Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nurturing Harmony In A Yoga Class: Truth

correct alignment
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed. 

If you are fluent in two or more languages, you have probably noticed that there are slight qualitative differences in the way that cultures describe daily life events, various emotions and states of being. The ancient language of Yoga, Sanskrit, has a word "niscintata" that refers to being in a state of harmony, both with oneself and one's surroundings. The many-layered meaning of niscintata is encapsulated by B.K.S. Iyengar's definition of vibrant physical health and mental well being. 

B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the most well-known and highly reputed Yoga teachers. He brought this ancient practice to the west several decades ago. He stated that: "Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open up." This is a beautiful way of describing the state of harmony with one's self and one's surroundings, which is enfolded in the layered meanings of the ancient Sanskrit term, niscintata. This state of well being is also grounded in being free from mental agitation. 

When you're teaching a Yoga class, there is a very fine balance between honoring and standing in your own truth as a certified instructor and honoring the truth of your students' experiences. There is also a shared experience that is created between a Yoga teacher and his or her students. Honoring the interplay between you and your students is important, as you fine-tune your method of teaching. As a professional Yoga instructor, you are undoubtedly well versed in the precise, correct alignment of the asanas and human anatomy. In addition, you are probably well versed in how to sequence a class so that it is balanced, challenging and safe for your students. 

However, you may not have been trained in the art of deep listening and mindful awareness practices. These practices will help augment the training that you received during your Yoga certification program. In many ways, it is just as important to be able to listen to your students with mindful awareness, as it is to know the precise drishti point in a Yoga posture. If you do not listen to your students with compassionate, mindful awareness, you may end up pushing some of your students too hard into postures that they are not yet ready to practice, or you may not provide your students with the type and intensity of Yoga class from which they would most benefit. 

Of course, it is critically important to know how to teach Yoga postures, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques correctly and with precision. When you incorporate being mindfully aware of how your students are approaching their time on the Yoga mat, you will be more able to subtly shift the practice, in order to fully support your students in coming into harmony, both with themselves and with their surroundings. The ability to effectively support your students in the unfolding process of coming into a state of union or harmony with themselves truly underlies the essential intention of a Yoga practice. 

In addition to standing in your own truth as a professional Yoga teacher, it is also important to honor the subjective experience of your students. For instance, you may have a student in your class who suffered a knee injury while skiing several years ago. As you guide your students through a series of postures, including kneeling postures such as Camel Pose, this student may feel more comfortable using a folded blanket on his or her Yoga mat, in order to provide extra padding for the knees. By listening to your students’ needs and concerns during class, you will be respecting and honoring the innate wisdom of your students, which will further nurture a state of harmonious equanimity 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 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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1 comment:

parvezbdjsr said...

Thank you for posting this informative article.