Thursday, May 29, 2014

Teaching Hatha Yoga: The Value of Props

value of props
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Some students ask, "What are the values of Yoga props?" If you are going to teach or perform postures and movements, then it is important to have an assortment of props available to make routines safer and more enjoyable. There are multiple benefits from using props that include: 

• Blankets
• Wooden blocks
• Mats
• Pillows
• Walls 
• Towels
• Slant boards
• Balls
• Straps 
• Bolsters 
• Chairs

Value 1: Learning Yoga With Affordable Household Items

When you are beginning to practice Yoga, you can use household items that make it easier to perform a particular pose that is difficult. You can use a necktie instead of a specialized strap, and you can use a small area rug as a mat. As you progress in your Yoga practice, you can begin to buy professional props. 


Value 2: Preventing an Injury While Posing

If you have a back or knee problem, then place a folded towel, small pillow or folded blanket under your knee or back to prevent an injury. You should never try to force yourself into pose because it can damage a joint or strain a muscle, requiring a long recovery time. 

Value 3: Reducing a Student’s Boredom

When you teach yoga, you will want to have a wide range of classes for different levels of students. If you have props such as slant boards or balls, then your students can perform challenging physical routines. Students who have advanced to a higher level of coordination and strength will appreciate performing a fun routine that uses a ball. 

Value 4: Giving a Student Confidence

Some students lack confidence while trying a new Yoga pose, but if they have a prop such as a strap or necktie, then they will have leverage to help with lifting a leg higher slightly. After your student notices how much easier it is to perform a difficult pose with a prop, they may have enough confidence to attempt challenging physical routines. 

Value 5: Maintaining Balance During Yoga Postures

If you are concerned about losing your balance during a pose, then you can lean against a wall. Select a section of a wall that is away from furniture and that doesn’t have any artwork. For additional protection, you can push mats or blankets against the wall in case you fall while creating a one-legged Yoga pose. 

Value 6: Protecting the Nerves In Your Neck

It is essential to protect the sensitive nerves in your neck while performing yoga postures on the floor. Make sure to place a small pillow, folded blanket or rolled towel underneath your neck until your feel comfortable. While you might not notice any discomfort in your neck right away, if you don’t protect the nerves in this region, then you will experience pain the next day. 

Value 7: Making Yoga Easier for Senior Citizens

As a senior citizen, you may find it difficult to stand and balance for long amounts of time, but fortunately, by using a chair as a prop, you can enjoy many arm, shoulder and neck movements. If you select a chair that is sturdy, then you can also use it as support while standing and performing poses

Value 8: Support During Complex Moving Yoga Poses

If you have advanced to performing complex poses in a supervised class, then you may need to use a block to maintain your pose. You can find specialized durable foam or wooden blocks in a variety of shapes and sizes that you can use while performing a handstand or headstand to avoid falling over as you learn a new Yoga posture. 

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Becoming An Effective Yoga Teacher: How To Teach Yoga Classes

how to teach yoga
By Faye Martins

When a former student has survived and passed their 200 hour yoga teacher training and they're ready to teach a yoga class, the idea can be daunting. Teaching is something a teacher will have to learn through experience. However, there are steps to take to make sure classes are successful and will bring students back again and again.

Become Adept at Sequencing

The idea of sequencing is being able to offer a routine to students that's progressive, meaning teachers aren't just throwing out poses in random orders. Teachers will always start with more mild poses and gradually increase the heat (or intensity) as the class progresses. Standing poses are introduced first as they help the students acquaint with their "outer body" (the limbs and their connections) and awaken the body as they improve posture and balance. Once the body is awakened, the class can begin to increase in intensity and allow the body to build heat. Students don't want to start with poses that will raise the heartbeat then take them to a reclined twist before asking them to complete three rounds of Sun Salutes as they can lead to imbalances or injury.

Learn to Observe

When a teacher gets in front of their students, they shouldn't become blind to how the students are doing in each pose. Checking students' alignment is key to ensuring they don't get injured. Since most classes are multi-level classes, meaning there will be complete beginners to yogis that are more experienced than the teacher, teachers will have to keep a flexible eye on the class; they will go from adjusting one student in down dog to adjusting an experienced yogi in their inversions. The best way to evaluate students is to keep a close eye during the initial Sun Salutations. This will bring light to who needs the most attention during the simple poses and serve as a reminder to keep in mind the experienced students will need adjustments, too.

Watch Your Language

Rattling off the asana names in Sanskrit is fun but it can draw students' attention away from what's important in yoga: their mind and bodies. Teachers should tell students exactly what they want from them, using active words like "press" and "lift" to help them visualize exactly what they should be doing with that part of their body. An intention that might be set for the class is to simplify the mind, bringing students down from their state of mental overload and introducing something that's a bit more simple. Teachers should always gauge the attention of the class when they start. Are they focusing on what is being asked of them or are they looking around the class in distraction? This is when teachers know what kinds of words to use to motivate and center them. Intermixed with active words should be words like "soften" and "release" to help gently bring their minds back to their practice.

Teaching yoga has many aspects, but the biggest thing to remember is keeping students' current states--whether physical or mental--in mind. Whether they're injured or their minds are wandering outside of the studio, it's crucial to remember that each student has different needs during that class. Teachers who are just learning how to teach yoga classes need to easily balance between evaluating alignment to helping bring a harried student's mind back to their Ujjayi breathing without missing a beat.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.  Click here to receive Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How Much Time Does It Take to Become a Yoga Teacher?

becoming a teacher
By Faye Martins

Anyone who enjoys practicing yoga postures and meditation should consider becoming a teacher. Experts recommend choosing a career doing something that you love, and if you are teaching yoga, then you will get to enjoy its physical and mental benefits on a daily basis. To understand how long it takes to become a yoga instructor, you should contact your local instructors to get an idea of how long the teachers on staff trained before deciding to become a teacher. Each school has minimum guidelines concerning yoga instructor training, then make sure to choose a school that meets your needs.

Talk to Your Own Yoga Instructor About Training

Before enrolling in a yoga instructor training course, make sure that you have the physical stamina to teach students for several hours a day. In addition to remaining physically fit, you must also enjoy yogic meditative practices. If you are enrolled in yoga classes, then watch your own instructor carefully to see if it is a good career choice for you. Talk to your yoga teacher about your career aspirations, and maybe he or she will permit you to work as an assistant to see if you like the work. 

Enroll in a Yoga Training Course

Despite practicing yoga postures each day and enjoying meditation in the evening, you should still enroll in an reputable yoga training school. Before enrolling, you may need to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques and first-aid procedures so that you can assist an injured or ill student. Most schools require students to enroll in a 200-hour training class to earn their basic yoga instructor certificate, but some schools also offer specialized certifications to teach certain ages of students or particular types of yogic practices. You might enroll in classes full-time, or a school may have a part-time option so that you can continue to work at a job.

You Will Learn How to Communicate to Your Students

During yoga classes, you will continue to learn the proper way to teach a posture, but you should also practice helping students. Some students prefer verbal reminders of how to position an arm or leg while for other students, you can stand or sit nearby to help them see how you perform the pose. If a student tells you that touching is acceptable, then you can move a foot or hand into the proper place for a pose. An important aspect of your training is learning where and how to adjust or assist a student.

A Yoga Student Is Required to Study Textbooks and Take Tests

In addition to practicing with a teacher and students, you will have textbooks to read and study to learn about the history, methodology, and philosophy of yoga along with understanding human anatomy. Learning about human physiology is imperative because it helps you understand more about your students’ muscles and joints to prevent any injuries during a class. The yoga course you take will require you to take quizzes and tests to show that you have learned the information necessary to receive a certificate.

Choose a Yoga Teacher Training Program That Meets Your Needs

If you have been training consistently for a few years, earning a 200-hour yoga teacher certificate can require several weeks or months of study if you want to attend classes part-time, but there are also intensive training programs that will keep you in a classroom and yoga studio from the early morning until late in the evening. In addition, the cost of attending classes can vary, but some schools offer discounts that can help you financially. You can choose a yoga instructor program that meets your requirements so that you can begin to teach something that you love to students. 

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Secrets of Exceptional Yoga Teachers

teaching your students
By Faye Martins

If you are a new yoga instructor, then you will want to understand the secrets of the most successful yoga teachers. Here are a few essential tips from exceptional yoga instructors. 

1: Remember That You Were Once a Beginner

After practicing yoga postures and meditation for many years, it is easy to forget what it is like being a beginner. If you have a condescending attitude toward your new students, then they will feel uncomfortable asking questions or making a mistake. While maintaining a yoga pose is easy for you now, it probably was difficult for you when you were a new student. 

2: Make Your Yoga Students Feel Special 

While teaching your students, make an effort to remember their names. When you are teaching a class, walk around the room to help a student who is having difficulty with a posture and make eye contact frequently. Have an open door policy that permits students to ask questions. In addition, keep track of a student’s special needs such as requiring a bolster pillow for a bad back.

3: Practice Speaking to Your Students

When you struggle with speaking in public, you will need to practice to communicate effectively with your students. Make sure that you understand how to use the correct tone of voice so that the students in the back of a class can hear you while the students in the front don’t feel as though you are yelling.

4: Keep Your Yoga Classes Interesting 

Make your yoga classes interesting by changing the routines or settings occasionally. You can play music during a class while inside your yoga studio, or arrange to take your students outside on a nice day to perform simple postures. By using creativity in your yoga classes, your students will not become bored, and they are more likely to sign up for new sessions.

5: Add Extra Value to a Yoga Class

While your students might want to join a yoga class to increase the flexibility in their joints, you can add extra value to a class by including information about nutrition or other forms of exercise. Permit a current student to bring along a friend occasionally so that you can showcase your classes to a new audience.

6: Maintain a Supply of Specialized Yoga Props

Have a supply of specialized props available for students who need items such as straps, pillows or slant boards. Students needing one of these items can place it near to them before beginning a routine so that they won’t miss out on any of the class’s postures or movements.

7: Accept Feedback From Your Students

Accepting feedback from your students is one of the most important ways to become an exceptional yoga instructor. By listening to your students, you might learn that you need to have more lighting in your studio, or you may learn that students don’t understand some of the instructions that you are providing.

8: Offer an Assortment of Classes

If you want to reach a variety of students, then offer an assortment of classes. One group of students might want to learn how to balance better while another class will want to learn complex poses. In addition, you can offer classes for different age groups or genders. 

9: Never Stop Learning New Yoga Methods

Despite being an excellent yoga instructor, you should continue to learn new methods yourself. Make sure to enroll in continuing education classes at an online school or local community college. Alternatively, you can travel to other regions to take weekend workshops. 

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Pros And Cons To Taking Yoga Teacher Training Online

online instruction
By Faye Martins

With yoga rising more and more in popularity, many skilled yogis are looking to take their practice to the next level by becoming certified yoga instructors. However, since most aspiring instructors already hold a full-time job and may have a full commitment load, finding a teacher training course that works with their busy schedules might prove to be a bit of a challenge. Thanks to the internet, many aspiring yoga instructors seek out their yoga teacher training online. While online instruction can be valuable, it can have its drawbacks as well. Here are the pros and cons to obtaining your yoga instructor certification on the internet.

Pro: Create a Schedule That Works For You - The biggest reason why yogis seek out their teacher certification online is because they can create a learning schedule that fits in with their lifestyle. For anyone who's ever been held back from achieving their dream of becoming a yoga instructor due to a hectic schedule, online training can be a blessing.

Con: No In-Person Instruction - Anyone who practices yoga understands the importance of in-person instruction. From mastering an asana to learning how to breathe correctly, there is no substitution for hands-on instruction. With online instruction, there is no teacher present to make any corrections or modifications. However, newer styles of online instruction have found a way to correct this, as you'll see in the next pro.

Pro: New Technology Makes Online Instruction More Hands-On - While older online instruction formats lacked the hands-on aspect of an in-person instructor, newer formats that use video make online yoga teacher training almost identical to an in-person program. By using a web camera, instructors can watch their students and make any necessary suggestions. This format allows students to enjoy the experience of an in-person class from their own home.

Con: Missed Opportunities For Networking - One of the perks of taking a teacher training course through a studio is that students can meet their fellow teachers-to-be, create bonds with their instructors and become affiliated with a studio. Students who seek online, independent training lack these luxuries. However, while these are certainly perks to an in-person program, there are still ways for online students to create these connections. As long as you continue visiting local studios and attending yoga-related events, you can still create these connections as an online student.

The ability to obtain one's yoga teacher training online can be invaluable for those who aspire to become yoga instructors but felt held back by a busy schedule. While there are certainly perks to studying through an in-person program, newer advancements in technology make online teacher training more hands-on than ever. Ultimately, it's important to continue to be an active member of your local yoga community, even if you are studying online. This will help you greatly once you embark on your teaching career. The people that you meet now may end up being your co-workers or students later, so don't be afraid to really get involved in your city or town's yoga scene. Namaste.

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 articles about Yoga, please visit us on Facebook.