Thursday, November 19, 2015

Teaching Yoga and the Power of Truth: Effective Assisting

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

There is great power in becoming aware of the truth and speaking the truth, when appropriate. This can be especially true during a Yoga class. A balanced and comprehensive practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditative techniques can quickly clarify any areas of physical weakness or imbalance. A balanced Yoga practice can also uncover painful and confusing life experiences, which may be lingering just under conscious awareness. These experiences may not have been completely understood or resolved by a student. 

When the practice of Yoga postures or breathing exercises brings these difficult life experiences to the forefront of a student’s awareness, the student then has the opportunity to understand and “make peace” with the experience, which will help to resolve and discharge any lingering negative emotions that may be held in the body and/or in the deep recesses of the mind. In the same way, a balanced practice of postures, pranayama exercises and meditative or relaxation techniques has the ability to uncover physical areas of tension, injury, weakness, and somatization. 



As a professional Yoga instructor, one of the most important teaching skills to develop is to learn how to effectively assist your students during a class. One of the first steps to being able to assist your students safely, effectively and appropriately is to hone your awareness of how each student is practicing the asanas and breathing exercises. It is fine skills to balance teaching a group of students as a whole, while you also practice being mindfully aware of each individual student’s progress through class. 

By initially asking each student to fill out a health questionnaire, you will have a “heads up” about any physical or emotional challenges that as student is currently addressing. In addition, by moving through the room as you teach a Yoga class, you will be able to more easily spot any students who need some assistance to practice a pose in proper alignment. While you are assisting a student, you may also find that modifying a posture, so that a given pose is more accessible for a student, is also appropriate and helpful.

Another aspect of effectively assisting your students throughout the course of a class is to ask your students to feel comfortable asking for help. This can be quite uncomfortable for some students, especially if they are used to being able to do most of the postures on their own. However, as the Yoga teacher, you have the opportunity to create a non-intimidating atmosphere during class, which will help your students to feel more comfortable asking for personal assistance from you, during the practice of a personally challenging asana or pranayama technique. 

When you effectively assist your students during a Yoga class, you will help them to develop and deepen their own practice. You will also help your students to become more aware of any postural misalignment during their practice and how to correct a misalignment, so that they are performing the asanas in such a way that their spinal health is improve, not compromised! This awareness will improve student safety during a class and will also help your students to practice challenging postures and pranayama exercises correctly at home, so that they truly benefit from a well-rounded 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 writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division


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3 comments:

parvezbdjsr said...

As a professional Yoga instructor, one of the most important teaching skills to develop is to learn how to effectively assist the yoga students during a class. Thanks for good posting!

Mary Wilson said...

There is great power in becoming aware of the truth and speaking the truth, when appropriate. This can be especially true during a Yoga class. When a teacher effectively assist the students during a Yoga class, the teacher will help them to develop and deepen their own practice. Thanks for sharing this nice article.

Erik said...

The true art of a Yoga teacher is to make the students realize that they are the teacher and you as the teacher are simply a guide. Each person is a master Yogi all we have to do is dissolve the ego and get past all the garbage we have accumulated. The "Teacher" is actually the student and the students and actually the teachers of themselves.