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Yoga Teacher in Training Questions and Answers
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Forum Posts: 138
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April 27, 2015
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March 2, 2010 - 9:07 am
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Many interns have questions, due to conflicting information in books. This may be a result of an author's attempt to present a point, but running out of space to present the counter-point. Below are questions you may have considered, but hesitate to ask.

Please feel free to add your opinions, experiences, or to disagree. Our collective efforts, of learning more about Yoga, help keep all of us informed.

OM Shanti,


1. Should you do yoga if you are sick?

Usually, the answer is "no;" however, I have practiced on my back while I was very ill. On the other hand, I would never want students in class who were ill from the flu, or something contagious.

2. Can you do yoga while you are sick?

Yes, but usually, the routines are ground-based, meaning the postures are seated or lying down.

3. Should yoga be done with your eyes open or closed or both?

Most of the time, your eyes should be open, but there are some exceptions. Some practitioners may perform meditation and/or asanas, at the same time, with the eyes closed. It is dangerous for a teacher to ask students to perform some techniques with their eyes closed. For example - balancing poses, some standing poses, and flowing sequences present dangers if the eyes are closed.

4. During poses should one keep ones back straight when doing all poses, some or none?

Usually, the spine should be kept straight. However, there are some exceptions, such as cat/cow.

5. Though not a yoga tool, could meditation beads be used to maintain focus? How about in a class?

Yes. They could be used in a class, as well. However, you may offend some students with different religious beliefs.

6. Should a class run exactly an hour? Does it make a difference if the time is off by a couple of minutes? (If it should be, how do you not watch the clock?)

The one hour time frame, for the practical exam, is based upon what fitness centers, YMCA's, and corporate fitness centers, will usually allow for a time frame. However, when you are making your practical exam video, I am not concerned with a few minutes. The best thing to do, if you find yourself in a fitness center atmosphere, is to design a routine. And practice it often, to make sure that fits into a one-hour time frame.

7. Can mudras be brought in at any time or are they only to be used during seated meditation?

Mudras can be used at any time. Very often, they are combined with pranayama techniques. If you think about it, mudras are usually used in seated positions, but they can sometimes be practiced in standing or supine positions.

8. How long should a pose (asana) be held and should you count breaths?

This really all depends on the teacher or the style. For example - Vinyasa classes often hold poses for an inhale and then, transition into the next pose for an exhale. Iyengar classes may hold postures 1-3 minutes, or longer. If you are looking at flexibility, there is a 20 second window of time for maximum flexibility to be achieved, while holding a posture. Any posture held longer than 20 seconds develops strength after the initial 20 seconds have passed. Because everyone breathes differently, the number of breaths a person holds a posture for will always consume a different time frame.

9. When breathing should you always breathe through your nose, mouth or both?

It depends on the technique. There are many variations of pranayama techniques. Some are through the nose - some are through the mouth - some are combinations.

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