What Should a Yoga Teacher Know About Meditation?

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What Should a Yoga Teacher Know About Meditation?

yoga trainingBy Sanjeev Patel

Meditation is the process of calming and focusing the mind. It can effectively relieve anxiety, stress, or depression. Many people use it every day to calm and refresh the mind. There are many positions to take upon meditation, but we often think of the image of a person sitting with his or her legs crossed, hands resting on the knees, and eyes closed.

Modern Yoga and Meditation

Most basic Hatha yoga classes include some type of meditative aspect, but it usually is not the central focus of the class. New Yoga instructors don’t need to be experts on meditation, but they should know how to teach basic meditative practices and they should continue to study and practice in order to become the best possible guide.

In some Yoga training sessions, meditation is at the beginning and end of the session. In a typical Hatha Yoga class, meditation takes place at the end of the session. The instructor normally cools the students down with some floor poses, and then eases them into a meditative pose, such as corpse pose. As the students lie there feeling any new sensations in their bodies, the instructor leads them in a short meditation session.

Stage-by-stage Relaxation

Although, relaxation is not meditation, it is a valuable building block toward meditating and focusing. A relaxed mind is more willing to meditate than an over-stimulated mind. As a Yoga teacher, you want to direct your class by giving cues to relax each body part, from the toes to the tip of the head. The students are usually asked to breath deeply and focus their thoughts on their breath, while letting other thoughts flow through the mind without dwelling upon them. After about 10 minutes, the instructor gently eases students back into the world by asking them to wiggle their hands and feet, arms and legs, and then come to a sitting position.

Mudras

Yoga teachers, at the 200 hour level, should know a few basic hand gestures, or mudras. Mudras help focus energy to specific parts of the body, and can aid in healing. To perform the Guyan mudra, place the tips of the thumb and forefinger together, while leaving the other three fingers straight. Guyan mudra can relieve stress, insomnia, anger, laziness, and indecisiveness.

Another common mudra is Varun. Perform Varun by resting the thumb on top of the smallest finger, while the other three fingers remain idle. It can help cure skin problems, dehydration, blood disorders, wrinkles, and excessive body heat.

Hold the tips of the thumb and middle finger together to perform Aakash mudra. Aakash should not be performed while walking. It will help improve bone strength and result in improvements in overall body weakness.

Asanas

Basic meditation postures include easy pose, corpse pose, or half lotus. Most importantly, yoga instructors should teach students to sit in a posture that is comfortable for them. If an asana is not comfortable, the student will focus on his or her discomfort instead of meditating.  With that said, some your Yoga students may need to sit in a chair or on a cushion.

Breath Awareness Meditation

The basics of meditation begin by focusing within.  To ask our students to observe the breath seems easy for us, but try to remember how hard it was to suppress that little monkey that runs rampant within the mind.  Paulji may find monkeys comical, but I know, first hand, they are trouble.  Breath awareness may keep the monkey quiet for a while.

Mindfulness Meditation

This could be mindfulness of breath, an object, or a function like walking.  Mindfulness is similar to breath awareness because your students learn to observe and appreciate.  This is much different than controlling and judging.  Teaching yoga students to let go and relax through mindfulness is a challenge, but it has many rewards.

Many More Techniques

Mantra, Tratak, and Yantra meditation are worth the effort.  For Yoga teacher training interns, these techniques can be challenging.  One point to remember: Practice, study, and practice again.  When we become a certified yoga instructor, this is the first step of a life-long journey.  Every yoga instructor invests time in intensive studies and all aspects of the yogic way of life.

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One Comment

  1. Marry Wilson March 22, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Meditation is the process of calming and focusing the mind. It can effectively relieve anxiety, stress, or depression. Many people use it every day to calm and refresh the mind.

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