Sunday, July 27, 2014

Enhance Your Career Opportunities With A Power Yoga Instructor Certification Program

power yoga instructor certification program
By Faye Martins

While there are many forms of yoga that are practiced around the world, power yoga has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent decades. Many people compare this style of yoga to Ashtanga yoga, but it varies slightly. One of the main differences between these two vigorous styles of yoga relates to the the poses. In Ashtanga, students are led through a serious of poses, but there is more free form and fluidity to power yoga. The flexibility in the structure of the power yoga class means that the instructor chosen to lead the class has a considerable impact on the overall impact of the class on students. Often, students will search for an instructor whose class they enjoy, and they will continue to use the services of the instructor for health and wellness benefits. Those who are interested in pursuing a fulfilling and active career as a power yoga instructor will need to follow a power yoga instructor certification program.

Where to Find Certification Classes

A power yoga instructor certification program generally provides a graduate with the ability to obtain a job as an instructor at a wide range of gyms, fitness centers and yoga centers. Some yoga centers that offer classes to members or to the general public also offer training and certification programs for those who wish to become instructors. Often, certification programs are advertised through a studio's website or through the center itself.

The Typical Features of a Certification Program

The majority of certification classes require the student to spend approximately 200 hours or longer in a classroom. A typical program provides students with in-depth knowledge of an expansive range of yoga terminology and poses. Students may be taught how to modify postures and breathing techniques for the benefit of individual students, how to be inspirational to students and how to structure a class for maximum benefit and enjoyment. Everything from assisting and correcting students with postures to how to demonstrate poses and observe poses is taught in the program. In addition, some programs also provide business-oriented instruction for those who wish to run their own yoga classes. Many provide perks and incentives to students, such as assistance finding a job as an instructor after graduation, free classes in the studio while they are students, refresher courses with classes after graduation and other benefits.

How to Search For a Training Program

While many features in a certification program are similar from school to school, it is important to note that there are key differences. When you are searching for a training program, you may consider taking a few classes at the school to get a feel for the ambiance in the facility and to meet the instructors personally. In addition, pay attention to course schedules, flexibility to make up classes that are missed and other details. The best facility is one that has a relaxed environment that you feel comfortable in and that is focused on making the program as beneficial for students as possible.

Many who obtain a power yoga instructor certification will work as a private instructor or will be hired to work in a yoga facility or fitness center. This is a great option to consider for those who love yoga and who are looking for a fulfilling part-time or full-time position.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Yoga as Mental Exercise

mental clarity
By Rachel Holmes

Praised for years as perhaps the best physical and spiritual exercise, yoga has become known almost as much for its benefits as a mental exercise. Along with reducing stress, yoga also increases concentration and clarity of thought in a person's professional and home life. In fact, some studies have suggested that yoga techniques may improve concentration and thought not only in adults suffering from stress, but children as well.

Many yoga techniques are easy to learn, people of all body types and fitness levels can reap the benefits of these exercises. For example, yoga is being used more and more in retirement communities, helping seniors who may be experiencing problems with Alzheimer's disease or with other cognitive function. In other situations, people who suffer from brain injuries, learning disabilities, or other conditions where cognitive function is impaired may also see some positive results from yogic methods. According to recent data, people experiencing these and other problems have been shown to increase mental clarity and focus, in addition to showing improvement when trying to remember things or retain information in their short and long-term memory.

Whether a person has a loss of mental clarity due to everyday stress, medical conditions, or other reasons, using yoga as a mental exercise is gaining widespread acceptance in the fitness and medical worlds. Used every day or only a few times each week, yoga allows a person to experiment with several different movements to see which ones work best for them. In fact, some exercises have been designed so that they can be done while sitting at a desk during the workday, at a desk in a classroom, or even in a hospital room.

A great way to relieve the pressure associated with living in a fast-paced world, yoga helps to relieve the pressure that builds up in a person's body and mind each day. Just as the body needs exercise to keep it in top condition, the brain also benefits from stress-relieving techniques such as yoga. If you want less stress and greater mental focus, yoga can deliver all that and much more.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Yoga for Emotional Turmoil

By Kimaya Singh

If yoga is all about the melding of mind, body and spirit, then how could yoga possibly heal a wounded person? In other words, could this lifestyle possibly remedy emotional turmoil, when an intellectual approach cannot unblock the problem?

Yoga is a Sanskrit word for union or joining together. It is much more than a series of exercises or asanas that stretch the human body physically. The student learns to function on an integrated whole, learning the powerful connection with proper breathing, focus, muscle control, etc.

When someone is experiencing emotional distress, they are not only acknowledging it in the brain, but the entire body is reacting through the vast nervous system. Our muscles have a tendency to tense up, our breathing could accelerate, stress hormones are released, inflammation can develop in the circulatory system, etc. Yoga teaches us to let go of the emotional toxicity that strikes us as human beings.

While performing yoga, the student immerses herself or himself in the movements, becoming conscious of one's organism. Not only do we feel the stretching, we become the stretching, not allowing our minds to wander, but to give total focus to our movements. As we adjust our body through various asanas and deep concentration, we are also releasing the constriction and liberating the flow of our prana or life force. The body and spirit are now relaxed, working in harmony with the mind to heal the emotional trauma.

Many experienced yoga teachers believe that we as human beings learn early on to block off painful experiences that we carry unconsciously throughout our lives. The gift of yoga teaches us to go deep and work with our emotions in a healthy way. There are even some asanas that may push one into confronting emotional issues, like the Camel. This position stretches just about every major muscle in the body. It's a vulnerable pose leaving your heart open. Some students have ended up sobbing following the Camel.

An old Yogic proverb says this: "Life is in the breath; therefore he who only half breathes, half lives."

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Nurturing Independence with Yoga: Supported Dolphin Pose

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

There is an ongoing debate in the Yoga community about whether or not the use of props nurtures dependency or independence. In some traditions, the use of props like bolsters, straps and blocks is highly recommended for students who are unable to practice the postures in correct alignment without these tools. However, in other Yoga traditions, the use of props is often viewed as a sign of weakness and failure at achieving a challenging posture on one’s own volition. 

Yoga props can either keep a student stuck at a certain level, or the use of appropriate props can help to support a student in the successful practice of a posture that may have alluded him or her for many months. Practicing binding postures, challenging backbends and freestanding inversions are often the hallmark of a Yogi or Yogini’s adeptness at the practice of intermediate and advanced asanas. Nevertheless, there are times when it is inappropriate or even dangerous for a Yoga teacher to push his or her students into these challenging postures before the students are fully prepared. 

Accurately gauging your students’ level of preparedness for the practice of specific asanas is one of the hallmarks of a good Yoga teacher. If you are teaching a class to a mixed group of students, this quality is particularly important. For example, if you are entering into the practice of a sequence of challenging inversion postures, such as handstand and headstand, accurately gauging your students’ abilities is paramount to teaching a safe Yoga class. By using appropriate props for different students, you will facilitate the correct practice of a wide assortment of Yoga poses in a safe manner. 

The practice of inversions is often difficult for many beginning and intermediate students. It is not uncommon for Yoga students to have difficulty performing freestanding inversions without the support of a wall to be quite difficult for months, or even years. By using the wall as a Yoga prop, you will be able to instruct your students on how to practice challenging inversions, while substantially reducing their risk of hurting themselves.

* Supported Dolphin Pose

Supported Dolphin Pose is a very accessible inversion that prepares Yoga students to safely practice more advanced inversions. Traditionally, Dolphin Pose has been practiced without the use of a wall in the middle of a room. However, the practice of Supported Dolphin Pose with the aid of a wall helps a student to become comfortable in inversion postures, while strengthening the muscles of the neck, shoulders and arms. Do keep in mind that inversions are contraindicated in the case of head or neck injuries, pregnancy, menstruation, high blood pressure, and some eye diseases.  

In addition, Dolphin Pose also offers a Yoga practitioner many of the benefits of more strenuous inversions, such as headstand, handstand and Pincha  Mayurasana. In fact, Pincha Mayurasana, or Feathered Peacock Pose, is literally just a step above Dolphin Pose. The pose is the same, only with the legs raised vertically in the air instead of in a “T” shape against the wall. Dolphin Pose is usually practiced after a series of Sun Salutations and standing postures in a Yoga class. In other words, after you are amply warmed up. 

When you are ready to practice Supported Dolphin Pose, find a free wall space in your home or studio and place your mat perpendicular to the wall. Come down and rest in Child’s Pose on your mat with your feet against the wall. With an inhale, come to your knees and place your clasped hands together on the mat in front of you with your hands and elbows creating a triangle. Your hands should be far enough away from the wall so that you have room to walk your feet up the wall behind you and still keep your legs extended. 

Shift the weight of your body onto your forearms and slowly walk your feet up the wall behind you until they are hip height. If your upper back rounds, bend your knees until you can comfortably maintain a straight line between your hips and your shoulders. Hold Supported Dolphin Pose for thirty seconds to a minute. When you are ready to exit the posture, with an exhale, release the pose and come down and rest in Child’s Pose for several breaths. Repeat Supported Dolphin Pose two more times before continuing on with the rest of your Yoga practice. 

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nurturing Independence with Yoga: So Hum Meditation

teaching students to meditate
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

So Hum Meditation is a meditation technique that is alluded to in several ancient Yogic texts, including a commentary on the Shiva Sutras and a number of Vedantic Upanishads. This meditation is profoundly relaxing. The use of the sacred mantra “So Hum” helps to quell an overactive mind and focus a Yoga practitioner’s attention on the expansive field of awareness in his or her own being. In Buddhism, this expansiveness is referred to as the clear light of bliss. The mantra “So Hum” is literally translated as: I am that. 

In this context, “I am” refers to each individual as a metaphorical drop in the ocean. Although each one of us may only be a drop, we are comprised of the same divine energy that imbues all of creation with prana. This divine energy is known by different spiritual traditions by a variety of names including the Holy Spirit, the Great Creator and Brahman. The second part of the mantra “Hum,” refers to the energetic vibration of all creation. When we repeat the mantra So Hum as we focus on the Ajna Chakra, which is located at the point between the eyebrows, our mind and heart can come to rest in our essential divinity. 

When we are able to rest, even momentarily, in our own divine nature, our vital life force energy is restored and our mind begins to release its relentless machinations. The So Hum mantra is optimally received from an enlightened Yogi or Yogini. However, not all Yoga students have easy access to an enlightened master who is able to bestow this mantra in its enlivened state. By saying a quick prayer of gratitude to the masters who have blessed you with the knowledge of So Hum before proceeding with your meditation session, you will energetically connect yourself with the wisdom of this lineage of Yoga masters. 

By practicing a balanced assortment of Yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation techniques, you will increase your ability to react independently of habitual thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. In addition to a consistent practice of Yoga asanas and pranayama exercises, including a period of meditation into your practice will give you some breathing room from dependent tendencies and nurture your connection with the still point of light within your own heart. 

* So Hum Meditation

The So Hum Meditation is best practiced at the beginning of a Yoga class or at the end of class just prior to or after Shavasana. When you are ready to practice the So Hum Meditation, come to an easy sitting position on your Yoga mat or on a chair. If you are sitting on a Yoga mat and your hips are tight, place a folded blanket underneath you for support. If you are sitting on a chair, place your feet flat on the floor or rest them on a pillow on the floor. Keep your spine comfortably erect and your hands folded in your lap or on your knees in jnana mudra with your thumb and forefinger touching. 

You may wish to use a timer so that you do not have to worry about keeping track of the time. Set your watch or timer to the amount of time you have to meditate today. When you are ready, with your next inhale; silently repeat “So.” As you draw in fresh oxygen, bring your awareness to your Third Eye Chakra. Focus your awareness on the space between your eyebrows. Pause, and repeat, “Hum” as you exhale fully. As you release the breath that sustains you, know that your life force energy is merging back into the web of life all around you. 

Continue to repeat “So” on your inhale and “Hum” as you exhale. Some Yogis or Yoginis find it to be more effective to repeat, “Hum” on the inhale and “So” on the exhale. Choose the rhythm that works best for you today. If your mind wanders, gently and compassionately bring your awareness back to your Third Eye or Ajna Chakra. When your meditation period ends, close your practice of the So Hum Meditation by folding your hands in Anjali Mudra at your heart and give thanks for the expanded awareness of the pulsation of divinity within your own being. 

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division