Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Balanced Instruction: How To Teach Yoga Students

how to teach
By Faye Martins

Being a good yoga practitioner doesn't necessarily mean that you know how to teach yoga students. Teaching others is very different than performing stances and poses yourself. It takes some practice and guidance to be a good yoga teacher. There are some specific things you can do to learn how to be an excellent yoga instructor.

Choose Your Style

Develop your class based on your personal experience and background. Choose a style that you are an expert in. You should feel confident in your ability to thoroughly explain the key elements of the style. Advertise what styles you are teaching so your students will know what to expect. Think about how you can describe these styles to perspective students.

Be Prepared in Your Space

It doesn't matter if you are renting a studio or if you are teaching out of your home, there are some key elements your space should have. Make sure it is clean and professional. Students are going to want to feel comfortable and peaceful while practicing. Wipe down any shared equipment after each class, keep the floors free of dirt, and dispose of any trash. Mirrors can be very helpful to both the students and you as an instructor. Consider mounting mirrors in the studio so students can see themselves and correct their own forms. Mirrors also make it easier for you to scan the students from your place at the front of the group.

Keep any equipment organized and clean. Depending on your space, you may give students the option of leaving things in the studio. However, make sure these things are kept neat and organized. Your yoga studio is often an oasis for people seeking relaxation and stress relief. Keep this in mind when designing it.

Balance Correction and Praise

You will be working with a variety of people with all kinds of abilities. There might be seasoned students who have been training for years, but there may also be some very uncoordinated people who have very little balance and flexibility. Your job as an instructor is to keep everyone feeling engaged, challenged, and positive.

You will occasionally need to walk around and correct students. If possible, try to rely on non-verbal communication when correcting. This keeps the atmosphere calming and peaceful. Gently reposition students as needed. If you do need to verbally correct a student, do so in a respectful and encouraging way. Generally, for every correction you give you should also give praise. Find something they are doing well and compliment them on it.


Consider developing lesson plans for your classes. These do not need to be written in stone, in fact, you should be prepared to adjust them on the spot. However, having a solid lesson plan will help give your classes some consistency. Treat them as guides, providing you a list of goals and objectives for each class.

You also need to think about what kind of theme you want your classes to have. Some yoga studios are very modern and have more of a fitness and sport mentality. Others are more traditional and have an emphasis on meditation and breathing. The direction your classes go in will be entirely up to you.

Even if you have been practicing yoga for years, knowing how to teach yoga students is different. However, you can develop your teaching skills and pass on your knowledge to others.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Encouraging Students to Safely Practice Yoga at Home

safely practice yoga at home
By Gopi Rao

Unfortunately, I have met teachers who purposely discouraged experienced students from practicing at home.  They pointed out that improper alignment could ruin a practitioner for life. In fact, they preached that practicing Yoga without one's teacher could be a "game ender." Some of us believed it until the Internet made information easy to obtain. Suddenly, people were sharing information free. The magazines, studies, and research, rained down from cyber space and some of us started to realize that we had been misinformed. The world would not end if we practiced Yoga alone.

As teachers, we should encourage a safe home practice and we should let our students know what do do. Luckily, students find information freely, but we should let our students know about the best and most reputable yoga sites.  The following is a check list for our students. Please feel free to add anything that would be useful in the comments section.

Strengthen Your Home Yoga Practice

If you practice yoga, you’re already familiar with its many benefits. Sometimes, however, you may feel like you're stuck or that your practiced has plateaued. In class, the instructor can point out areas where you need improvement. But what about when you’re practicing on your own? Here are some tips to strengthen your home yoga practice.

Get in the Right Mood

Your frame of mind can help you improve your practice. Doing your workouts in a relaxed state of mind is always better than feeling stressed or pressed for time. Doing a short meditation before doing yoga can help. Playing soothing music and having pleasant scents in the house can also get you in the right mental state.

Stay in the Moment

Being present is one of the fundamental principles of yoga. At the same time, this isn’t always easy. When your mind wanders, however, it’s difficult to get the maximum benefits from the postures. It’s really difficult to get the most out of your practice if the TV is on or you have YouTube videos playing in the background. For each posture, focus on your breathing and pay attention to the parts of your body that are being stretched.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

Both yoga and a healthy diet can have a beneficial impact on your health. There can also be a connection between the two. When you have an especially good yoga session, think about what you’ve had to eat or drink that day. The same is true for when you feel sluggish or less flexible than usual. The usual culprits for weakening your practice are sugar, alcohol, too much caffeine and junk food. However, you may have your own food sensitivities that help or hurt your practice.

Some people find that they can help their yoga practice by taking certain nutritional supplements. For example, taking a joint flexibility supplement containing MSM, chrondroitin and glucosamine may help your joints get more flexible. Another thing that can help is keeping your body well hydrated with water and other healthy beverages.

Don’t Try to Force a Breakthrough

While you should always challenge yourself when practicing, you should never try to force things. This will only create tension and increase the risk of injury. Everyone’s body is different. Don’t try to compete with people who are more flexible than you. You get the most benefit from a posture by finding the right balance between relaxation and effort. Yoga is not a competitive sport where you can quantify your progress. As long as you’re making the right amount of effort for you, you’re moving in the right direction.

These are a few of the ways that you can improve your home yoga practice. Keep in mind that you, like everyone else, will progress at your own pace. Trying to rush things is contrary to the spirit of yoga. At the same time, you can often improve your practice by making a few simple changes.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Detailed Look At A Yin Yoga Teacher Course

teaching yin yoga classes
By Faye Martins
Yoga comes in many different forms. Yin yoga is a specific style of yoga with special postures that are held for a long time. This helps energy flow through deep connective tissue. People looking to teach this style of yoga would benefit from taking a yin yoga teacher course. These courses will give people a deep understanding of this style as well as how to teach it properly.

The Benefits of Yin Yoga

Teacher training courses for yin yoga will explore the many benefits of this style. It won't be a quick look at benefits, however. Training courses make sure one knows every way that yin yoga benefits those who practice it. A teacher must have deep knowledge of its advantages in order to help students get the most out of their class.

The benefits that are taught during training courses are increased flexibility, less stress, and a calmer mind. Other benefits that are covered include increased stamina and better energy flow. People taking the course will be able to understand how and why yin yoga is able to provide these many different benefits.

Yin Yoga Principles

Yoga has many important principles, and yin yoga is based upon these same principles as well as having its own set of special precepts.

People looking to take a course to teach yin yoga should be ready to learn all about the heart and soul of yoga and its principles. Courses generally teach how yoga is more than just exercises and postures. It is a way of life, and these postures are to be practiced along with the mental and spiritual exercises of yin yoga.

Other main principles of yin yoga include perfect stillness, understanding the body's boundaries, and how time is important when attempting poses. People taking courses will also learn how yin yoga differs from the many different types of yang yoga.

Learning How to Teach

Yin yoga courses also instruct people in the art of teaching this particular style. In order to be an effective teacher that helps students get the most out of a course, one must first understand the subject he or she is teaching very well.

In addition, training courses teach that one must be able to create lessons for each class that give students information in an easy-to-understand format. Students should be able to ask questions when they are confused, and the teacher needs to create an atmosphere of kindness.

Training courses emphasize how yin yoga is a style that calms the mind and helps people meditate; this is why teachers should not have a stressful, intense teaching style.

Teaching Postures and Sequences

Yin yoga cannot be properly taught without advanced knowledge of its many postures and sequences. Teacher training courses will help people learn exactly how to do each pose without hurting themselves or others. Harming oneself or a student would be devastating.

Moreover, yin yoga can only be practiced properly when one knows all the poses and sequences. Training courses will help people learn each sequence by heart and guide them to create their own sequences.

Yin yoga concentrates on helping relax deep tissue and has many other benefits. People looking to teach yin yoga should be prepared to learn its principles, postures, sequences, and other important aspects of this unique style.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.  To see more about Yoga click here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Yoga Business

opportunities for yoga teachers
By Rachel Holmes

No yoga teacher wants to deal with marketing. Most instructors still have trouble with asking for money for the classes they teach. The problem is that you won't be teaching long, if you do it for free. Unfortunately, all of us need money to live. Paul Jerard often compares teachers to authors. The point is: Writing a book is a lot of work, but marketing the book is also a full-time job and a completely different skill.

There are many opportunities for teachers and 90% of them are outside the studios. Most of us don't own a studio, so we teach at health clubs, dance academies, schools of all kinds, community centers, chiropractic clinics, corporate facilities, senior centers, and many more locations. The most lucrative of them all is corporate yoga classes.

Corporate Opportunities For Yoga Teachers

Today's corporations are becoming more aware of how detrimental employee stress is to job productivity and company profitability. Happily, this has led to the current trend of providing employees with stress-release helps at work, including yoga classes. Often classes are held before or after work hours or during the lunchtime hours when employees have a bit of space in their schedule to participate. In this post, learn how to begin taking your yoga practice into the corporate arena.

Know Where to Look for Opportunities

The new theories of social networks suggest that most opportunities for booking corporate yoga classes are likely to exist within your existing social networks.

Here are some great ideas for leveraging your existing contacts for new job leads:

- Call your old employers and offer your services.

- Ask your colleagues and peers for a contact in their company's human relations department.

- Ask your students for the same.

- Research local companies that offer corporate wellness programming or have won awards like "best place to work" and reach out to them.

- Reach out via social media and ask your online networks for referrals.

How to Get the Gig

Once you have a contact list, you need to do one last thing before you reach out - know what you are offering and how much you are charging for it. This can be tricky, especially if you are a newly minted yoga instructor.

Here are some tips for how to prepare your presentation:

- Identify the ideal class size per class and the minimum classroom size to accommodate that number of students.

- Set your rates (common ways include by the class or by the number of students).

By following these steps, you can enjoy teaching yoga to employees who truly need you!

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Brief Overview Of Yoga Student Safety

student safety tips
By Faye Martins
In this contemporary era, yoga has become an incredibly popular form of exercise to help promote physical and mental health. In order to ensure that one gets the most out of this physical activity, it is important to get some basic information regarding yoga student safety. With this idea in mind, there are four tips Yoga teachers can implement to ensure that students do not harm themselves while participating in activities at your Yoga studio. Feel free to use the list below as a handout for your students.
Yoga Student Safety Tips

1. Warm-up. 

Warming up before you begin your yoga exercises is extremely important for several reasons. One of those reasons includes the fact that warming up slowly increases the heart rate such that the moderate or intense cardiovascular activity that follows is not overwhelming to the mind and body. In short, the warm up prepares the body for the workout to come.

2. Stay Hydrated. 

Another strategy that yoga students should implement to make sure that they do not harm themselves while engaging in the physical activity is to remain hydrated. If an individual becomes dehydrated while completing yoga exercises, she or he could faint and/or experience a plethora of other physical problems such as dizziness. Additionally, many people sweat when doing yoga exercises, and this reality can result in a loss of important nutrients. Thus to prevent both dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, be sure to drink liquid prior to exercise and during the yoga workout if necessary. To make sure that you get in the habit of doing this, make a point to bring a water bottle with you to each yoga workout session you attend.

3. Be A Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learner.

Yet another strategy that should be implemented to ensure yoga student safety is the activation of the student's visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning abilities during the exercises. When in a yoga class, many if not most teachers will provide instructions for exercise in two ways-telling the class which move to perform and showing them by performing the physical movements. To prevent injury, the yoga student should listen carefully to the instructions, watch the teacher perform the movements, and listen to his or her body once the movements are performed to detect if the positions are causing physical strain or pain. By being a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learner, yoga students can preclude themselves from experiencing unnecessary pain and soreness.

4. Cool Down. 

One aspect of yoga exercise that many students tend to overlook is the importance of the cool down. Yet in many ways, the cool down might be considered one of the most important components of a yoga class. For example, the cool down provides the yoga student's heart rate to return to normal gradually, thereby preventing a sudden drop that could cause bodily discomfort. Additionally, doing a cool down that results in the slow and steady decrease of one's heart rate also prevents blood from pooling in the lower extremities. For these reasons, be sure to complete a cool down after your yoga exercise to ensure safety.


As many fitness experts know, yoga exercises can promote physical and mental health while also facilitating agility and a sense of calm. To be sure that you get the most out of the physical activity, be sure that you engage in the exercises safely. By implementing some or all of the strategies listed above, you will greatly decrease the likelihood of experiencing unwanted, unnecessary pain and/or injuries.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.  See Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga.