500 hour hatha yoga teacher certification programBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500 

Have you ever wondered about the causes of cramps or why there are differences in the colors of the same chakras? Below is a question and answer session from a lecture for Yoga teachers at Aura Wellness Center.

Q: If a student (normally very fit) gets a cramp during the class, what can I do as a Yoga teacher, in terms of safety and health?

A: With cramps, the muscles involved are like a pulley system. For example: If someone is getting cramps in the calf, the toes should be spread apart and point upward, but not straight forward, which would intensify the muscle cramp.

This movement lengthens the calf muscle and relieves the cramp. This principle works with most other muscle groups. The problem of cramping can get worse if a student decides to push through a cramp. Also, massage can be of good benefit.

 Q: What poses would you suggest for a student, who has weak ankles and sore feet, to promote a better and easier feeling?

A: About weak ankles – this depends on the student, but it is usually a skeletal problem. There is limited muscle tissue around the ankles. However, if you want to help a student develop stronger ankles, then a balancing program, with balancing postures, such as Tree and Eagle, would work.

 Concerning sore feet – the best thing to do is massage them. You can do this by using the thumbs, with massage oil, and massage the bottom of the feet from the heels toward the balls of the feet. Make sure you massage all the way to the toes.

 Q: In one of my Yoga books, the color of the chakras are completely different than in the other books I came across so far. For instance: The root chakra is stated as yellow where all the other books I have are describing it with red color.

A: We will never have standardized colors for chakras. People have a difficult enough time agreeing on matters that they can clearly see; let alone something they cannot see. In the case of Chakras, most of us have never visibly seen them. Thus, a disagreement will continue until there is a way to physically view them.

Q: Now going back to the cramps how can my student release a cramp from a front part of the thigh? Does it have to do also something with inappropriate breathing? Would deeper breathing prevent a student from getting cramps?

A: To release a cramp from the front part of the thigh, you need to draw the heel back toward the sit bone. This movement and posture instantly stretches out the thigh.

Postures such as: Lord of the Dance pose (Natarajasana), Bow pose (Dhanurasana), and Half Bow pose (Ardha Dhanurasana), will help. These are not the only asanas to choose from; any posture that draws the heel back toward the sit bone will be beneficial.

Massage can also help, but the pain is usually deep into the muscle, so it would have to be a deep tissue massage, which can also be very painful. Therefore, asana is the fastest and most effective solution.

About breathing: Improper breathing could cause cramps around the vital organs. Pranayama is most effective for deep cramps located around the vital organs (heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, digestive system, and so on). However, to use pranayama for cramps, in the legs or arms, will not usually give you quick results.

© Copyright 2009 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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