Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Teaching Yoga Classes that Foster Courage: Bhastrika Pranayama

relaxation techniques
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

There are many different ways to structure Yoga class. Of course, the way that you structure your Yoga classes will largely depend on the composition of the students in your class. For example, if you are teaching a group of senior citizens in a retirement home, the type and pacing of your Yoga class will be far different than if you're teaching a group of college students in the university gymnasium! With creativity and experience, you will find that there are a great many variations and nuances to creating an effective, challenging and safe Yoga class that can be modified to accommodate a wide diversity of students.

When you are creating a sequence of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to guide your students through during the course of your class, it is important to keep in mind the students whom you are teaching and the underlying focal point of the class itself. Many Yoga instructors use the guiding principle of performing a pinnacle pose as a foundation upon which to string a series of asanas during their class. For instance, if you are teaching a beginning to intermediate Yoga class, and the pinnacle posture you have chosen is Crow Pose, you may want to guide your students through a series of beginning balancing postures and hip opening poses, so that they can practice Crow Pose in a safe and successful manner. 

On the other hand, you can also structure your Yoga classes around the enhancement of different inner states, or bhavs, such as peacefulness, compassion and courage. By structuring a class in a such a way that the class itself fosters these uplifting emotional states of being, you will help your students to truly embody and integrate the lessons of this ancient practice into all areas of their lives off the mat. When your Yoga students begin to learn that they can move through their preconceived limitations and achieve the goals that they have set for themselves in a safe and successful manner, their self-esteem and sense of competency will increase naturally, which will positively impact their day-to-day lives. 

* Bhastrika Pranayama

A very effective Yogic breathing exercise is Bhastrika Pranayama. Bhastrika Pranayama, or Bellows Breath, helps to clear away the cobwebs in the mind, invigorate the entire body and release deeply held mental stress and tension. This vigorous pranayama exercise also helps to oxygenate all of the tissues in the body and increase the flow of the lymphatic system, which will boost the functioning of the immune system and enhance overall health and well being. 

Bellows Breath is one of the best pranayama exercises to practice just before guiding your students through a series of physical Yoga postures, because it fans the flames of their inner fire, or agni, which energizes a student's practice. During the practice of Bhastrika Pranayama, each inhalation and exhalation should be complete and deep. The ratio of each inhalation and exhalation should also be equal. When you're ready to teach your students Bhastrika Pranayama, have them come to a comfortable seated position on their Yoga mats. 

If any of your students have hips that are tight and are uncomfortable with sitting directly on their Yoga mats, have them sit on a folded blanket underneath them for a more comfortable position. This breathing exercise can also be practiced in a chair, as long as your students sit comfortably erect and place both of their feet directly on the floor. 
When your students are ready to begin the practice of Bhastrika Pranayama, have them slightly contract the back of their throats. By contracting the back of the throat slightly, the intensity of this pranayama exercise will be increased naturally and gently. 

The contraction of the glottis at the back of the throat is this same pressure that is created during the practice of Ocean Sounding Breath, or Ujjayi Pranayama. In this way, the fiery aspect of this pranayama exercise will be naturally magnified. Guide your students through several rounds of Bhastrika Pranayama. When they have completed their final round, ask your students to sit for a moment and feel the energetic clarity and the fullness of heart that has been generated by this fiery pranayama practice. Both of these inner qualities are seminal to fostering a courageous state of being.

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 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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1 comment:

parvezbdjsr said...

Bhastrika Pranayama, helps to clear away the cobwebs in the mind, invigorate the entire body and release deeply held mental stress and tension. So its very useful for structuring a yoga class. Thanks for this good posting.