Friday, June 26, 2015

Teaching Mood Elevating Yoga: Camel Pose

mood elevating classes
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

A rapidly growing teaching niche in the Yoga industry is teaching classes that uplift and elevate the spirit. Back in 2012, it was estimated that over 16 million Americans suffer from some form of depression. Many health researchers now estimate that the incidence of depression is increasing by 20% on a yearly basis in the United States alone. This roughly translates into over 20 million Americans, who are suffering with either a low-grade form of depression or major depressive disorder. 

Symptoms of depression include generalized fatigue, sore muscles and joints, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, a lack of enjoyment of previously enjoyed activities, and at times, suicidal ideation. Depression is a serious mental illness that is physical in nature as well. If you are teaching a Yoga class and any of your students approach you to discuss symptoms of depression, it is recommended that you advise your student to seek appropriate health care from his or her family doctor or licensed health care professional. If depression is left untreated for extended periods of time, both physical and mental symptoms can increase to the point of being life-threatening. 





Teaching mood elevating Yoga classes is a wonderful adjunct tool for addressing both the mental and physical symptoms of depression. A physically challenging practice that raises the heart rate, expunges toxins from the system and strengthens and tones the entire body, will offset some of the physical symptoms of depression, including deep-seated fatigue and muscle achiness. When postures are taught in conjunction with pranayama techniques, such as Ujjayi Pranayama, the mood elevating aspects of the practice will be greatly enhanced. 

Back bending postures are some of the most effective Yoga poses for helping to expand the entire chest cavity, while releasing tension in the shoulders, throat and neck areas. These are some of the most common physical areas of the body that are negatively impacted by anxiety and depression. When we feel very anxious or angry, it is quite common for many of us to hunch up our shoulders, collapse our heart area and constrict our throat chakra in an attempt to maintain peace, which often ends up being at the expense of our own well-being. 

However, by contracting these different areas in the front of the body, the flow of vital life force energy, known as Prana or Chi, is greatly impeded. When the energy is impeded in this way, a heavy sense of lethargy begins to sink into the body. Back bending postures gently stimulate the adrenal glands in the back of the body, which acts as a natural caffeine boost without the caffeine! Stimulating the adrenal glands helps to balance the entire body and increases the level of energy flowing throughout the subtle energy channels, known in Yoga as “nadis.”

Ustrasana, or Camel Pose, is one of the most profoundly effective back bending postures for alleviating depression. You can safely teach Camel Pose to many different levels of Yoga students with appropriate modifications, such as the use of a block. The benefits of Camel Pose include: lengthening the quadriceps, opening up the hip flexors, stimulating circulation in the pelvic area, greatly expanding the heart chakra area and releasing tension in the shoulders, neck and throat. It is also very effective for elevating one’s mood and promoting a sense of expanse of well-being. 

Camel Pose is usually practiced during the second half of a Yoga class, after series of Sun Salutations, standing postures and balancing asanas. It is often practiced just prior to seated forward folds, seated twisting postures and finishing postures, such as Shoulder Stand, Plow and Shavasana. When you are ready to lead your students through the practice of Camel Pose, ask them to kneel on their mats with their knees slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. 

If any of your Yoga students have sensitive knees and need some extra padding, have them place a folded blanket underneath their knees. If some of your students are particularly tight to the front of the torso or the quadriceps muscles, have them place a block at an appropriate height, just outside each ankle. The height of the block will depend on the level of flexibility of each particular student. When your students are ready, guide them through the practice of Camel Pose for three repetitions. 

When they have completed the practice of Ustrasana, have your students rest in Extended Child’s Pose for several breaths before proceeding to the next asana. Do keep in mind that by allowing at least ten minutes for your students to rest in Corpse Pose at the end of class, you'll be further facilitating the release of tension. By dedicating at least ten minutes to the practice of Shavasana, you will allow your students to truly relax in the quiet afterglow of a comprehensive 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 specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com

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

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Teaching Yoga Outside: Grounding

teaching yoga outside
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

Practicing and teaching Yoga outside is a welcome breath of fresh air for those of us who spend most of our time in an office and behind the wheel of a car, as we commute back and forth to work each day. In geographical areas that have distinctly four seasons, it is often not possible to teach Yoga outside. However, during the warmer spring, summer and fall months, offering outdoor classes to your Yoga students will provide them with the opportunity to connect to the rhythms of the natural world. 




Although many Yoga students are instantly connected to both local and international events on a moment to moment basis, through such platforms as Twitter and Facebook, they often do not have an intimate connection to the earth beneath their own two feet. The constant immersion in the electromagnetic field that is generated by all of our gadgets has the ability to shift circadian rhythms and undermine the health of our endocrine systems. When this happens, the ability to sleep deeply and restoratively is negatively impacted, which also negatively impacts the functioning of the immune system. 

When the immune system is compromised, chronic long-term diseases are likely to develop over time. An easy, enjoyable and pleasant way to discharge excess electromagnetic energy and to balance the endocrine system, including the natural sleep-wake cycle, is to practice and teach Yoga in an outdoor environment. Researchers, who are investigating the benefits of grounding, are finding that the simple act of connecting directly to the earth helps to balance the various systems of the body in a natural and gentle way. 

Of course, when the body is balanced, one’s overall health is improved and long-term chronic diseases are less likely to develop. By offering Yoga classes in an outdoor setting, you will be inviting your students to engage in grounding on the earth, while also receiving the multiple benefits of a well-rounded Yoga practice. It is important to note that the beneficial effects of discharging excess electromagnetic energy, through grounding on the earth, are only felt if you or your students connect directly to the earth with bare feet. 




This grounding process does not work as well if you are teaching Yoga outside on a concrete or cement platform. It is optimal to teach classes directly on the earth, if possible. Some easily accessible locations to teach classes in an outdoor venue are local parks and beaches. In addition, if you offer Yoga classes at a local community center, health club or school, you may also be able to teach classes outside on the grassy area surrounding the property. If you encounter a situation where you can teach some classes outside, but not directly on the earth, the simple act of spending time in the sunlight will also help to promote healthy circadian rhythms and boost vitamin D levels, which will help to lower inflammation throughout the body. 

By teaching Yoga outside, you will also breath fresh air into your classes. You may remember the excitement that you felt when your high school teacher or college professor announced that your class would be held outside in the fragrant spring air. In the same way, many of your Yoga students may feel a sense of excitement and fresh enthusiasm for the practice when you announce that your will be teaching your class outside today! In this way, you will not only support your students’ overall good health, you will also spark new interest in your Yoga classes. 

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 specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com

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

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Courage and Teaching Yoga: Setting Boundaries

stick to these boundaries
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

One of the most challenging aspects of day-to-day life for many of us, is to set appropriate boundaries and to stick to these boundaries without apology. There are so many demands on our time, financial resources and attention, that it is imperative to find a balance between your own individual needs and the needs of those around you. This balance can be quite tricky to find, to be sure. Many times, our own needs are interwoven with the needs of those around us, which makes it difficult to identify and establish appropriate boundaries for ourselves. 



The challenging task of finding a healthy balance between your own needs and the needs of those around you is very evident when you are teaching a Yoga class. For instance, you may have a strong need for all of your students to arrive ina timely fashion, put away all of their personal belonging and turn their cell phones on silent before stepping onto the mat. It may feel very disrespectful and distracting to you as a Yoga teacher, to have a number of your students straggle in to class ten minutes late, and then proceed to check their text messages when they finally do step onto the mat! 

However, what you may not realize is that the student who is ten minutes late has just rushed from work, in order to take your class. Or the Yoga student who is constantly checking her text messages has a child in the hospital. The scenarios are almost endless. By maintaining a degree of personal communication with your students, you are more likely to be aware of the personal life circumstances, which may be creating a situation that predisposes them to being late quite frequently. On the other hand, clearly communicating your need to have your Yoga students on their mats and ready to start class in a timely manner is also just as important. 

As a Yoga teacher, you may find it to be challenging to put your own needs front and center, even just for a few minutes at the beginning or ending of a class. These are time periods during a class when students will often either come late or want to leave early. By explicitly stating your strong preference for your students to be on time and stay for Shavasana, you will be establishing appropriate boundaries during your Yoga classes and embodying the spirit of courage. 

At the same time, by maintaining a flexible stance on the boundaries you have established for your Yoga classes, you will also encourage those students who have very busy schedules or transportation issues to attend your classes. One of the most likely reasons that you have chosen to pursue a career as a certified Yoga teacher is the desire to serve others. By teaching Yoga in a competent, kind manner, you pave the way for your students to benefit physically and emotionally from a comprehensive practice of asanas, meditation techniques and calming breathing exercises. 

In addition, it is important to remember that your Yoga students learn more optimal ways of navigating difficult situations in their own lives, when they watch how you handle difficulties in your classes and in your personal interactions with your students. A sense of fairness and compromise with your students will go a long way towards exemplifying a state of balance, intuition and wisdom. Not only is a state of balance and being centered a hallmark of a great Yoga teacher, this state is also indicative of a dedicated Yoga practitioner, who is putting the profound teachings of Yoga into practice in his or her own life.

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 specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. 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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Friday, June 19, 2015

Teaching Yoga Outside: Slowing Down

outdoor classes
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

In every living being on the earth, there is an internal pulsation of expansion and contraction, which is linked to the breath. This pulsation of life is deeply and inexorably connected to the resonant rhythm of the earth itself. By teaching Yoga outside, you will support your students in aligning themselves more fully with the natural rhythms that surround us all the time. When we are more aligned with the expansion and contraction of natural energy throughout the day, we are more deeply able to relax and feel supported by the earth. 



In our fast-paced, electronically driven world, the natural pulsation of life that is so easy to feel when we are in nature is often obscured. Many of us stay up far past sunset watching movies or surfing the Internet because of our easy access to electricity, which powers artificial lighting and most of our electronic gadgets, including computers, televisions and iPads - Although these gadgets are tremendously helpful and a source of enjoyment, they can also disturb our biorhythms if we stare at the brightly lit screens well into the night. 

In fact, many circadian rhythm researchers are finding that the blue wavelength light of many computer screens, iPads and televisions directly prevent the pituitary gland from secreting melatonin into the blood stream. Melatonin is a critical hormone for regulating healthy sleep patterns. When this hormone’s balance in the brain is lessened, it can be quite difficult to fall asleep and/or to stay asleep. In addition, the amount of electromagnetic energy that most of us absorb from the devices that constantly surround us also disturbs the healthy functioning of the endocrine system, which has far reaching negative consequences for our health over the long run. 

If you are able to teach some or all of your Yoga classes outside, weather permitting of course, you will support your Yoga students in optimizing their cadence with the natural rhythms of the earth. Teaching Yoga classes outside will also allow your students to feel soothed by the slower, predictable pace of the natural world. For example, melting into Seated Forward Fold while watching the sun dip below the horizon is much more soothing than being surrounded by beeps, buzzing and a general cacophony of people talking on their cell phones or watching television, as they work out at a health club. 

On the other hand, of course it is better that people are exercising and engaging with other people, rather than simply staying at home, sitting on the couch and watching television. As a professional Yoga teacher, you are probably well aware of how powerfully therapeutic a regular practice of Yoga postures, pranayama exercises and meditation or relaxation techniques can be. By offering your students classes in a natural outdoor environment, you will further support the balancing and rejuvenating benefits of a regular Yoga practice. Keeping the interest of your students and increasing their commitment to their practice is a key component of curating a dedicated group of Yoga students. 



As a Yoga teacher, you will generate new energy and enthusiasm for the practice when your offer classes in a different setting, even if it is on the roof top of a health club, on the beach or in a local park. Practicing and teaching Yoga outside will help your students to slow down, breath more deeply and feel the earth beneath their mats. Flowing through a vinyasa practice, which slows down with the setting sun, will very naturally calm the body and mind and support your students in letting go of the concerns of the day. When your Yoga students let go of the concerns of the day they will be able to truly rest during the night, so that they are rejuvenated and ready for the next day ahead. 

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 specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com

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

See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of online yoga teacher certification courses.


Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks.