tamil texts, which will catalog Yogic techniques and Ayurvedic medicine in multiple languages, to prevent patents of Yoga and Ayurveda. This action would make information about Yoga, and Ayurveda, more accessible to patent offices around the world.

What can happen if corporations buy up every Yoga technique? It seems silly to think about, but would we be obligated to pay royalties, or negotiate rights, to perform an Asana or Pranayama sequence?

One Yoga teacher, Bikram Choudhary, copyrighted a 26 Yoga posture (Asana) sequence, which he claimed as his own. Yet, most “hot Yoga” teachers, and hot Yoga studios, around the world, perform the same sequence, without paying him a dime. How do you police an Asana sequence?

Consider this: If you buy the patent to Brahmari Pranayama, how do you manage to keep track of who is performing it in every corner of the earth? The idea is ludicrous, and the patent is not really enforceable.

Yoga is a complex subject and some people are still trying to grasp what Yoga is. Some people think Yoga is exercise. I suppose you could patent an exercise, but it has never been a successful business strategy to patent an exercise.

Every time you trademark an exercise, another person will label it as something similar, but not the same. You cannot stop everyone in the world from doing push-ups because you bought the trademark and patent.

However, Yoga is not an exercise. Yoga is the unity of mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health, for the improvement of all mankind. Yoga is a philosophy, a science, a health maintenance system, and the “Mother of all self-improvement systems.” Yoga is just too vast a subject to try to own it.

The purchasing of Yoga patents is a lesson in futility. Should we buy patents for mantras, breathing, good posture, and eating right? Those are also valuable components of Yoga, but one component of Yoga is not all of Yoga. Yoga is composed of many parts. Maharishi Patanjali wrote that Yoga is composed of eight limbs in his Yoga Sutras.

According to Swami Ramdev, "Yoga can't be owned and run like a company. Since there are attempts to patent this tradition (of Yoga) in America, the Centre and Yoga organizations should take measures to prevent it."

He is not the only Guru who is disturbed by the patenting of Yoga. This is disturbing to most Yoga practitioners and Yoga teachers. So, what can the rest of us do about it? We can take action by writing, Emailing, and faxing our law makers.

Stop the foolishness – Say, “No,” to Yoga patents.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Teaching Hatha Yoga: Difficult Students and Fitness Centers

difficult students
By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

What would you do if you had to substitute your Yoga class for an Aerobic Step class? What if one of the Step Aerobics students gave you a case of misplaced aggression because he or she was disappointed the Step Aerobics class was canceled?

If you are considering teaching Yoga in a fitness center, or health club; imagine the following situation. A Power Yoga teacher is called, by the fitness center she works for - to substitute her Power Yoga class for the regular Step Aerobics Class; this is her story.

“This morning I substituted for another fitness class and had a woman
literally scowl, once she found out that Yoga was filling in the time slot for
the Step Aerobics class. She looked at me, and said, that it wasn't against me,
but she just didn't see the point in stretching. "I can't loose weight by
stretching. I need cardio."

I told her that she might be surprised and she might see Yoga in a
different light. She replied "Not likely," and walked away from me. Though she
said it wasn't personal, I took it so.

I really thought hard about all the things I wanted to say, but found
that everything I wanted to say had a negative tone. I told this person, as she
walked away that I was not going to argue with her because I saw no point in it.

I felt hurt by her attitude, what can be said to people like this? What
can I do to let it "roll off of me?" Can you respond in love and still get the
point across?”

Let’s find some realistic solutions for this Yoga teacher.

In a nutshell: This particular health club member is full of negative energy. You are doing your job by substituting for the Step Aerobics class. She decides to take it out on you, but it is all misplaced aggression. She would have acted the same way toward anyone teaching anything, except a cardio based fitness class.

Fitness centers are doing the best they can to serve their clients, on tight budgets. This particular fitness center wants to make sure there is a class for its members, because the Step Aerobics instructor is out. This is obvious, but, this person decides to attack what you do - just to lash out at somebody.

What you did is the best thing by avoiding an argument. Showing loving kindness was wise for many reasons. Management will usually back the members, no matter how obnoxious they are.

Many Yoga instructors currently teach Yoga in, or have taught Yoga at, fitness centers, in the past. When a racquetball court is in full swing, a fitness center is not always an ideal place to teach meditation.

My advice: Design a prepared handout, which highlights the researched benefits of Power Yoga. Some fitness center clientele don't understand what Yoga is or what it can do for them.

Pass them out with a smile. If the class wants to work hard, give them their money's worth (a serious challenge). They will believe Power Yoga can get them fit, when they can see and feel it.

Those scenarios are the reasons why some Yoga teachers do not teach in fitness centers anymore. When I teach Yoga to anyone, I want to make sure the students want to be there for Yoga.

In a health club, Yoga is just part of a big fitness menu - Like ice cream on an apple pie in a restaurant. So, very few of the members see it as something special.

Lastly, you are a Yoga teacher, but you are human too. Negative people do not think much before talking, but they do upset everyone all day and every day.

You did the right thing by displaying self-restraint. Remember the saying: “You cannot please everyone all the time.”

© Copyright - Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Office Yoga: Corporate Yoga for the Office

office yoga teacher training course
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Could Yoga training increase office productivity? Can Yoga teachers help the corporate sector? What can Office Yoga programs do for large and small businesses? Let’s look at solutions that Yogic methods can offer to the business world.

The number of office workers has increased, with the invention of the personal computer. Working excessive hours in front of a personal computer can create a multitude of back, neck, shoulder, spine, hip, and wrist problems. Muscle groups, in all of these areas, respond with tension and a variety of long-term problems - if they are ignored by office workers and management.

Forty years ago, secretaries would have been patronized for their migraines, cluster headaches, back pain, hip problems, and sore necks. Now, times are changing, and there has been much progress with ergonomics and studies which reveal new insights about the relationship of prolonged sitting to specific health problems.

A recent study, by The Medical Research Institute, in New Zealand, has revealed that office workers may be at a higher risk of developing blood clots. As most of us know, these studies are worded very tactfully, and do not jump to conclusions; however, anyone who understands body mechanics would realize that this makes perfect sense.

With that said, let’s remember that blood clots can be potentially fatal as they travel to the heart and vital organs. Blood clots can, and do, cause stroke, chest pain, and heart attack.

With larger numbers of office workers putting in extra hours of work, some “forward thinking” companies have begun to respond with office Yoga programs for their employees. Even short Office Yoga sessions can release muscle tension and alleviate the routine pains and aches, which result from prolonged sitting.

Therefore, companies, which take pro-active measures, by installing Office Yoga programs, are taking positive action toward health solutions for employees – thus, increasing productivity, while decreasing sick time, tardiness, and medical leave.

Office Yoga creates an atmosphere of decreased anxiety, less stress, positive thinking, and raises morale. Nothing is more rewarding than feeling worthy and being treated with respect. Any small company can take such action by installing an Office Yoga program.

Some companies pay a percentage for a Yoga teacher to operate an Office Yoga class, while employees pay the balance. Other companies see this as a “win-win” situation and pay for the Yoga classes in full. Regardless of how an Office Yoga program is paid for, the benefits for the corporate sector are just starting to be realized.

© Copyright Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Want to learn more about how to become a certified yoga instructor or practicing yoga as a form of therapy? Please feel free to use the resources on the right side of this page for research.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Teaching Hatha Yoga: Physical Limits of Yoga Students

500 hour yoga instructor certification program
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Have you ever seen a Yoga student who was so competitive that it caused an injury? How do you reason with a person who cannot put competitive feelings aside during a Yoga class?
Concerning students who push themselves too far - A Yoga student's number one teacher is his or her body. If the student does not listen to the body, the lowest form of awareness cannot be developed.

In this case, a student will not reach higher levels of consciousness (meditation or Samadhi) because awareness of the body is one of the fundamental steps in Yoga training. Physical awareness will eventually lead to mental and emotional awareness, at a later point, in a Yoga student’s training.

Finally, spiritual awareness will result in a “spiritual awakening.” This spiritual awakening will cause a Yoga student to connect physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, which will result in finding one’s true purpose in life.

When we find our purpose in life, we find self-worth. Now that you have seen the formula to self-worth, you must realize that none of this can happen if we are struggling back at “square one,” dealing with our ego.

Adults who cannot suppress their ego are often in touch with their inner child, but have taken a wrong turn, if they are on a path of self-improvement. It is good for adults to have some care free qualities, but we cannot afford to push our bodies like children often do.

Children commonly push their bodies too far, because they are not familiar with physical limits and their consciousness is limited, but children will usually listen to adult warnings.

When adult students physically push their bodies too far, it can cause permanent injury to a joint, and possibly, halt physical Yoga practice completely.

However, adult students do not always listen to their Yoga teacher. This is why it is important for Yoga instructors to repeatedly cue students in regard to basic contraindications for specific postures (asanas).

Sorry to say, the adult student who still continues to push the physical body too far, after repeated warnings, from his or her Yoga teacher, needs a "baby sitter." You may have to talk to a competitive student, in private, and express realistic concerns about potential injury, which can result from using force.

Unfortunately, if you have a student who does not listen to your repeated warnings, you may have to ask him or her to leave. This person should not be allowed to hurt him or herself in your Yoga class.

© Copyright Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Yoga Teacher Training: Introduction to the Yogic Energy Body

subtle body
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

In Yoga, and Ayurveda, the Yogic body is composed of three bodies. One is the physical body (sthula sharira), which we can easily see. Another is the causal body (karana sharira), which we often refer to as the soul.

The energy body (sukshma sharira), is often called the subtle, vital, or Pranic body. This is very often a mystery to many, and confusing to more, but let’s take a tour of the energy body and you will understand it much better.

If someone does not believe in the existence of the energy body - I would ask how the physical body runs without electricity. Without electricity, we would have heart failure, and very big problems, if our hearts are not restarted.

How is the heart restarted? Sometimes CPR is enough, but most often CPR helps just long enough for a defibrillator to be used to restart the heart. The defibrillator causes low voltage electric current to enter the body through paddles or patches, which are then applied to the chest.

At the atomic level, your body is full of electrons, flying all over the place, and some are flying around the body. We cannot see it, but we know it is happening. How is this? We have faith in science, but science cannot measure everything.

For centuries, Ayurvedic doctors, and doctors of Chinese medicine, mentioned the electro-magnetic body, but western medicine scoffed at the idea of it. How could there be energy meridians? Does acupuncture really work or is it a “side show?” How come the energy meridians of Chinese medicine line up with the Nadis of Ayurvedic medicine?

Time has passed, and western medicine has now started to work in harmony with Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Maybe there’s something to the Yogic energy body after all. So, what are the main parts of the Yogic energy body?

Nadis (Energy Meridians): There are 72,000 Nadis in the electro-magnetic body, which send vital energy (Prana) from one point to another. Shushumna, Ida, and Pingala are considered the most important to Yoga students - although, 14 main Nadis should covered, when this subject is covered during a Yoga teacher training intensive.

Marmas (Pressure or Energy Points): There are 107 Marmas, and some say 108, but they can be effectively treated for healing purposes. Unfortunately, they can also be considered strike points in martial arts, but these energy points correspond, regardless of the purpose.

Chakras (Energy Vortices): There are seven main chakras, which transform magnetic currents of the earth into energy of the physical body. This physical energy balances the central nervous system and the endocrine system. There are also many secondary and minor Chakras.

© Copyright - Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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