By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.
In many of the areas of the world today, there is a great emphasis on achievement. This implies achievement of all kinds, including educational, financial and social. The strong emphasis on achievement used to be the purview of primarily western European cultures. However, today there are many cultures throughout the world that stress high levels of achievement and accomplishment, over many other areas of life satisfaction.
As I was beginning to write this article, I was planning on writing about expanding self-love by generating more awareness about one’s own needs, particularly in the context of participating in or teaching a Yoga class. However, as I thought about the subject of self-love, I quickly realized that what many of us actually need is not just an awareness of what we need, but also the ability to slow down and have more patience with ourselves for simply having needs at all!
On the other hand, in our interwoven virtual world of immediate gratification, we are subconsciously taught that if a web page or Google calendar doesn’t load in a few seconds, we have a right to be annoyed and angry. This can translate into a devaluing of the ability to be patient and mindfully sit with our feelings, even if those feelings are uncomfortable. Many of us often want to get rid of those uncomfortable feelings immediately by closing a web page, rushing off to the next activity or quickly moving onto the next asana in our practice.
About Teaching Yoga
If you practice and teach Yoga regularly, you probably have learned how to breathe into areas of tension in your physical body. As an experience Yoga practitioner and teacher, you most likely have also learned how to “sit” with uncomfortable feelings and breath through them, as you nurture the self-awareness that will uncover the wisdom that underlies many somatized emotions and experiences. In the same way, when you teach a Yoga class, you will be able to gently help your students to expand their own self-love, by increasing an awareness of their own feelings and needs during a class.
As your Yoga students become more aware of what they need during a class, you can support them in appropriately meeting those needs, by making necessary modifications, resting when necessary and using a variety of props, in order to make challenging asanas more accessible. As a professional Yoga teacher, you are also in a unique position to teach your students how to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and sensations during a class. This ability to tolerate discomfort helps students to be able to tolerate uncomfortable feelings in daily life and to make appropriate changes when necessary.
Do keep in mind that the ability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and sensations, such as tight hip flexor muscles in Fire Log Pose, does not mean that a student should stay in a Yoga posture that is actually causing him or pain. This is a fine line for you to be aware of as a Yoga teacher. Checking in with your students during the course of a class will help you to determine if a student is working at an appropriate edge, or if he or she needs to back off a pose and practice a modified version of the posture or another posture all together.
Underlying the ability of your Yoga students to increase their awareness and compassion for themselves is mastering the skill of patience with their own physical and emotional progress on the mat. When a student is able to patiently explore his or her own physical and emotional needs, a varied, balanced practice of asana, pranayama methods and meditation techniques will offer the student life long benefits. In turn, by intuitively and creatively sequencing a Yoga class, so that a class is challenging, engaging and accessible for most of your students, you will be firmly supporting them in the process of expanding into greater levels of awareness, patience and self-love.
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: email@example.com.
© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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