Teaching Hatha Yoga: Global Benefits for Public Health

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Teaching Hatha Yoga: Global Benefits for Public Health

yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When teaching Yoga classes do you wonder if you have done enough?  If you wonder what kind of impact one Yoga teacher can make on the world, all you have to do is observe the positive changes around you.  Public awareness of diet, social change, and preserving the environment is on the upswing.  At a time when lack of good health habits seems to be a common practice, Yoga has answers and many rewards.  Yogic philosophy is concerned with preventative health on every level of existence. There are many temptations, which can cause people to form bad health habits. Fast food, huge out-to-eat portions, television, video games, personal computers, and a perceived lack of time, to take care of ourselves; have combined to create global obesity.

At a time, when people have so much technology and wealth, it is hard to understand why people are also living in poverty and suffering from starvation. You might think that humans would have found better solutions to distribute food equally to those who are in need.  Granted, the efforts to feed those in need are better than ever, but we have not developed a perfect system.  Yet, you can see significant changes when Yoga teachers, business owners, religious leaders, school teachers and many more groups combine their efforts for food drives.  Public awareness is causing communities to become proactive and there is improvement.

Some people will say, “What wealth?” and “I am not rich.” Consider the past: Our ancestors worried about their next meal, shelter over their heads, and disease, much more than the average person does today.  If you are reading this on a computer, chances are the standard of living in your family line has improved over the past 100 years.  Yogic principles have helped humanity for 5,000 years. The art of living in moderation (aparigraha) and selfless service (Karma Yoga) are good for our neighbors and also good for us. Over consumption is a form of gluttony, which hurts two parties. The person who is starving could use the food, while the person who is consuming, for the sake of consuming, is injuring his or her health.

The case could easily be made that gluttony damages physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  When we over consume, we throw our health out of balance. We are doing the same thing to our entire planet.  We still burn fossil fuels, because many industries do not wish to change. The polar ice is melting at a rapid pace, so we are in denial and cut down trees at a faster pace.  When we cut down trees, we are cutting the “lungs of our planet” away. Through photosynthesis, one mature tree can produce enough oxygen for a family of four, for about one year.  Needless to say, if you have property, keep the trees on it in good health.  If you must cut a tree down, plant two to take its place.

Yoga instructors must teach the principles of aparigraha and Karma Yoga.  The health of the entire planet is at stake.  Make your Yoga students aware of small ways in which they can help.  As consumers, we can take action (karma) to guide the auto industry into manufacturing more hybrid automobiles, and eventually, phase out the current gasoline burning models. We can invest in companies which work to develop cleaner sources of energy.  So far, the action to make positive changes worldwide has begun, but we must remain dedicated to change for the sake of global health and future generations.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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