Friday, November 28, 2014

Yoga as a Metaphor: Enhancing Energy and Abundance

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

The essence of the celebration of Thanksgiving is one of gratitude for the abundance that fills our lives. This abundance may be in the form of nourishing food, good friends, material well-being, or rich family connections. There are also less visible forms of abundance, such as a generous heart and a giving nature. All of these forms of abundance make our lives rich and fulfilling. 

On the other hand, many Yoga practitioners experience a certain frustration or sadness at a perceived lack of abundance in one or more areas of their lives. For instance, you may feel that you are blessed with a lucrative career that takes care of all your material needs, but you may feel lonely if you are not able to spend enough time with your family or friends. Alternately, you may feel very nourished and sustained by close friendships and a deep connection to your family, but you may struggle to earn enough money to cover your basic living expenses. 

In either case, increasing the balance of how you spend your time and energy will help to create more abundance in the areas of your life that do not feel fulfilling. By practicing Yoga regularly you will feel more energetic and optimistic, so that you will have more energy to put into other areas of your life, including professional aspirations and interpersonal relationships. A lack of abundance in one or more areas of your life is most likely connected to a lack of energy and/or an imbalance in the way you spend your time. 

By engaging in the highly effective and time-tested practices of Yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation techniques, you will increase your self-awareness and physical well-being. Both of these qualities will allow you to invest more energy into various aspects of your life, which will nurture abundance and fullness on all levels of your life. By being mindfully aware of how you move through your Yoga practice, you will be able to witness how you approach different aspects of your practice, which easily translates into a metaphor for how we approach our lives “off the mat.” 

By bringing mindful awareness to your Yoga practice, you will develop the self-knowledge and understanding about how to balance the different aspects ofyour practice according to your own temperament and needs. This will enable you to apply this knowledge to establishing a revitalizing daily rhythm, which will enhance your energy and creativity throughout the other aspects of your life. For example, do you find that you are often rushed to get through your Yoga practice because you still have a million and one things to do today? Or do you find that you jump right into a vigorous flow of Sun Salutations and standing poses before you are warmed up, and then find that you are running out of steam before you even really get your Yoga practice started? 

By mindfully witnessing how you practice Yoga on the mat, you will be astonished by the wisdom you gain about your approach to your life off the mat. During this time of thanksgiving, the awareness of cultivating a sense of fullness in all areas of our lives is heightened. One way to increase energy and abundance in our lives off the mat is to become aware of how we structure our time on the Yoga mat. For instance, I often find that if I warm-up slowly before moving into the Sun Salutations and other vigorous Yoga poses that my practice of the more challenging physical poses of Yoga is deeper and more strengthening. This natural flow from gentle movement to more vigorous movements increases my energy and sense of abundance much more effectively than jumping right into the Sun Salutations or Power Yoga flows without amply warming up. 

By honoring your own natural of warming up slowly, reaching an apex point in your practice, and then cooling down and resting at the end of your Yoga practice, you will find it much easier to establish a balanced rhythm in other areas of your life. One of the keys to cultivating abundance and energy in our lives is by honoring our own natural rhythm, as we nurture and honor the rhythm inherent in other areas of our lives and in the lives of those around us. This includes a balanced approach to nurturing our careers and strengthening our personal relationships, as we maintain a strong and consistent foundation of self-care through a balanced Yoga practice.  

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a yoga and health-related freelance writer and an academic support specialist. She may be contacted at:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yoga as a Metaphor: Giving Thanks

enhance the flow of energy
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Recently, I have become more and more aware of how my approach to my Yoga practice “on the mat” directly reflects my stance towards my life “off the mat.” Although this internal stance towards my life may not always feel flattering to me, it is highly illuminating. With this knowledge, I am able to shift some of my less than optimal approaches towards life to a stance that supports a greater sense of gratitude, dignity and abundance

As we are fast approaching the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States, the awareness of the fullness or scarcity in our lives may be more pronounced. By witnessing our approach to our own Yoga practice, we will be able to gain a deeper inner awareness and knowledge about what works for us personally, both on and off the mat, so that we may choose to increase a sense of optimism, energy and gratitude in our own lives. 

This cultivation of gratitude may be as simply as taking a moment to bow our heads at the end of our Yoga practice, in order to thank ourselves for our own effort on the mat and to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for having the time and physical health, which allows us to practice Yoga. Likewise, to take a moment at the beginning of a Yoga class or personal practice to become aware of the abundance in our lives helps to generate an open heart, cultivate gratitude and, in turn, generate more abundance in our lives. 

One of the best ways to increase the sense of gratitude, fullness and well-being through Yoga is the practice of backbends. Back bending Yoga poses open up the entire front side of the torso, including the heart and throat chakras. These chakras often get block or shut down when we experience heartbreak, frustration or disappointment. By practicing Yoga poses that enhance the flow of energy throughout these areas, we will release the energetic knots that block us from experiencing the love in our own hearts. 

* Upward Plank Pose or Purvottanasana

Upward Plank Pose is a very strong heart- opening Yoga posture. It stretches out the entire front side of the torso, including the throat chakra area. If you are healing from a wrist injury or have a neck injury, it is recommended that you practice a more restorative back bending pose, such as Supported Goddess Pose. Upward Plank Pose is generally practiced after a series of Sun Salutations, standing poses and balancing asanas. It is a counter pose for Upward Facing Dog Pose. 

When you are ready to practice Upward Plank Pose, sit on your Yoga mat with your legs extended. Place your hands approximately 18 inches behind your hips with your fingers pointing towards your toes. With your next inhale, raise your torso in the air and gently bend your neck back. If you are an intermediate Yoga student, keep your legs extended straight out in front of you. 

If this pose is too intense for you with your legs extended out in front of you, bend your knees to modify the pose. Keep your knees parallel to each other and hip distance apart. The elongation and expansion throughout the front of your torso will still be quite pronounced. If you have a neck injury, do not drop your head back, keep your neck straight or support your head on a chair. If this pose strains your neck at all, please practice a restorative back bending Yoga pose instead. 

Hold Upward Plank Pose for three full breaths. With your next exhale, release the pose and come back to a seated position on your Yoga mat. Repeat Upward Plank Pose two more times, and then move into Extended Child’s Pose in order to release any tension that may have accumulated in your lower back. As the emotional holding and muscular contraction releases throughout the torso, heart and throat chakra areas, you will feel a sense of expansion and a deeper sense of abundance and gratitude gently vibrating throughout your entire being. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a yoga and health-related freelance writer and an academic support specialist. She may be contacted at:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

All About Power Yoga Instructor Certification Programs

all about power yoga instructor certification programs
By Faye Martins

Are you interested in transforming people's lives? A power yoga instructor certification program will allow you to do just this. Teaching can be a rewarding experience, both spiritually and emotionally. It's also a great way to supplement your income. In what other way can you be paid to help others and keep up you own physical fitness? Before we look at certification programs, lets understand what this discipline entails.

What is Power Yoga?

Power Yoga is a term used in the West to encompass the practice of Indian Ashtanga. It has three basic components: Vinyasa, Tristhana, and Internal Purification. Vinyasa incorporates using the breath to move to one posture to the next. Tristhana enables the practitioner to focus inwards, focusing only on posture, breathing, and keeping a steady gaze. Internal purification is about letting go of negative emotions and desires.

Within classes, instructors will lead practitioners through a series of vigorous asanas. Examples of some asanas include Warrior One, Downward Dog, and Triangle Pose. Different instructors can put their own interpretation on how to arrange the series of asanas, as well as offering modifications for beginners. Power Yoga continues to be the most widely available form in the United States.

Gaining Certification

Where to Start?

Many of your local studios offer programs to become a teacher. There are also a couple of nationwide institutes, such as the Baptiste Vinyasa Yoga Institution.

Types of Training Available

This form of yoga is a broad field. Many programs offer a wealth of certification options. These include hot yoga, hot power yoga fusion, yoga sculpt, and specialty power yoga programs like Baptiste. In addition, teacher programs offer courses at different levels. Higher-level courses need more time and training than your basic level one courses. There are also online teacher training programs available if you do not live near a studio.

What to Expect

Teaching courses will demonstrate how to keep bodies properly aligned to avoid injuries. They will train you how to teach with your voice and how to use your hands appropriately to instruct or correct a student. You can also expect to learn how to give a powerful and concise presentation-there's nothing worse than seeing students nod off in class because you are not communicating effectively. You will also learn how to read students, and not just on a physical level. It is important for instructors to identify with students on a mind, body, and spiritual level. Anatomy and physiology will be addressed, along with learning the names of postures in Sanskrit. Finally, you should expect to be introduced to the business side of yoga. Many teachers leave programs not only to teach but to run their own studios as well.

How Long Will it Take?

Program lengths vary widely. Some can be completed in just 60 hours. Some take over 200 hours. Several programs take a couple of months and a select few take up to 2 years.

What Will it Cost?

Again this varies depending on the program and length of time. You can expect to spend around 1500 on average.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How To Select The Best Restorative Yoga Teacher Course

yoga teacher course
By Faye Martins
These days, the wellness industry has gained popularity and credibility as a field capable of helping people look their best. For this reason, yoga instructors are oftentimes finding themselves capable of earning a substantive living in this exercise sector. In order to keep growing personally and professionally, however, it's important to take ongoing educational courses that improve one's skill set. One such course that yoga teachers can take to accomplish this objective is the restorative yoga teacher course. To learn more about how to select the best restorative course for you, read the instructions that appear below:

1. Identify Your Needs.

Although yoga instructors may be teaching the same basic practice, they have a plethora of different personal and professional goals. In the event that a yoga instructor opts to take a restorative yoga course, she or he needs to think critically about things such as where the acquired skills will be taught and whether the ongoing course will help qualify them for a raise or promotion. Once factors like these have been carefully considered, yoga instructors will be prepared to select the type of restorative yoga course that would be most appropriate and advantageous for them.

2. Research The Program's Qualifications And Credentials.

This is another important strategy that should be implemented when a yoga instructor is attempting to find the best restorative courses. Typically, companies that offer this type of instruction gain credence and popularity based on how much education and experience they have in this sector. With that idea in mind, instructors who want to pick the best courses available should do background research to determine what types of qualifications and credentials a company has before purchasing courses from them.  

3. Check With The Better Business Bureau (BBB).

In addition to learning more about a company that offers restorative yoga instruction by doing your own research, instructors can check with the BBB. For years, the BBB has been helping people gauge the quality of products and services offered by a plethora of companies. Since this is the case, take the time to go online and see what type of rating the BBB has given a specific company. 

4. Ask Friends And Family Members.

In general, the yoga instructor can find at least one family member or friend who is familiar with the company offering restorative courses. And if they're not familiar with the company, they probably know someone who has used the services. Since this is the case, it's important to ask friends and family members about any experiences they've had with specific companies. These individuals will likely be open and honest regarding whether the company offered excellent, expedient services. 

5. Sleep On It.

In many cases, yoga instructors may find that they locate a company that they believe will offer exactly the type of restorative courses that they want. However, it's important not to jump at the first opportunity that makes itself available. Instead, instructors should take the time to consider their income and research other companies before making a final decision. By "sleeping on it" in this way, instructors can make the most informed and beneficial choice possible. 


Yoga professionals who are interested in ongoing personal development and career growth should note that taking restorative courses can help them realize this objective. To get started, instructors should utilize some or all of the tips and tricks outlined above to ensure that they select the best courses available. In so doing, yoga professionals will be able to offer excellent instruction and improve the quality of their own lives as well as the lives of their students.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Teaching Pranayama: A True Art

art of pranayama
By Faye Martins 

For those who love the ancient form of exercise known as yoga, becoming an instructor can be an extremely rewarding experience. It is a wonderful way to share in a way of life that promotes inner harmony and balance. Teaching pranayama should be included in each yoga session. It assists students as they learn how to regulate their breathing. With control, power is released.

Understanding Pranayama

In order to teach the art of pranayama, true understanding is necessary. These breathing exercises are meant to clear away inner obstacles, both physical and emotional. They promote the flow of life energy, known as prana. As you instruct your students, you will teach them to become conscious of their breathing, something that occurs naturally throughout our lives. Our breathing is our constant companion. However, as we get caught up in life, we tend to actually reduce our quality of breathing. When we become stressed, frustrated, or angry, we fail to breathe deeply, depriving our bodies of its vital supply of oxygen. However, you can help your students to tap into the power of their breathing during every yoga session.

Pranayama Techniques

You can use a variety of techniques to unleash the power of breathing for your students. Sitting in an upright position is found to be most beneficial when practicing breathing exercises. The Cross-Legged Pose is instrumental in allowing students to focus on the steady intake and outtake of air. Students can also learn how to breathe evenly as they perform the Lotus Pose. The main goal is to make sure breathing is easy and smooth. Students should never hold their breath while completing yoga poses. Forward bends, back bends, and shoulder stands allow students to focus on their prana as they slowly breathe in for five counts, then release for five counts. As they become experienced, they will become skilled in regulating their breathing.

Specific Breathing Techniques

In addition to encouraging your students to regulate their breathing during all yoga poses, there are specific techniques that are devoted to breathing alone. Kapalabhati Pranayama is known as Skull Shining breathing. It is truly energizing and detoxifies naturally, ridding the body of negative energy. Nadi Shodhana is alternate nostril breathing, a technique that promotes a deep sensation of relaxation. Sama Vritti is Equal breathing and is calming as well. Meditation provides the perfect opportunity to try different techniques. You should take a well-rounded approach to instruction, making sure that you focus on prana in a variety of ways.

Seek a Deeper Understanding

Teaching pranayama can be a true joy. Your class will reap the benefits that come with enhanced control of their breathing. Remember to focus on regulating breathing at all times, from the beginning to the end. Treat each session as a journey of discovery as you all embrace the power of our own bodies. Let your life force in and help your students to do the same with every class. Discover the art of controlled exhalations and inhalations in order to achieve inner harmony.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.