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: email@example.com.
© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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