teaching yoga studentsBy Sangeetha Saran

Yoga can be a very emotional and mentally stimulating practice. However, no one can deny that it has a strong physical component as well. Yoga uses every muscle of the body and requires the practitioner to stay focused and engaged physically throughout the class. This is why many teachers focus on addressing physical awareness in their sessions. Physical awareness is not only an important aspect of yoga, but it is also a great way to improve your students’ lives outside of the studio. Increasing the physical awareness of your students can help them improve their yoga practice, increase their pain tolerance, and have a better overall quality of life.

Celebrating the Body

Many people come to yoga with body ideals and expectations. They may be unhappy with their current body, whether it is due to lack of strength, aging, wanting to lose weight, or feeling self-conscious about stretch marks, scars, or other “imperfections”. Yoga class is a wonderful time to celebrate the body, no matter what it looks like or how flexible it is. As a teacher, you can help your students to go beyond the outward physical appearance to find the beauty in their own physical strength and uniqueness. Promoting physical awareness can help students find the worth in their body when it comes to being strong, being flexible, and being healthy, instead of focusing primarily on appearance and beauty ideals. Teaching physical awareness will help your students learn how to love their body, which can have a huge effect on their lives inside and outside of the studio.

Recognizing Pain and Limits

Many people in our busy society push through pain and keep going even through severe fatigue and burnout. The physical signals sent out by the body are ignored. This can lead to illness and injury. Bringing physical awareness to your class can help students learn how to recognize when their body is telling them to take a break. Physical awareness can also help them to recognize the limitations of their physical body, whether it is in a yoga pose or just out in the world. In a time when too many people are out of touch with their bodies, as a yoga instructor, you can help your students find balance between the physical and the mental aspects of their health. A better awareness of the physical body can improve strength, sleep, flexibility, and overall health of your students.

Embracing the Moment

As another side effect of busy, overbooked schedules, people can focus too much on the past and future, and not enough on the present. Your students may arrive to class distracted, anxious, and wound up. Teaching physical awareness can help students to fully enjoy and appreciate the moment and focus on themselves during your class. Your class should be a time where cell phones are put away, work is left at the door, and students are meant to focus solely on themselves and their practice. Teaching this physical awareness will carry over from your class and into the daily lives of your students, enabling them to peace and serenity off the mat.

It is too easy to focus on the mental and emotional aspects of yoga while forgetting about the physical side. However, as a yoga teacher, you should always remember to teach physical awareness in your classes as well. The physical aspect of yoga is just one part of the practice that makes it a balanced choice for both body and mind. Teaching physical awareness to your students will help them to have better balance in the studio, at work, and in every aspect of their lives.

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