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How to Teach Yoga Techniques
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August 1, 2015 - 6:22 pm
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How to Teach Bhastrika Pranayama

Bhastrika Pranayama, or bellows breath, refers to the movement of the belly as well as the sound made with this breath exercise.  This maximum breath is a powerful pranayama technique, in which you inhale and exhale quickly for a number of inhales and exhales.

A regular pranayama practice is beneficial not only for yoga and meditation, physical health and mental clarity.  Each breath series is designed to connect with different needs of the body, different chakras, multiple moods, and states of mind.  Choose the one most appropriate breath technique for your needs and abilities, and the results will be felt immediately.

This particular pranayama practice pumps up the immune system by expelling toxins, intensifies the supply of oxygen flow through the body, increases body temperature to boost immunity, clears the mind of toxic thoughts, aids digestion and metabolism, cleans the respiratory system, and enhances energy.

Bhastrika breath also connects with the Manipura Chakra, which is the third energy center located in the solar plexus.  Most of the movement comes from the abdomen, which is both seen and felt with the fast moving nature of this breath workout.

Practice this particular breathing in the morning or in the early afternoon for a boost of energy; however, try to avoid this particular breathing exercise before bedtime. This is not the ideal introductory pranayama exercise, so be sure to try beginner breathing exercises before attempting if you are new to breath practice.  This ensures safety during this fast moving breath series.

Find a comfortable seated position, with crossed legs or hips on top of heels.  Sit with a tall spine, and both sits bones pressed into the ground evenly. Focus your attention on your breath, and take a few deep inhales and exhales.

Pull your shoulder blades back and together to touch, melt shoulders away from your ears, feel a slight lift in your chest and the crown of your head stretch up towards the ceiling. Reach your arms out long with your hands resting on top of your knees.  In a beginning practice, it’s a nice option to place your hands on your belly, in order to focus your attention there and feel the belly contract with exhalation and expand with inhalation.

Inhale quickly through both nostrils.  Focus your attention on your abdomen to lift and expand the area, rather than your lungs.  Any movement will occur in the belly rather than the chest.

Exhale forcefully, and insure you make a blowing sound as your air flies out.  Again, your belly lowers instead of your chest. The head, neck, shoulders, and chest remain still. With these fast, one second breaths, your belly begins to bellow.

Repeat this process five to ten times at the rate and tempo you desire.  Rest for ten seconds, and then begin the next round of 15 breaths.  After a rest of 30 seconds, take the final round with 30 breaths the same way as described above.

Another option is to do one to three rounds of 11-17 breaths that are one second each.  

Your breathing endurance or health will also determine the frequency and form your breaths will take.  Relax into the tempo and allow your breath to move you.

An advanced option is to place the right thumb over the right nostril, to leave the left one open.  The fast breath travels in and out in this area, only to alternate nostrils covered every new series of breaths (beginning with the first round of  five to ten breaths).

The recommended practice for Bhastrika pranayama a few minutes daily.  If you ever feel lightheaded during the exercise, be sure to take a small break.  If you do continue, be sure to do so cautiously, with fewer rounds or slower breath.

Keep in mind if you have certain health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, panic disorders, or are pregnant, you should not practice this particular breath sequence.

A pranayama practice is important not only for meditation or yoga, but for life off of the mat as well.  All breathing techniques have a powerful way to connect mind and body together into a calm, natural state.  Enjoy Bhastrika Paranayama in your expanding tool kit of life force breath energy exercises.   

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August 11, 2015 - 10:17 pm
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Advice for Teaching Your First Yoga Class

You have been practicing yoga for years. You are almost fluent in Sanskrit, you have a yoga mat for each day of the week and you’ve wanted to be a yoga teacher since you were five. Soon, you’ll be stepping to the front of a class for the first time. Take a deep breath, let it out and relax. You’re going to be amazing.

Practice Your Flow

To calm your nerves, try out your class plan beforehand. Run through each pose, think about the modifications you can offer and enjoy how smoothly each asana flows into the next. Teach your class to yourself several times before teaching it to others. This way, you will be calm and confident in front of your students. Subconsciously, you already know how to teach an amazing session. You only need to master your anxiety.

Diversify Your Moves

By now, you have a favorite set of moves. Perhaps you always repeat your warrior sequences or spend three minutes in king pigeon. For your first class, move away from this habit. You want to appeal to a broad audience, so stick to popular asana like sutkatasana and baddha konasana. Avoid the temptation to stay in your favorite poses because they will not be as appreciated by your class. Remember that you are serving as a teacher and have an obligation to share the beauty of yoga. You want each of your students to enjoy your class and return.

Relax!

You cannot channel the restorative energy of yoga if you are stressed or worried. Control your emotions before your first session; you owe it to yourself and your students. Visualize your class going well. Meditate before starting. Think about your own journey to become a yoga teacher. You have the passion and knowledge to succeed. Hold on to those positive thoughts so you can allow uplifting energy to flow through you and into your students.

Your first yoga class will be an amazing experience. Your knowledge of yoga is unique and well-suited to teaching others; if you were not ready to lead others, you would not have been led down the path of teaching. Remember the hundreds of hours you have poured into improving your practice. You will be a wonderful teacher and you will bring passion and love of yoga to each of your students.

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