yoga certificationBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Which asanas or postures should you select? Some Hatha Yoga teacher certification courses have specific sequences, but many do not. How long should you hold each posture? What is the benefit of holding an asana for minutes at a time? Should you start or finish class with meditation? How should you incorporate pranayama within your class? These are some of the many questions that Yoga instructors must address and find solutions for.

Which asanas or pranayama techniques should you select? Some posture sequencing is considered so important that a few Yoga teachers and gurus have gone through the trouble of patenting and copywriting them. This is still a hot topic in some “Yogic circles,” but sequencing should ideally contain a mixture of standing, seated, table, supine, prone, balancing, and kneeling asanas.

This may not always be possible, if you are teaching a specialized class like chair or prenatal Yoga, but a wide variety of postures will have a multitude of health benefits for mind, body, and spirit. On the surface we know that Yogic exercise helps us live a better quality life with improvements in pain relief, immune system, circulation, removal of toxins, and a change to moderate dieting habits.

Therefore, any Yoga is better than none at all. This is why it is good to tell your students to add a small daily Yoga training routine to their lives. If they can practice longer that’s fine, but new students may have trouble fitting a few Yogic techniques into their lives for 15 minutes a day. This shows you how busy they are all day.

How long should a student hold each posture? If you are teaching a restorative or Iyengar style class, the postures will be held for a while. The purpose is for the above mentioned health benefits and to develop strength.

Most people who are not regular practitioners think of asana practice as a “stretch class,” but holding postures for more than 20 seconds starts to test the strength of your muscles. As the time gets longer your muscles let you know they are being worked and this is much less friction than joints are exposed to by many other exercise methods.

A vinyasa style class will not hold postures for long, but vinyasa classes are aerobic, while enhancing muscle tone, and flexibility. Some vinyasa enthusiasts insist it is the ultimate “cross training method.”

To be honest, most of the vinyasa students I teach are on average a generation younger than my restorative students, and my chair Yoga students are on average a generation older than my restorative students. So, the type of technique (asana, pranayama, meditation and relaxation) sequencing should address the health conditions of your students.

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