By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Not all of the styles mentioned in this series will be popular with every teacher, but the objective is to provide you with a variety of options. Some of them will be extremely physical and some will be less taxing on the body.
Power Yoga: Many things come to mind when we hear these, but the roots of this style are usually related to Ashtanga Yoga. This is not always the case, but more often, than not, Power Yoga is a physical offshoot of Ashtanga.
Thinking about this style may conjure up vivid images of Yoga teachers like Beryl Bender Birch, Bryan Kest, or Baron Baptiste. This is a vigorous form of Ashtanga with a bit of a Western “twist.” Classes are usually filled with younger adult students and active athletes.
These are not classes for students with ailments, or for beginners who just “jumped off the couch.” Power Yoga is a fantastic system of exercises, but if you are going to teach any form of Power type classes, you have to be completely honest with prospective students. The physical challenge of a Power class is not for everyone and it is not for a student who wants to learn a style that is on the therapeutic side.
For example: A middle-aged, inactive, beginner student, should be guided to a gentle style, if he or she wants to pursue the study of Hatha. This student will learn the basics, safety guidelines, and contraindications that apply to his or her body. After a few months of regular practice, this Yoga student will see the path of infinite possibilities open, and then make an educated choice from what he or she has learned.
The injury of a student, due to the teacher’s desire to “fill up classes,” is morally and ethically wrong. Complete honesty with students is not often taught when we are trained to become a Yoga teacher. However, Yoga instructors are often trained to be gentle guides along the path toward total health.
Being completely blunt about a prospective student’s limitations – might be bad for business. Whenever a student is injured, the instructor will often feel remorse, even if the situation was completely unforeseen. The above-mentioned scenario, of an unfit student going into a vigorous class, can easily be seen. If you do not have a questionnaire for new students, you should design one now, even if you have never had a single problem.
This is not meant to “steer you away” from teaching Power classes or to prevent you from learning to become a Power Yoga instructor. Power classes are very rewarding to participate in and to teach.
When considering the needs of new students, always be diplomatic, and guide potential students toward their best choice. Unfortunately, this sometimes means we must guide them to the teacher down the street.
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