By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

With all the endorsements Hatha Yoga gets, you would think that new students might know the benefits of the practice. In fact, some surveys indicate that the majority of adults have never attended a Yoga class, in their lives. With that said, most teachers should have a prepared handout for new students, who arrive, and do not know what to expect in the different classes offered.

Usually, new students have no idea about the differences, features, and benefits, which can be gained by attending Yoga classes. They might have heard about Yoga from a friend, co-worker, family member, their family doctor, or they may have heard something on the news.

To simply state: “Yoga is good for flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular health.” – is nice, but it sounds like the promises the skeptical public often hears about the latest exercise fad or the ultimate food supplement. You need to find details, facts, and research related to Yoga; then let the pubic know about the health benefits of your classes.

Add to this fact, there are many variations of Hatha yoga, which is the most common style in the west. For example: Hot Yoga and Chair Yoga are both Hatha sub-styles, but they are very different. This is why some students are afraid to attend a “Beginners Gentle Yoga class.” They have seen the covers of magazines, with the latest Yogic version of “mission impossible.” As a result, prospective students picture themselves being physically tortured.

After all, many of us have heard that medicine has to taste bad to be good, and doctors are beginning to refer their patients to our classes, in hopes they will adopt a pro-active stance on health. Most doctors freely admit that they do not need more patients in their waiting rooms.

In turn, a larger population of people, living a healthy lifestyle, would take some of the strain off of our health care system. So far, we have only addressed physical health, but Yoga has many mental and emotional benefits, as well.

It is a well known fact that high levels of stress can cause a variety of illnesses, and some of them are fatal. This is where Yoga shines above any other health maintenance system, in regards to stress management methods. No other health maintenance system has devoted so much to breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation sequences.

Classes can be as safe as needed and designed for the needs of any student. Yoga can safely help wheel chair bound students, with a variety of neurological disorders, yet it can also be adjusted to challenge any elite or professional athlete. There is no shortage of areas where Yoga can help the world population, because it is an evolving system.

These days, you see Yoga on the ball, in a pool, on a beach, or at a pre-school. Does this take anything away from the traditional Yogic path? Absolutely not – the ancient Yogis left us a tree with branches. If a tree is healthy, it will grow many more new branches.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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