By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When teaching students about “living in the moment,” where do you begin? When a student has just come into your class from work, he or she may still be stressed out over commuter traffic, deadlines, quotas, or a family crisis.

All of the talk about finding pure consciousness “goes in one ear and out the other.” On top of this, some of your students are worried about tomorrow. There are plenty of reasons for people to worry, with the present state of relationships, job security, finances, health care, raising children, and more.

So, where do you start to explain or demonstrate living in the moment? It starts with the very first time your students become present for their practice. The first level of existence, the average Hatha Yoga student can feel, is the physical body. You will waste your time teaching a student about intuitive enlightenment, until he or she has made a connection with the physical body.

Is Asana the first step? Not exactly, and not according to the eight limbs of Yoga, as described by Maharishi Patanjali. Should we teach our students the values of Yama and Niyama first? Sorry, but that will not work in Western cultures.

Asana is part of the answer, but Pranayama (Yogic breathing technique), is the key. It is Pranayama, during Asana practice, which joins physical and mental awareness. Some students claim they had not reached this level of awareness since they were children. Better yet, some students have admitted that they were living on auto-pilot, until they discovered this level of mental and physical awareness.

At this point, some literature about the values of Yama and Niyama will benefit your students. Please consider that we have not yet discussed basic meditation or higher levels of meditation.

Is a student ready for meditation, if he or she has not learned to be present for the physical practice of Yoga? Truthfully, it is doubtful that he or she will be able to relax enough to meditate.

Beginner Yoga students have to learn to “unplug” from the technological world around them, and develop a basic level of level of mental and physical awareness, before learning to successfully meditate.

There is an old saying: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.” Now, I am not comparing people to pigs, but if a pig mastered mental and physical awareness, it might be possible for him or her to sing next. In other words, there is a time for everything, in the learning process, but it must happen in the proper sequence.

If you want to help your students, teach them to be present for practice, and teach them how to relax. The higher aspects of Yoga will always be there, but Pranayama is the first key.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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