By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

If you are going to teach Hatha Yoga classes, there are many subjects to cover, but asana (posture) is often the starting point of most Yoga teacher training courses. It could be debated that we should follow the Eight Limbed Path, as explained by Maharishi Patanjali, by reviewing the first two limbs (Yama and Niyama) before asana.

However, let’s put this debate aside and discuss the details of teaching asana to the public. In the average 200-hour Hatha Yoga instructor training program, more than half of the course time is spent covering the intricacies of asana and pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques).

When a student is young, asana can change the body’s physical appearance within a year or two. Sometimes, results are seen at a faster rate. The body can develop strength and flexibility within months, but depending upon age and health, physical appearance can take a while longer.

On top of this, there is no fear of creating a huge muscular body by practicing asana. This is one of the reasons why Yoga has become so popular among women. In general, most women do not want a huge muscular body, but they do desire a physically toned appearance.

Beneath the superficial physical appearance of a toned body, the energy channels open, the nervous system’s functions are improved, and a natural detoxification process begins to take place. The reason so much attention goes into asana is because the positive results have made it very popular for students of every age.

Specific asana sequences can be recommended for particular ailments. If you have an ailment, illness, pain, or a pre-existing injury, and gradually receive positive results through asana practice, this physical aspect of Yoga can change your life without any side effects. To suddenly be pain free, after years of chronic pain, is a life changing event.

A competent teacher guides his or her students to avoid pain, common mistakes, and to master the best possible alignment. Each student’s skeletal body is different. As a result, students should be encouraged to do their personal best, but to avoid making comparisons to others or engaging in self-criticism.

Demonstrating, cueing, and assisting are some of the tools a Yoga teacher uses to help students focus on inner awareness, pranayama technique during asana practice, and alignment. These teaching skills are developed within the certification process, but they continue to be improved as a Yoga teacher matures.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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