By Sangeetha Saran
If you have taken a Yoga teacher training intensive, you might have forgotten what it was like in the beginning of your journey. Maybe you teach gentle restorative classes for therapeutic purposes or maybe you teach hot vinyasa classes to students dripping in sweat. Either way, Yoga instructors need to look into the mindset of a typical beginner, who might have been physically inactive for years, might want to shed some weight and might not be an olympic athlete. Let’s look deep inside the beginner’s mind.
Inside the Mind of a New Student
If you think the practice of Yogic posturing (asana) is all about flexible, thin bodies, you might feel intimidated by the thought of giving it a try. Well, think again. These days, classes can be found everywhere from senior centers to preschools, and medical doctors are recommending it to their patients as a complementary means of reducing stress and promoting healthy lifestyles. That doesn’t mean that one’s asana practice can’t be strenuous and advanced, but it does mean there’s a place for everybody, regardless of age or physical condition.
While most people associate it with the practice of poses, The Yoga Sutras have Eight Limbs that embrace everything from spirituality and clean living to exercise and meditation. Even the practice of asanas, or poses, varies from gentle and easy to vigorous and complex. Within any given category, there is still room for a wide range of levels and styles. There are many “easy” Yogic practices, and not all of them are the same.
Three Easy Steps to a Yoga Practice
• Breathing is a function of our autonomic nervous system, but that doesn’t mean we should take it for granted. The art of pranayama teaches Yoga practitioners to become more aware of the breathing process and to increase the vital energy, also known as prana, coming into the body. Alternate nostril breathing is one of the most common and popular techniques.
• Relaxation of the mind and the body is a big part of any Yoga training session. Poses relax muscles, remove toxins and prepare the body for meditation. Restorative postures provide gentle stretches that prepare beginners for more advanced exercises, but they can also be adapted to suit students with physical limitations and challenges. Among these are Child’s Pose, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose and simple, supported inversions.
• Yoga sessions often end with meditation, sometimes in seated asanas, but frequently in Corpse Pose. More difficult than it looks, the goal of this posture is total relaxation. While meditation and poses can be practiced separately, they also complement each other. Meditation increases awareness of the body and seeks to join the mind, body and spirit.
Easy practices often involve beginners or people with specific needs, consulting an experienced instructor before starting is a necessity. For people who are unable to attend regular classes, learning the correct procedure in the beginning will eliminate injuries and guarantee maximum benefits. Please consult your medical doctor before beginning the physical practice (asana and pranayama) of Yoga.
Side Notes for Teachers
If you teach Yoga to new students in a gentle and compassionate atmosphere, you are doing fine by keeping them safe. If you are a fire-breathing boot camp minded Yoga instructor: Instead of wishing you were a drill sergeant in your real life, just recommend the students who don’t meet your physical demands to a compassionate teacher. If you are an instructor who can teach everyone: There aren’t many teachers who can teach both extremes, but they exist and I salute you!
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training and continuing education courses for specialized Yoga certification, please visit the following link.
Free report, newsletter, videos, podcasts, and e-Book: “Yoga in Practice.”
If you are a Yoga Teacher, studio owner, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!