Sunday, February 28, 2016

Truth in Teaching Yoga Training Sessions

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

Last night, as I was practicing a fluid, vinyasa Yoga class with Janet Stone, she kept reminding her virtual students to remember to exhale and release the constant state of doing. As I was practicing along with Janet, I was struck by how difficult it was for me to slow down and allow myself enough time to exhale fully! In the West, there seems to be a particularly strong emphasis on constantly striving, doing and accomplishing all of the tasks on our daily to-do lists, often at the expense of allowing ourselves to truly rest and rejuvenate our vital life force energy. 

As a certified Yoga instructor, you are probably well aware of how important a balanced flow of active postures and restorative poses is when you are teaching a class. If you constantly emphasize only the more vigorous standing asanas and challenging arm balances, your students will certainly increase their physical strength, but they may feel exhausted at the end of your class instead of rejuvenated. By sequencing a class in such a way that you offer your students a balanced array of physically strengthening and restorative Yoga postures, your students will more fully benefit from their practice. 

In Sanskrit, there is a term that embodies the many-layered aspects of living in harmony with oneself and one’s surrounding. This term is, “niscintata.” Living in a harmonious flow with oneself, one’s community and the external environment helps to deeply facilitate an abiding sense of well being. On the other hand, to live in disharmony with one’s own internal truth is quite draining and can also cause anxiety and resentment. For many of us, we often experience disharmony in our daily lives when we feel pressure to not speak up for ourselves, in order to maintain the status quo.  

For instance, if somebody cuts in front of you at the grocery store, and you are on your way to teach a Yoga class in a few minutes, do you say something to that person or do you quietly let them cut in front of you and not say anything? By not saying anything, you are mostly likely disregarding and swallowing your own truth, and this could make you late to teach your Yoga class! In the same way, your students may also encounter many instances throughout their day when they are tempted to not speak their own truth, in order to keep the peace. 

Many Yoga practitioners, teachers and students alike also have some difficulty in clearly figuring out what their internal needs and truth actually are on a moment-to-moment basis. When you teach a Yoga class that is balanced between the more active postures and the quieter, more internally focused restorative poses; you will provide an opportunity for your students to slow down enough to get in touch with their own feelings and needs. This will help your students to begin to move through their lives with more integrity and honesty. When your students are more in touch with their own internal truth, they will be much more likely to live in such a way that they are in harmony with themselves, which can facilitate their ability to be in harmony with others in their community and with their external environment.

In order to physically support your Yoga students in the unfolding process of harmonizing their lives from the “inside out,” weaving into your classes a number of back bending postures will help to release constriction around the throat chakra, which is quite common when we swallow our truth. There are many back bending postures that are accessible to a wide diversity of students, including Camel Pose and Upward Facing Plank Pose. Both of these Yoga postures can be practiced in a modified fashion. In addition, there are a number of asanas that have a back bending component to them, including Downward Facing Dog, Warrior 1 and Extended Child’s Pose. By regularly including some of these Yoga postures into your classes, you will more fully support your students in speaking the truth, which will help them to live more fully in harmony with themselves and with their community. 

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:

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Celebrating Life with Yoga: Sun Salutations

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

This evening it is a cold, misty, rainy February night in the Catskill Mountains of New York. As I sit down to write this article about celebrating life with Yoga, I am reminded of a conversation that I had with some friends a few nights ago. One of these friends is a certified Yoga teacher at the 500-hour level and the other friend is a professional musician, who specializing in playing sacred chants from India. Although both of these individuals are well versed in how to cultivate a positive mental outlook through the practice of Yoga postures, breathing exercises, chanting and meditating, they are both struggling with a degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of mild to moderate depression that often occurs during the dark, winter months, particularly in areas of the world that have a limited amount of natural sunlight during the winter time. When we do not get enough natural sunlight to sustain adequate levels of serotonin, many of us often feel a bit dysphoric or mildly depressed. For some individuals, this depression may be serious enough to necessitate ongoing support from a mental health professional and/or health care provider. There are also many ways of naturally boosting serotonin levels during the winter months, so that you are not susceptible to seasonal depression and the attendant inertia that can result from a chronic low mood. 

By continuing to stay physically active and socially engaged during the wintertime, you will be less likely to be impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder. In addition, by practicing vigorous Yoga postures, warming breathing exercises and replenishing relaxation techniques, you will be more likely to offset symptoms of dysphoria or mild depression. Romancing the sun energy during your Yoga practice will naturally help you to revitalize your body and mind. One way to “court sun energy” during a Yoga practice, is by grounding your practice within the context of a flowing series of Sun Salutations. 

The Sun Salutations are a series of flowing Yoga postures that are linked together by the breath. This series of Yoga poses warms up the entire body, as it moves the spine through a complete set of complementary movements. It is also very strengthening and helps the mind to quiet and come to a one pointed focus. If you are currently living in an area that is quite warm all year long, you may be able to practice Yoga outside in the direct sunlight. By practicing the Sun Salutations in an outdoor setting while you are facing the sun, the warming and energizing aspect of the series will be enhanced. If you live in a geographical area that is cold during the winter months, you may be able to practice Yoga in a studio or room that has large picture windows, so that you can place your mat in such a way that you are facing the sun, while you flow through the Sun Salutations.

Practicing the Sun Salutations while facing the sun, either through a large window or in an outdoor setting, will help you body’s bio-rhythms to come into alignment with the natural rhythms of the earth, which will help to create more harmony and balance in your body and mind. You may also want to consider heating up the room where you are practicing Yoga, so that you can benefit from an increased level of detoxification through heat. Of course, you will have to decide how much energy and money it will take to heat up the room where you are practicing, before attempting to replicate a Hot Yoga class in your own home studio! 

Still, during the cold winter months, heating a small room up even moderately will help your muscles to relax, which will help to increase your level of flexibility and the flow of energy throughout your subtle body. If you teach a Yoga class, and are able to lead a class in an environment outdoors, that is wonderful. If you are not able to teach a Yoga class outside, heating up your studio to a comfortably warm level will help your students to dispel the damp coldness of the winter months. In addition, by guiding them through a strong series of Sun Salutations, you will further support your students in the process of embodying the life giving essence of the sun. 

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:
© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

About Fitness Yoga Sequences

about fitness yoga
By Bhavan Kumar

Why did Yoga become popular? Yoga is a science, art, way of life and to many people, Yoga is the greatest exercise ever! Yoga is a popular form of exercise that offers health benefits that include improving heart health, reducing pain, increasing flexibility, and creating positive moods. There are many different types of posture sequences that improve your mind and body. The Sun Salutation is a popular sequence that warms the body and is a great way to wake up in the morning. Other popular sequences contain yoga asanas, which include the Downward Facing Dog, Happy Baby Pose and Upward Dog, which can also be found in many Vinyasa flows.

Sun Salutation

Follow the video above to see this sequence. The jump back is an option and you could step back into a lunge and then go into plank. This series of poses starts with a normal breath where you stand straight up with arms to the side. Inhale with your arms in the air and forward bend all the way over to exhale. As you practice each movement, you are practicing an inhale or an exhale. Dr. Paul mentions that as the body opens, you usually inhale. This often happens during back bends. As your body folds, you usually exhale. This is a general rule and there are always exceptions. Repeat this synchronized breathing and movement several times and increase repetitions, as you get stronger.

Downward Facing Dog

This popular pose starts with feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale while bending your body with hands spread wide and head in between arms. Keep the legs and arms straight with the tailbone pushed back and up. Beginners may start this pose with knees slightly bent until they become stronger. The spine should make a straight line from the tailbone to the top of the head. It is important that you do this asana correctly to gain benefits, such as: decompressing the spine.

Happy Baby Pose

This pose starts with you laying supine on your yoga mat with arms to your side and legs out in front of you. Bend your knees back toward your chest, with your feet in the air to grasp your feet. You will need to bend the knees to complete this pose. Hold for a count of 12.

Upward Dog

This pose will strengthen your back and increase your flexibility. Start by lying on your stomach. Use your arms to bring yourself upwards through plank, and into a back bend while holding for a count of 12. Be sure to inhale as you move your body upwards into the back bend and exhale when you complete the exercise to get the most out of this pose.

© Copyright 2016 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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