By Faye Martins
Many yoga teaching certification courses show us how to teach classes, but they can’t give you the experience of addressing each student’s needs. Granted there are a few styles who believe the student must fit in or get out, but our students are all unique. One thing most of them have in common is the belief that yogic practices are all about the postures (asanas).
Asana is often referred to as “moving meditation,” but students often feel confused as how the practice blends the body and the mind. Whether a student comes to yoga for a holistic spiritual practice or a gym based exercise regimen, the physical aspects of a yoga practice can yield great benefits for the body.
Beginners often obsess over how to get into an asana, constantly worrying if they are “getting it right.” Others may feel embarrassed when they come to class with an extremely tight body. But by focusing on the deeper physical aspects of yoga, students can learn how to unite mental relaxation with reforming the body into more than just a stereotypical yogic pretzel.
Many students come to classes simply seeking a way to improve their flexibility. For these students, learning how to time their breaths with movement in an asana is key. In order to gain flexibility, a student should learn how to “breathe into” the part that is being stretched during the pose, and how to breathe out tension and toxins that can form knots or tension in an inflexible body.
For these students, a gentle vinyasa flow will allow them to combine slow motions with the relaxation of muscles and joints that will help improve their flexibility and give them an added bonus of building muscle strength.
Other students include yoga as part of their meditative or spiritual practice, seeing yoga training as the physical aspect of their meditation. These students will be responsive to the concept of body awareness that can confuse students who take yoga classes simply as a form of exercise.
An effective way to promote body awareness is to guide students to the direct link between their emotions and the state of their physical bodies. During meditation, a student may discover that they feel very angry with their coworker. When asked to discover where that anger and tension is reflected within the body, the student could discover that there is tightness in the chest, which is causing shallow breaths. Or another student may discover that her emotions are reflected in tight hips as she imagines herself sitting in her office chair while her coworker annoys her with their presence. As the student works to deepen her breathing or to stretch the hips, the emotions that she holds in her body are also relieved.
The physical rewards of yoga reflect what students feel within their minds, whether they come to the mat for a bit of exercise, or to continue their spiritual practice. No matter what yoga means to each student, any point of view can lead the physical aspects to help students find peace and growth through their practice.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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