By Sangeetha Saran
You may hear yoga teachers talk about “massaging the digestive organs” or “lengthening the hamstrings.” Do you know what this means? Unless you have a background in anatomy, you may not understand the anatomical references made during yoga classes. Anatomy is an important aspect of yoga. Prospective yoga teachers are required to take anatomy courses before they can become certified. A basic understanding of anatomy helps yoga teachers to work with students with injuries, and to prevent injuries while teaching yoga classes.
The practice of yoga is over 5,000 years old. Centuries of wisdom have been poured into the creation of asanas, or postures, we practice today. As a yoga teacher, how can you share the knowledge of anatomy without alienating your students?
First, understand that many people who take yoga classes do not want to learn what the psoas is. They come to class to make their muscles healthy and strong, not to learn anatomy. Your job as a yoga instructor is to master these terms, and use them to facilitate safe classes for your students.
If you would like to sprinkle your monologue with anatomical terms, consider showing while you are telling. If you refer to the psoas muscle, point to this muscle on your body. When appropriate, you can also use a student’s body as a model.
If you are focusing a class around a particular muscle or joint, begin the class with a short tutorial on where the muscle is and what it does. Show students where the muscle is on your body. You can also help students find this area on their own body. During the class, give students specific instructions on how to best utilize this muscle. For example, if you are talking about the hamstrings, make sure students know whether they should be contracting or lengthening.
Students may get overwhelmed if you use too many anatomical references, so keep it simple. Introduce only one muscle or joint per class. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the information you plan to introduce.
After the class is complete, you may want to follow up with a trusted student. This suggestion is up to your discretion and comfort. Is there a student that you feel comfortable asking to review the class? If so, ask him or her about the effectiveness of the information you presented.
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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