Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yoga Instructor Training: Varicose Veins


yoga teacher
By Faye Martins
Once you become a Yoga teacher, every person with a medical condition wants to find an alternative remedy for their problem. Varicose veins can be caused by a variety of problems, but much of what you learned in your initial Yoga instructor training will help.
According to statistics published by the Vascular Disease Foundation, as many as 25 million Americans have varicose veins. These unsightly bulges often appear after pregnancy and are usually a result of weak veins or ineffective valve function. Because veins work against gravity, blood pools in the extremities and puts pressure on the vascular system, creating problems for people who stand for long periods of time.
Physical exercises that squeeze arm and leg muscles help to relieve symptoms, and Yoga poses can bring relief. Inversions, especially, ease pressure on the veins by raising the legs above the heart. As with all exercises and health-related concerns, a doctor’s approval and guidance from an experienced Yoga instructor are crucial for any new practice.
Therapeutic Asanas for Varicose Veins
• Elevated Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is one of the easier inversions and a classic posture for boosting circulation. It also helps to prevent and relieve varicose veins by opening the hips.
• Seated forward bends stretch the hamstrings and relieve pain caused by varicose veins.
• Shoulder stands allow stale blood to flow from the arms and legs back to the heart, reducing strain on the veins. Some instructors recommend this pose as the single most effective posture for relieving discomfort caused by varicose veins.
• Headstands, although contraindicated in some circumstances, are considered to be the most beneficial posture in a Yoga training session. By forcing the blood to return to the heart, headstands help to prevent varicose veins.
• Cow Face Pose stretches the hips, ankles and shoulders, promotes circulation and drains blood and lymph away from the legs and back to the heart.
• Reclining Hero Pose, while not recommended for people with knee problems, relieves tired legs, improves circulation in the lower body and stretches the ankles, knees and hips.
• Corpse Pose is a resting posture that promotes total relaxation and aligns the heart with the rest of the body. It is contraindicated during the third trimester of pregnancy.  However, if you need to modify, a prenatal Yoga instructor specialist will be happy to go over all the modifications with you.
Side Notes for Yoga Teachers
In addition to these specific asanas, the practice of controlled breathing relaxes muscles and calms the autonomic nervous system, reducing vascular pressure and lowering heart rate. Recommended poses and breathing exercises vary depending on individual experience and degree of symptoms. As you should have learned in your foundational yoga teacher training, most of the recommended asanas for varicose veins are inversions which are contraindicated for high blood pressure, stroke recovery, eye problems, and heart conditions.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training and continuing education courses, please visit the following link.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Yoga Instructor Training: Sciatica


yoga instructor
By Faye Martins
Of the many ailments we may study during a yoga instructor training course, back pain and headaches are most common for the average person.  Sciatica is fairly well known among people who experience pain in the back.  Chances are you are already familiar with sciatica, a relatively common condition that occurs when a nerve root is compressed in the lower back. Although the disorder can often stems from a herniated lumbar disk, various causes can be as temporary as pregnancy or as complicated as tumors on the spine. Medical care can be difficult and lengthy, but studies show that Yoga can be an effective complementary treatment.
The sciatic nerve travels from the spinal cord through the buttocks and down the back of the legs, giving feeling to the muscles in the hips, thighs, legs, and feet. Compression of the nerve usually affects only one side of the body and may result in symptoms varying from sharp pain and numbness to tingling and problems with bladder control.
While many Yoga instructors teach asanas that can be beneficial, other asanas are contraindicated. Acceptable levels of activity vary depending on the cause of pain and the severity of symptoms, and a Yoga training session should always be supervised by an experienced instructor. With that in mind, there are specific types of poses that may hurt or help, based on individual needs.
Asanas that Help Sciatica
• Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana I)
• Bridge Pose
• Bharadvaja’s Twist
• Sage’s Pose
• Tree Pose
• Staff Pose
• Lotus Pose
• Extended Triangle Pose
• Extended Side Angle Pose
• Reclining Big Toe Pose
• Upward-Facing-Dog Pose
• Downward-Facing Dog Pose
• Mountain Pose
• Warrior I and II
• Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Five Ways to Protect the Spine
• Straighten and extend the spine in order to create distance between the disks.
• Never force the back into a forward or back bend.
• When seated, maintain a natural curve in the lower back.
• Tone and strengthen core muscles.
• Stretch hamstrings and rotator muscles to keep the pelvis moving freely.
Side Notes for Yoga Instructors
Postures that stretch the legs and strengthen core muscles help with sciatica while forward bends aggravate the condition, especially when hamstrings are tight. For these reasons, Seated Forward Bend and Head-to-Knee Forward Bends should be avoided entirely or made safer by widening the sit bones and lengthening the spine during practice. Twists can also irritate the piriformis muscle and contribute to sciatic pain.
According to proponents of Yoga therapy, exercises recommended for specific ailments should be practiced twice daily, preferably with the supervision of a competent Yoga instructor or therapist.  It is absolutely necessary that all graduates of Yoga instructor training understand the skeletal body. Anatomy should be part of every Yoga certification syllabus.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training and continuing education courses, please visit the following link.
Free report, newsletter, videos, podcasts, and e-Book: “Yoga in Practice.”
If you are a Yoga Teacher, studio 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, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yoga and Sleep


yoga before bed
By Faye Martins 

Chances are your yoga teacher isn’t with you before bedtime, unless you go directly to bed after your class.  It’s hard to fall asleep when your mind is still actively working through the events, concerns and anxieties of the day. Sometimes your body feels exhausted, but when your head hits the pillow, sleep does not come. Millions of people suffer from sleeplessness, which causes a whole host of other problems and health concerns. A good night’s sleep is imperative for a happy, healthy life. In order to help prepare the body for sleep, it’s important to take some quiet, relaxing time at the end of the day. Practicing gentle or restorative yoga before bed allows your mind and body to slow down, releases tension and prepares you for a good rest.




Asana Sequence Before Bedtime
A series of gentle asanas (poses) will encourage sleep. Set the mood by finding a dimly lit, quiet spot. Play quiet music if desired. Start with seated heart opener by sitting on your heels. Place your hands about 10 inches behind your bottom with your fingers pointing behind you. Lean your torso back, letting your head relax and your gaze focus on the ceiling. Breathe deeply and hold for about five breaths.
Slowly move into extended puppy pose by coming down onto your heels and folding forward into child’s pose. Reach your arms out in front of you, lift your forehead off the mat and push your bottom in the air. Curl your toes under to support your lower body.
Come back to a seated position for folded butterfly pose. Place the soles of the feet together and bring your heels as close to your body as possible. Hold your feet or ankles, and then fold your upper body forward to rest your head as close to your feet as possible. Hold for five deep breaths. With each breath, imagine your thoughts leaving your brain and being replaced by peace and calm.
Slowly raise your head up and extend both legs in front of you to begin a seated spinal twist. Bring one knee into the chest with the foot planted firmly on the mat. Bend your opposite arm at the elbow and twist so the elbow rests on the outside of the bent knee. Support yourself by placing the other hand on the floor behind you. Lengthen your spine and open your chest as you breathe deeply for five breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

End of Gentle Yoga Sequence

Lie flat on your back with your arms next to your body to end the series with plow pose. Bring your knees up with your feet planted firmly on the yoga mat. Swing your feet over your head so the tops of both feet rest on the mat behind you. Bend or straighten your legs as it suits you. Hold for five deep breaths.  You have the option to do relaxation in bed or sleep.  Either way, sleeping after yoga is the objective.
Side Notes for Yoga Teachers
Once again, feel free to use this routine for a handout.  One point many of us miss during yoga teacher training intensives is the value of student handouts.  If you’re currently involved in a yoga instructor training, you may want to consider this when designing an essay.  The essay you create today can be a useful handout for your yoga students tomorrow.



© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training: Tailbone Pain


yoga instructor training
By Bhavan Kumar

Like many other conditions we learn about in Yoga teacher training, pain in the tailbone can be both helped and aggravated by exercise. Although some asanas present problems, others alleviate pain and relieve inflammation. The key to success is knowing your own body and finding a good yoga instructor.

Pain in the coccyx, or tailbone, is a common condition that affects five times as many women as men. Although the disorder stems from a variety of causes ranging from falls to pregnancy, an unstable coccyx is frequently the culprit. Discomfort varies from mild to acute and is usually aggravated by sitting.

Located in the root chakra at the tip of the spine, the tailbone is closely related to the sacroiliac, or S-I, joint. Misalignment of the spine in this area can lead to emotional concerns related to the first chakra and physical pain caused by instability and stress. Difficult to diagnose and to treat, the condition can become chronic if not properly managed.

In “Yoga Journal,” author and pioneering Restorative Yoga instructor Judith Lasater recommends several practices to eliminate stress on the S-I joint and reduce tailbone pain.

Among these are the following:

• Strengthen the S-I joint and backbone with standing poses and simple backbends.
• Be aware of forward bends and other poses that stress or unlock the S-I joint.
• Don’t sit cross-legged.
• Evenly distribute weight between both legs.
• Keep feet hip-width apart in poses like Tree Pose or Warrior I.
• When doing twists, move the sacrum and pelvis together.
• Avoid poses that stretch the piriformis muscle and exercise caution with standing twists.
• Line front heel with the back heel instead of the arch when doing poses like Warrior II or Triangle.

The following Yogic techniques may help to relieve discomfort and restore mobility to the sacroiliac joint.

• Root Lock
• Child’s Pose
• Cow Pose
• Cat Pose
• Cobra Pose
• Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
• Bridge Pose
• Spinal Twist (lying on floor with knees bent)

Any asana that aggravates or worsens pain should be avoided or practiced with modifications and supervision. Some poses can be approached gradually with the help of a well-trained Yoga instructor; others may need to be avoided altogether. Moderation is the key.

Side Notes for Yoga Teachers

Understanding basic body mechanics is something we should have learned in our foundational Yoga teacher training.  If the skeletal body was not covered. we must enhance our knowledge through continuing education that is specifically designed for a Yoga instructor.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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If you are a Yoga 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 resource box above. Namaste! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training: Menstrual Cramps


ustrasana
By Sangeetha Saran

During your yoga teacher training course, you start to research many ailments.  This is only the beginning of your research as teaching yoga is a lifelong marathon of intellectual proportions.  Among the many ailments humans have is menses.  Every month, women are blessed with the gift of a new menstrual cycle. Although it truly is a gift to be able to bring life into the world, many see it as more of an inconvenient, annoying or even painful curse. The severity of menstrual cramps varies greatly from woman to woman. 

Some women hardly experience discomfort while others cannot go about a normal routine without some type of remedy. These women are likely to reach for medication to help ease pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps. Yoga poses can provide a natural way to help relieve the cramping and bloating brought on each month. 

As a result of the hormones surging through the body, many women feel tired, irritable, hungry and uneasy during their menstrual cycles. Sometimes the cravings for salty, fatty and generally unhealthy foods are too strong to resist, but indulging on the couch with a bag of potato chips can actually make the cramps worse. 

Eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water and releasing stress and anxiety will help ease menstrual cramps. Yoga is a gentle way to stretch and tone the entire body, relieve stress, and take quiet time for yourself. There are several specific asanas that I learned during my yoga teacher training at Aura Wellness Center can prevent or lessen the discomfort of menstrual cramps.

Hero Pose

Sit on your knees, with your feet tucked under your bottom. Slide your inner knees together and allow the feet to rest on the sides of your hips with the tops of the feet resting on the floor. Keep the upper body tall with a straight spine. Place the hands on top of the thighs. Breathe and relax for several minutes.

Camel Pose

You can transition from the hero pose into camel pose by coming up onto the knees. Place your palms on your lower back with your fingers pointing down. Lean your upper body back, allowing the head and neck to fall back. Rest your hands on your ankles. Hold for about 30 seconds or longer.

Child’s Pose

Release the camel pose by bringing your bottom back down to rest on your heels. Fold your upper body down, resting it on the mat in front of you. Rest your forehead on the mat. Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms flat, or rest them at your sides with your fingers pointing behind you.

In each of the yoga postures, take deep breaths that fill up the entire abdomen and chest cavity. Slowly release the air before inhaling again through the nose. Allow the breath to calm the mind and reenergize your spirit.

Yoga Teacher Notes

Rapid or forceful pranayama is not suggested during menses, but Viloma and Ujjayi are recommended.  During yoga teacher training, you may have asked why inversions are not recommended.  Suffice to say: Let gravity handle the natural flow.  There is a strong belief in Ayurvedic circles that inversions during one’s period contribute to fibroids or worse.  Some female teachers have taken an extremist stance, and told male teachers to mind their own business about this issue.  

As a female yoga teacher, I am all for women’s rights, but some of us have alienated most of the male yoga instructors who could have presented valuable research.  In summation, I feel you can do what you like, but until I see medical research that says inversions are 100% fine during menstruation, I’ll avoid the risk.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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