Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Yoga for Students with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

find the right instructor
By Sangeetha Saran

Yoga is generally safe and beneficial for a wide range of health issues. However certain pre-existing medical conditions may not benefit from regular practice. Students should be mindful of how their health and yoga practice interact. The following tips are helpful for students with a pre-existing medical condition.

Talk to the Doctor

Students with any pre-existing health concerns should consult with their physician prior to beginning a new yoga practice or changing their usual routine. Their doctor is more knowledgeable about their specific condition and can advise against or for certain movements or postures. While you may have detailed information about yoga you cannot speak for medical concerns.

Educate Themselves

A student with a pre-existing condition should make all efforts to educate themselves on their condition and what they need to do to keep their health in check. This means not only talking with their doctor but also finding out what they can do in regards to their yoga practice and if there are any restrictions they need to be aware of.



Finding the Right Instructor

There may be an instructor who is more knowledgeable in working with a certain pre-existing condition. Encourage students to find the right instructor for them and their needs. A student who may have glaucoma or a cardiovascular issue may need a class that does not move through inversions or a modified sequence.

Inform the Studio about Medical Concerns

Similar to finding the right instructor a new yoga student should enclose any information about their pre-existing condition that the studio may need to know for their safety. Since the student's health and well being is the studio's main concern the studio management can decide whether or not the student should continue to practice at their studio.

Listen to their Bodies

All yoga students should be encouraged to listen to their bodies to avoid pushing themselves too far and risking injury. If a student feels discomfort, pain, dizziness or ill they should stop immediately. The body is their measure of health and if it says otherwise students should not try to push their limits and risk harm.



Yoga Safety Tips for Students with Medical Conditions

While the many health benefits of yoga receive the most attention there are scenarios where being mindful of safety is key. Students who may have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or may be pregnant need to approach their yoga practice with caution. Here are some ways you can help students practice safely while enjoying the full benefits of yoga.

Consult a Physician - Anyone who is beginning a new fitness program should consult their doctor before starting to make sure they are safe to do so. Encourage students who have concerns about their health and yoga to talk to their doctor who knows more about their particular condition.

Listening to the Body- While students may be watching you for instruction on the asanas they also need to keep an ear to what their body says. Advise students not to strain themselves just to reach a certain pose and to stop if they feel pain or discomfort. Remind students that yoga is non-competitive and going beyond their limits is not what the practice is about.

High Blood Pressure Concerns - Regular yoga practice helps lower blood pressure but there are some guidelines that should be followed. Students with HBP, heart or circulation issues should avoid poses where the head is below the heart and poses that increase heart rate. They should also control their breathing and avoid holding their breath.



Pregnancy Concerns - While yoga provides many benefits during pregnancy students should approach their practice with caution. Some poses may need to be modified or they should avoid certain poses altogether. Encourage pregnant students to look into prenatal yoga classes if they are offered. These specialized classes incorporate the postures that are safest to use during pregnancy while maintaining students' safety.

Yoga during Menstruation - There are several myths around doing yoga during menstruation. However, not all women are the same. Women who are menstruating may find pain relief from cramps in certain poses or may wish to avoid yoga practice during this time. Women who are menstruating should listen to their bodies during yoga practice and avoid poses that cause pain or discomfort.

© Copyright 2016 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Benefits of Teaching Chair Yoga: Accessibility

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Chair Yoga classes offer students many of the same benefits as traditional classes. A regular practice of asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques offers students an increased level of flexibility, more physical strength and a calmer, more focused mind. As a certified Yoga teacher, you are probably aware of the profound transformation that can occur when a practitioner commits to a regular practice. In the same way, participatingin Chair Yoga classes several times a week will offer students many of the same benefits as a traditional Yoga class.



It is quite common for individuals, who are challenged with any number of health issues, to feel intimidated about participating in a traditional Yoga class. Some of the more common health issues that affect a student's ability to safely and comfortably participate in regular Yoga class are healing from surgery, healing from a traumatic brain injury, older students, and students with underlying serious health issues, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. When you offer Chair Yoga classes to these specialized groups of students, you will be enabling them to reap the benefits of a regular practice in a safe and accessible manner.

Generally speaking, there are two categories of students who frequently seek out Chair Yoga classes. The first category of students is often comprised of experienced Yoga practitioners, who are dealing with some type of challenging physical health issue. The second category of students is usually made up of practitioners who are new to the practice, but who have heard about how effective and helpful a regular practice of Yoga can be during the process of healing from a serious illness or injury. 



Many of the new students who are drawn to Chair Yoga classes have been quite physically active in the past. Other new students may be motivated to take a Chair Yoga class because their doctor told them that they need to get more exercise, in order to improve their level of physical health. In either case, a regular practice of Yoga, with or without a chair, will benefit all of the students mentioned above. Additionally, when you offer Chair Yoga classes to students in your community, who feel more comfortable practicing with the support of a chair, you are doing a great service. 

Many of these students would otherwise not participate in any form of physical fitness if you did not offer accessible and welcoming Chair Yoga classes. There is a fine art to sequencing an effective, safe and challenging Chair Yoga class. The way that you sequence a class will depend on the group of students whom you're teaching. There are many different ways to sequence Chair Yoga classes, in order to more fully and appropriately accommodate the specialized group of students with whom you are working.



If you are a newly certified Yoga teacher, by offering Chair Yoga classes in your community, you will also carve out a specialized niche for yourself as a teacher. Depending on the area where you live, securing a paid position as a Yoga teacher in a local studio or health club may be quite competitive. In addition, if you are planning on opening up your own Yoga studio, you may find that the market where you live and work is quite difficult to break into. By offering specialized classes, you will be creating a teaching niche for yourself, which will help you to be more competitive as you establish yourself in your community as a professional Yoga teacher.

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: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Clearing the Clutter with Yoga: Aparigraha

about hoarding
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

As the temperatures begin to increase in the temperate areas of the world, you may be finding yourself longing to clear the clutter out of your living space. In a similar fashion, you may also long to create spaciousness and peace in your own mind and heart. In order to create a spacious, peaceful internal state, it is often necessary to come to terms with unresolved, painful life experiences. Resolving painful life experiences helps to lift the energy of trauma, disappointment and grief from both the body and the mind. In doing so, the sense of internal clutter is dissolved and an abiding field of spaciousness opens up within our own being. 



"Aparigraha" is a Sanskrit term that is translated as, "non-hoarding, non-possessiveness and non-attachment." It is part of the Yogic system of moral restraints, known in Sanskrit as the Yamas. Of course, by holding onto too many possessions, your living space may become far too cramped and cluttered. This will prevent a feeling of lightness and cleanliness in your home. In the same way, holding onto unresolved, difficult life experiences in your body and mind will create a heavy feeling of lethargy, anger, sadness, and even depression. Clearly, the Yogic scriptures admonish us from engaging in hoarding, possessiveness and strong attachments if we want to be able to romance the light of the divine in our own hearts. 

There are many ways to put Aparigraha into practice in our daily lives. For instance, engaging in spring-cleaning is a yearly ritual for many of us that help us to organize our living spaces. In the same way, by following a spring detoxification dietary program, you will be able to cleanse your body of toxins that may have built up in your system over the winter months. A seasonal cleanse is highly recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners, Yoga's sister science of health and well being. If you are contending with any serious health issues, you may want to consult your health care provider before engaging in a spring detoxification nutritional program. 




Similarly, if you have experienced any particularly difficult life events that remain unresolved, you may want to work in tandem with a mental health professional, such as a therapist, counselor or psychologist. If you feel that you are able to resolve some of the lingering after effects of painful life events without the support of a professional mental health provider, you may find that writing your thoughts down in a journal, painting or talking to a trusted friend or spiritual adviser may help to lighten your internal clutter and allow you mind to settle into a peaceful state of awareness. 

The practice of Yoga can be a tremendous tool for illuminating problematically cluttered areas in your life. I find that the way that I approach my Yoga practice on the mat directly reflects how I approach my life off the mat. For instance, I often keep practicing vigorous standing postures, even when the rest of the class is resting in Shavasana! In the same way, I frequently work late into the evening, during the time of day when most of my friends and family are resting. This awareness has helped me to slow down and try to include some unstructured time in my daily schedule. 



During a Yoga class or personal practice, you may find that your are "cluttering up" your time on the mat with too many postures without allowing yourself the time to perform pranayama, meditation or rest for 5-10 minutes in Final Relaxation Pose. By creating space in your practice for soothing and balancing breathing exercises, such as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama and Dirga Pranayama, as well as a brief period of meditation and resting for a minimum of 5 minutes in Shavasana, you will give both your body and mind the message that it is ok to relax and that you have done enough for one day. In addition, by including some restorative seated forward folds into your Yoga practice, you will further support yourself in the process of releasing any unnecessary clutter in your mind and body. 

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: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Teaching Renewing Yoga Classes: Slow Flow Vinyasa

slow flow vinyasa class
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

As I sit down to write this article, I glance up at the beautiful pink lotus in front of me, which is prominently displayed on my wall calendar. The quote on the page is by Jack Kornfield. He states, “The unstoppable spirit of renewal is in you. Trust it. Learn that it flows through you and all of life.” With the unseasonably warm temperatures in the Northeastern United States this year, spring is already on the way, even though it is only the first week in March. 

The delicate buds of the first flowers are beginning to peak out from under the leaves and the birds are returning to nest in the woods just outside my door. As the pulsation of life begins to strengthen and infuse the plants and flowers around us with new life, your Yoga students will also begin to feel the desire to renew their own life force energy. Guiding your students through a balanced Yoga class is a wonderful way for enhancing the flow of chi, or prana, throughout the body and mind of your students. 



One of the most creative and fundamental aspects of being an effective and inspiring Yoga teacher is the ability to tailor your classes to the needs of your students. This includes seasonal considerations. In the early days of spring, breaking up stagnant energy, cleaning one’s living space and detoxifying the body through cleansing dietary regimes are natural responses to the renewing energy of the springtime. 

By replicating the gently increasing flow of life energy during the spring season into your Yoga classes, you will help your students to align their own bodies and minds with this regenerative process. One way to replicate the energy of the springtime in your classes is by beginning your classes slowly, and then methodically and gently increasing the pace of the flow of asanas that you have chosen to guide your students through, before cooling down the practice with a series of grounding forward folds, prone postures and Shavasana. 

For example, if you think about the process that a flower goes through during the first light of the morning, the bud reaches towards the light, as the delicate petals begin to open and expand into the rays of the sun. During the full brightness of midday, a flower will usually be fully open, in order to saturate itself with the bounty of the sunlight. At dusk, the same flower will often close its petals and rest for the night in a protected cocoon of its own making. This sense of being cocooned can be likened to the restorative and soothing benefits of Shavasana when it is practiced with a Yoga bolster under the knees for comfort, a blanket for warmth and an aromatherapy eye pillow for natural stress relief. 



As a certified Yoga teacher, you a have the opportunity to creatively sequence your classes in such a way that the natural pulsation of the seasons is reflected in the flow of postures through which you guide your students. By beginning your Yoga class with Extended Child’s Pose, and then leading your students through a series of slow flowing Sun Salutations, standing asanas, balancing poses, backbends, seated forward folds, inversions, and Final Relaxation Pose, you will be replicating the expansive pulsation of life, as evidenced by the beautiful unfolding of the petals of early spring flowers. 

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: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about our selection of online teacher certification courses.

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