how to become a successful yoga teacherBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Downhill skiing can definitely be a challenging aerobic workout! The same is true for snowboarding, cross-country skiing and ice-skating. During the winter and early spring months, you may find that a number of your Yoga students are avidly participating in these sports. In order to help support your students enjoy and excel at these favorite winter activities, you may want to tailor your Yoga classes in such a way that the pace and poses that you choose are not only are physically strengthening, but also improve their cardiovascular fitness.

In order to improve cardiovascular fitness through Yoga, it is important for your students to work at a moderate aerobic level during your classes. The optimal aerobic range will vary from individual to individual depending on gender and age. Generally speaking, a moderate aerobic level of intensity is a heart rate of 120 to 150 beats per minute. Younger students and more fit Yoga students will be able to work at a higher level of intensity but still be able to stay in a moderately vigorous aerobic range. Working out at a comfortable aerobic level has been shown to be the most effective way to safely increase cardiovascular fitness and stamina.

Students who are just beginning an exercise regime or who are not in optimal physical condition will need to begin practicing Yoga at a slower pace with some modifications. The same is true of students who are contending with injuries, chronic illness or healing from surgery. As a Yoga instructor, it is important for you to be aware of the general fitness level of your students and any heart conditions, injuries, illnesses, or other limiting physical considerations.

After you have ascertained your students’ general fitness levels, you may decide to tailor some of your Yoga classes to improving their level of cardiovascular health. One of the most effective ways of improving heart health through Yoga is by linking the poses together through a series of flowing, breath-based vinyasa movements that utilize the poses of the Sun Salutation as a framework from which to move in and out of the asanas. If you teach in a heated Yoga studio, the heat will further increase the intensity level and cardiovascular challenge of your classes; just make sure that your students don’t overdo it!

By incorporating 3-5 push-ups during the transition through Chaturanga Dandasana and Upward Facing Dog, you will further increase their heart rates. By guiding your Yoga students through a flowing series of asanas at a moderately challenging pace, their heart rates will stay elevated at a comfortable aerobic level for the better part of an hour. Working at a moderately challenging aerobic pace for a period of forty-five minutes or longer, three or more times a week, will help to ensure that your students will improve their cardiovascular health and off the mat, will propel them down the slopes with ease and energy to spare.

© Copyright 2013 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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