/What Should a level 1 Yoga Teacher Know?
What Should a level 1 Yoga Teacher Know? 2017-04-26T15:29:50+00:00

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What Should a level 1 Yoga Teacher Know?
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July 17, 2011 - 11:23 pm
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What should you learn during your level 1 yoga teacher training course? You know that favorite yoga teacher who draws you back to class even when you are not feeling up to even one downward facing dog. He guides you in and out of poses, with a voice as measured and balanced as his own beautiful practice. Was she just born a guru? In fact the dedicated yoga teacher studies and practices continually, and then brings everything to the class.

Obviously a yoga teacher must know the poses. After all, more than half of the time spent in a typical yoga teacher training is focused on posture and pranayama techniques. These two subjects make up the bones of the yogic practice, especially in the West. Whether or not a teacher must memorize and use the Sanskrit names is contentious topic. But body mechanics of the poses are what is important, so much so that Iyengar yoga is completely base on proper alignment. The teachers' job is to guide and care for their students' bodies. This means knowing what a student or class is ready for, and then guiding them through the pose safely. This may sound like a simple explanation, or feel like a light, physical touch to help release the psoas or rotate the femur. To the student a tweak can be a little short of enlightenment within the constant work of practice.

Appropriate knowledge of anatomy and physiology is used to compose the sequencing of the practice, which leads students through beginning poses to open and heat the body and may moves into extensions and back bending and while keeping a pulse on the energy level of the practice.

Pranayama and yogic philosophy are also important. Without a grounding in the history of yoga, with its rich tradition and lineage, teachers may not understand the significance of certain elements of yoga, and fail to understand why and when to use them. For example, without incorporating Pranayama or yogic breath, many yoga teachers would argue that you are not doing yoga. And if your whole being is not united, or "yoked" in practice, you are just doing an exercise.

Yoga teachers also should pursue self-inquiry. Without knowing their own hard spots, they likely will not have the empathy to help their students. With a questioning spirit and self-care, it becomes harder for a teacher to tap into their naturally giving attitude during a difficult part of class.

A yoga teacher's knowledge and experience far exceeds that of the yoga student. But yoga teachers are perennial yoga students. Maybe that is the secret of the guru.

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October 6, 2014 - 11:48 pm
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Aside from knowledge of the craft, correcting alignment maintaining safety, he should also be passionate. Passion that is so contagious students will keep on coming cause they too can feel the warmth and life changing experience in every class 🙂

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October 7, 2014 - 10:12 am
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I absolutely agree with you Julie. A knowledgeable teacher is a technician and that's good, but compassion comes from the heart and it cannot be faked.

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March 18, 2015 - 9:24 pm
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Good post Dreamy! Yes, teachers should have a clear idea about contraindications and that should be covered within a 200-hour certification program.

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March 19, 2015 - 8:40 am
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Postures are Important, but Yoga Teachers Should Also Know About Meditation.

In the 21st century life is moving at a very fast pace everyone is rushing towards the non-existent finish line. The demands and necessities of the people leading a modern life have increased by leaps and bounds. Most of the people are either anxious or under grave tension, most of the time day seems so short that all the chores unreservedly impossible to complete in a date. This type of pressure and anxiety leads to bad health condition, under such circumstances yoga therapy with its beneficial techniques should be performed much often. Practicing physical postures, controlled breathing and meditation are referred as the best physical and mental activity for achieving peace of mind.

In yoga sutras of Patanjali meditational practice is said to be a great tool for increasing concentration and focus; it assists in seeking peace of mind and gives the serene sense of relaxation. Meditation should never be performed without proper guidelines. It is a responsibility of an instructor to guide the students about the initial steps that should be completed in order to meditate correctly and without any hassle. The first and foremost thing before starting meditational procedure is time, a student should always be instructed to select the most convenient time when there is no one around to disrupt the course of action or to divert the attention. The second most important step is to select calm, serene and a quiet place probably something close to nature.

Thirdly the instructor should make sure that the students are not sitting in any uncomfortable position because that will affect the posture and posture is really important when it comes to developing focus or concentration, the teacher should always keep one thing in mind that the students are both bodily and emotionally peaceful, calm and steady. Their positions are not leaning or supported by anything. The students should be advised to keep their eyes close throughout the process and acquire the lotus position which is commonly used during meditation. Lastly it is very important that before meditating or performing yoga, students should not eat something heavy that may cause them problem once the process starts. These were some preliminary steps that should be taken care before meditating for effective results.

Mediation is highly affective to obtain emotional calmness, stillness and also helpful in reducing stress levels. There are three main types of meditation which includes transcendental, Sahaja Yoga meditation and lastly mindfulness.
Transcendental: It is one of the most common forms of meditation that requires mantra to get rid of the disturbing thoughts. The students should be advised to practice it for 20 minutes two times a day preferably early morning and in the evening. The students should be instructed to remain passive and should not be sidetracked by the distracting thoughts whenever this happen, the mantra should be chanted over and again to bring back the focus.

Some forms of yoga also contain the traditional forms of meditation that should encouraged by the instructor to be practiced twice in a day. This type of meditation is associated with self-realization.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is commonly known as Vipassana mediation, it is performed with the help of several breathing exercises in order to maintain the mental calmness. This type of meditation is highly effective for the chronic pain.

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September 22, 2015 - 4:40 pm
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Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga teacher courses are filled with information about asanas. Meditation, philosophy, ethics, anatomy and yogic methods will be covered, but in physical styles the bulk of information covered will be posture alignment, assisting, and modification. 

What should yoga teachers know about asana? According to an article response published in The New York Times “yoga exercises do not exist as an empirical object and the asana only subsists when an individual attempts to connect in it”. To take on teaching yoga as a profession, demands a lot of hard work, dedication and competency regarding to every aspect of this physical activity. The core requirement for conducting a yoga session is to have complete awareness or experience of how students should move their body parts, balance, focus and control breath while practicing specific posture.

The responsibility of a teacher is to help students in achieving and maintaining accurate body alignment during practice also guide them when to hold or relax in a pose especially for challenging poses to attain maximum benefits. A skilled professional should always be equipped with knowledge about asanas progress and sequence. For safe and secure guidance of yoga techniques it is important to have understanding of three main facets body strength, flexibility and stability of an individual practitioner. This practical understanding will be attained by knowing human anatomy and acquiring knowledge of bodily postures deeply. When the trainer is aware of muscles and skeletal system of body he/she will give much more correct and clear instructions to students about relaxing and contracting body parts in each pose.

The complete understanding of performing asanas is helpful for teaching diverse levels of students in a class, for beginners, intermediate and advanced stages the practicing criteria is different. For initial stages the teacher shed light about which parts of body are weak, injured, stiff or need development in flexibility and strength. Similarly for practitioners having health issues, age factor or any disability need modified versions and physical adjustments while practicing traditional asanas. Sometimes props, adjustments or modification are helpful in making yoga poses easier. The teacher should devise sequences of asanas that build proficiency and acquaintance of one pose to another, allowing students to feel their own body, muscular actions, effects of proper body alignment and breath control. It will also help to train students to know how body muscles and joints interact in a complete sequence of asana.

To teach beginners the trainer should use deep seated knowledge about elementary poses with much more emphasis on performing standing asanas. Gradually other poses are added later that include forward and backward bends, twisting, inversions, balancing and restorative poses. For ending each session teacher should guide practitioners to perform deep relaxation pose Savasana or corpse pose in an insightful manner for releasing all tensions of body and mind, drawing mind towards peaceful and stillness mode. All in all when it comes down to training the instructors it all depends on their adaptability, sensitivity and how well they can perform the poses.

One more thing that should be a vital ingredient for teachers is that they should always be calm, composed and ready to humbly respond to the student queries. They should have a fair idea of how to help a struggling student and make them believe in their selves as yoga is all about exploring one’s self and negating the negativity that surrounds us.

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September 25, 2015 - 7:52 pm
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It's good that each of us brings up aspects of teacher training that we find important. Asanas take the lead because this is the most common aspect of today's classes. However, Patanjali would weep to know that eight limbs have been abandoned for a beautiful body. 

Therefore, let me remind all of you that there are eight limbs to be studied and the basics of the Yoga Sutra should be part of a foundational training.

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October 15, 2015 - 7:17 pm
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Some training programs include pranayama, but some teachers don't include much of it in their classes. What should a yoga teacher know about paranayama? Since yogic breath connects mind and body, it should be given more of a presence in modern classes. Paranayama is one of the most important limbs of Patanjali’s yoga sutra and considered as the fundamental aspect in all forms of yoga.

The breathing practice is all about releasing and channeling pranic energies store in human body. Deep inhalation and exhalation procedure helps to cleanse, nourish, nurture high level of physical health and mental clarity. Paranayama is derived from Sanskrit word Prana and Ayana in which prana means life force or vital energy that flow in body whereas ayana means expansion or extension. The expansion of vital energies by controlling and regulating of prana efficiently destroy all diseases and illnesses of body.

According to “Good Health and Vitality through Essential Breath Work”, the breathing book; the breathing process may affect human respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychic functions. Moreover it may also affect sleep, memory, levels of energy and mental focus. When an individual has irregular respiration his/her mind fluctuates and when breath is steady the mind becomes steady too. For attaining stability during yoga practice it is important to bring under control the breathing procedure. Regular practice of paranayama techniques has direct effect on nervous system along with influencing all body systems by providing sense of peace in mind. Latest scientific researches and clinical observations stated that excessive supply of oxygen aids in getting rid of all ailments from body as breath is the main contributor of life and also binds conscious in correct manner.

A competent teacher should be well equipped of comprehensive awareness and deep seated knowledge of paranayama techniques with applications of Bandhas, without it the practice can be injurious for student’s health. Teacher should educate students all four major aspects of correct breathing process that involve inhalation or Pooraka, exhalation or Rechaka, internal breath retention or Anthar Khumbaka and external breath retention or Bahir Khumbaka. There is another form of paranayama technique known as Kevala Khumbaka or spontaneous breath retention, an advance level exercise performed during higher stages of meditation. Simple breathing pattern like diaphragmatic respiration is helpful and good for students at initial levels as it increases their breath awareness, stability, steadiness and comfort level. Gradually transform beginner’s to advance level of breathing exercises by lengthening exhalation or holding up breath for extended time interval. Advice beginner’s not to practice advance paranayama techniques because they require much more still body and calm mind, do not allow them to overdo any breathing exercise which create discomfort.

It is essentially required for a teacher to be well aware of student’s health condition while performing paranayama techniques such as for asthma patient holding up of breath for long duration is not safe. The teacher may also remind practitioners to avoid exercises just after food intake, recommend them to wait till two-three hours or perform with empty stomach. It is the responsibility of a teacher to keep in notice that while performing specifically breathing techniques the room should be well ventilated so that fresh air may easily circulate in the area or it is better to choose an open air space.  

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April 15, 2016 - 2:29 pm
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Learning how to teach yoga to students: The physical activity of yoga is a slow paced workout with controlled breath. The regular practice of yoga helps naturally in reducing stress, offers mental relaxation and reconnecting with inner soul. Nowadays much more people are engaging their self in performing this physical workout and enjoying its numerous valuable benefits.

The ancient tradition of yoga becomes a well known professional career; many individuals are applying and taking certified teacher training courses for becoming yoga instructor. Selecting this profession as a permanent job requires a lot of hard work, expertise and dedication. Teaching yoga is a challenging and a responsible assignment in which trainer needs to learn every aspect of this system with great devotion, patience and hardcore practice.

It is necessary to complete standardized training programs along with required teaching hours and continuation courses time to time for becoming a registered teacher. These courses are helpful in gaining valuable skills like developing better verbal communication with students, acquiring comprehensive knowledge about textual study of yoga with human physiology and anatomy. Before beginning the teaching career the instructor should embody his/her self with complete understanding of yoga techniques. It is the top most priority of an instructor to develop his/her own regular practice to attain mastery in all poses, breath work and bodily movements. The trainers should work hard to have improved teaching style by taking different types of training sessions. After that they should opt to specialize in their own particular style or form.

Completion of proper teaching course will be helpful in gaining knowledge about physical anatomy with preventing injury or sprains in students while conducting a class. The course also educates about teaching with varied levels of practitioners and to develop your own unique style. For becoming an effective yoga instructor pick up best from quality teachers and also implement their way of teaching in your class. The best part of learning teaching skills is to enhance communicating abilities also aid an individual to deepen his/her own performance by studying theoretical literature of yoga methodology, asanas benefits and modifications in detail. Once the training period is complete you will become a part of yoga family. At present there are several unlimited options of taking teacher training programs may be through online, attending workshops or enrolling in a studio.

Throughout the training period an individual will learn about their body strength, flexibility and ability to attain mental focus helpful in making practitioner mentally and physically strong. The detail understanding of asanas provides awareness about proper body alignment and stability. The textual study of yoga Sutras of Patanjali especially meditation and paranayama approaches will play an important part in deepen spiritual practice, tools to apply in daily life and to connect to your inner self deeply. The training sessions specially educate you how to get control over mind and learn new horizon about your mind by giving variety of informative lectures and presentations. Moreover the learning will help in gaining competency, art of expressing inner thoughts and feelings effectively with having great confidence in your abilities.

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May 26, 2016 - 8:27 pm
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Hatha yoga is referred as the simplest and the most popularly practiced form of ancient yogic methodology, it includes Sivananda, Bikram, Iyengar and Kripalu styles of yoga. Hatha yoga practice is a phenomenal procedure of achieving balance between body and mind also attempts to free more restrained spiritual elements by performing physical postures, paranayama breathing and meditation.

The word Hatha is a Sanskrit word derived from two words “ha” which means sun and “tha” means moon, commonly translated as physical activity that brings union of opposite pair positive sun and negative moon. Sometimes it is also known as forceful or willful yoga because it requires a lot of bodily exertion.

This form of yoga helps practitioners to cope up with stress, to deal with depression and anxiety by relieving muscular tension. Hatha yoga practice offers a focused mental state to prepare for meditation and ultimately for attaining enlightenment. Regular practice of physical poses help in gaining flexibility, strength and body balance whereas relaxation poses are helpful in opening energy channels and allow positive energies to flow freely. Some particular body postures are helpful in treatment and prevention of diseases like diabetes, hypertension and arthritis also bring glandular function in balance by massaging and toning of internal vital organs.

A professional Hatha yoga teacher should have complete knowledge of therapeutic yoga system, detail awareness about yoga sutras and their application during practice session. The teacher must have full command on important issues related with this style of practice to guide students about how to find Ah Ha moment in their postures, how to go deeper in their practice during asana practice with controlled breath and relaxation techniques. Before conducting class, the teacher should well prepare with his/her individual practice and session plan; also have complete acquaintance of human physiology, anatomy and body mechanics to avoid injury or harm. The teacher should also familiar with when to offer physical assistance, adjustments and variation or modified versions of poses for people suffering from any disability and certain health issues.

The expert trainer should always know that which asanas are best to teach for driving energies in positive way as each practitioner has its own level of body flexibility, pace and mental consciousness. Every individual should advise to perform according to their own body limitations also guide students essential Hatha yoga asanas with their health related benefits. The expert professional always be acquainted with how and when to go deeper in the practice by using body postures and profound breathing. Prior to starting class, teacher may clearly instruct some necessary guidelines for students to follow about establishing right conditions to initiate and carry on practice session such as to perform yoga exercises with empty stomach is better, avoid drinking water in the course of practicing asanas, wearing of proper clothing, movement in correct sequence with accurate body placement and to avoid talking or speaking loudly while performing exercises because all the above mentioned points not only make disturbance in class but also cause interference in achieving focused concentration.

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May 26, 2016 - 8:29 pm
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What should yoga teachers know about Mantras? The ancient beliefs of yoga methodology referred recitation of mantras as sacred words or sound that should chant repeatedly in traditional Sanskrit language to attain deep consciousness. These sacred words or verse work like a medicinal tool for soul and transmit spiritual elements of yoga approach. The correct chanting will offer an insightful and mindful admittance of yoga therapy also.

Mantras are said to be a key instrument for self evolution as it is the habitual fluctuation of consciousness towards own self and help in shifting negative thoughts and behaviors in positive attitude. The mantras or sound may be practice loudly or heard internally by attaining deep meditative state. According to the earliest spiritual tradition universe came into existence by a loud sound or bang from God and chanting of these words guide us towards a way to focus on this vibration in ourselves. Generally building blocks of all mantras are fifty letters of Sanskrit alphabets and may consist of a single letter, syllable or sequence of rhyming words or a complete sentence.

Yoga technique of meditation is mostly practiced with chanting mantras that allows an individual to create strong connection with energy fields and to enhance levels of constructive energies within body. These sacred words lay great impact in developing strong synchronization among mind and body, eliminating unpleasant feeling with love and positivity. There are other innumerable physical, spiritual and mental advantages such as reduction in stress, negative thoughts and anger. Latest scientific research and investigations in the field of neuro-plasticity of brain show that neural corridors are either strengthened by repetition of mantras or weakened by lack of practice. Moreover spiritually the chanting of scared words or sound is helpful in purification and opening of inner soul or chakras.

Teaching of yoga techniques incorporate all physical, emotional and spiritual elements, in this day and age practice and teaching of mantras in a yoga session is becoming widely popular. Therefore teachers should encompass complete awareness and much more focused approach on this technique. The teacher must have his/her own personal practice and competency in this form to direct practitioners correctly because not any practice is completed without setting deep intention. Chanting is performed while meditational process as repetition of mantras itself is related to meditation. During taking the regular yoga session teacher should advise students to sit in a relaxed and comfortable posture with cross legs. At first the practitioner should try to spend few moments in following their breathing pattern and for settling down itinerant thoughts. Teaching correct pronunciation is also important to attain deep state of meditation.

Some of the favorite and commonly practiced mantras by expert yogis are mentioned as follows,

OM: This word is referred as basic, standard and powerful one, chanting of OM brings harmony or reverberation between universe and practitioner.

Maha Mantra: It is called as a great verse that helps to achieve deliverance and eternal peace of mind.

OM Namah Shivaya: This verse reminds practitioners of their own divinity, encourages self confidence and empathy.

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