Teaching Yoga in Beirut

By Claude A

This is a tough winter 2006. Every single month, we’re depressed by a car blast exploding in some corner of the eastern Christian part of Beirut, either targeting a political figure or the various economic districts. We’ll have to mourn, bury the deaths, count the material enormous damages, thank God that we’re not between the victims, and go back to work. It’s hard to keep the good insights working in these conditions, unless you train yourself on a regular basis to bring up your inner strength to fight those unbearable forces of death and destructions.

Whatever the conditions are, and unless they have some over time at work, my friends used to show up in this small dance room we rent for Hatha Yoga. Maya became overweighed after thyroidal problems and the urgency of quitting smoking. She joined the group very desperate and skeptical to regain her beautiful body again.

She said she tried every single diet and eats as little as needed to survive but nothing changed. It took Maya 2 months of Hatha Yoga, with a 90 minute session a week, and some rehearsal at home to feel her body changing.

She regained her appetite but started losing weight and feeling wonderful. I really don’t know if It was something in her nervous system that was freed from tense to bring her metabolism to work normally again or the meditation on every vertebra of her body helped her discover the illness and cure it. I was very happy to see my friend smiling again and socializing with people while she used to hide ashamed of her body…

One day, my friend Sara called me to tell me that she’s bringing with her 2 congressional nuns who wanted to join the group. I was totally stunned to hear that.

Firstly, we live in a very patriarchal religious sectarian political system and had the conviction that catholic religious people in this country will have some reluctance practising yoga, associating it to Hinduism or Taoism.

Secondly, I usually give lessons to close friends and not to strangers. Sara told me, they have been practising my cycle for a couple of months now and all their physical system were changing. She was the one teaching them every single asana she was learning with me. That was very funny for me to hear that. She added that sister Jane had asthma and diabetic disease and feels pretty sure that, after the Yoga session, she doesn’t need insulin anymore.

Sister Mary had a problem of poor knees and could not sustain the kneeling position without hard pain, which deconcentrates her from praying. She was much improving and becoming more flexible. I agreed for them to come on the conditions they’ll have to sign a discharge from any injury during the session and specially that I won’t have to change the names of each part of the body while practicing; and I could always say: tuck in your pubis and lift up your coccyx!I

It was really nice doing yoga with the nuns. They are simply women like us with the same physical strength and weakness. They used to bring with them positive energy that enhanced our AUM breathing with joy and serenity.

Claude A

Teaching Hatha Yoga: Cueing Insights

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Have you ever heard a Yoga teacher cue without thinking? Did you ever wonder if cueing was actually covered in his or her Yoga teacher training? Let’s take a look at some common mistakes Yoga teachers make when cueing.

Most Yoga students retain information by actually performing a technique. Some studies estimate that 90% of all people learn by “doing.” In comparison, only a small percentage (10 to 20%) of your Yoga students will retain what you demonstrate or what they hear.

Below are some examples of what never to do when cueing your Yoga students.

The Introverted Yoga Instructor

Over the past few decades, I have found introverted Yoga teachers to be some of the kindest, warmest, and gentlest souls on this planet. If you fall into this category, speaking up is the biggest obstacle you have in front of you.

For the sake of your own Yoga students, please set an audio recorder at the far corner of the room you teach in. When you have time, listen to it. If you cannot hear anything, neither can your students.

You can do this as an exercise or find a “coach,” who will empower you to speak up. An honest friend, Master Yoga teacher, or a Professional Speaking Coach, could easily improve your life immensely. This might not seem to be a major problem to the “outspoken” Yoga teachers, but it is very hard for some of us to “speak up.”

The “Hey You” Yoga Instructor

Speaking of outspoken Yoga teachers; have you ever heard a Yoga teacher call out a student’s name to make a correction? It sounds something like this, “Hey Dave, turn your back foot in 45 degrees!” Some students come to Yoga teachers for stress management or self-esteem. Do we know every one of them?

First demonstrate the Asana, then cue, and mildly repeat if “Dave” does not catch on. If he still does not get it, walk over and give him an assist – if it is permitted. You could also give assists to other students, or at least observe your other students, on your way, to or from, Dave. Never intentionally draw attention to the student who has difficulty. We teach Yoga, and we must show compassion for our students, at all times.

The “You can’t do anything right in my Yoga class” Instructor

Remember Ahimsa (non-injury) and always to cue with a constructive purpose. If the purpose of a cue is to bolster your own ego – it is wrong, and it will be felt by all of your students. Yoga teacher ethics teach us to cue and assist without harming.

Yoga students enter a Yoga class to improve their lives and this is what teaching Yoga is all about. The Yoga class is tailored for the Yoga student. The Yoga teacher’s purpose is to gently guide students down the best path without ego.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Popular Yoga Postures and Positions

By Shumam Fasi

The Cobra

It should be done in simple steps. You should lie down with the forehead on the floor – legs and stretched back tightly together. Just beneath your shoulders, put your hands and palm down. Pressing your neck backwards, breathe in and raise your head, thereafter, bend like an impressive arc from the lower spine to the back of your neck by moving your trunk upwards with the aid of your hand. There is no requirement to go any further. At any rate, you can at present, totally straighten your arms, bend the legs at the knees and drop back your head to touch your feet provided; you are flexible enough. Drop your head to its limit , holding on to the posture with deep breathing, though your head does not go anywhere near your feet. Return to the posture with your face down as you come out of this very unhurriedly. With your head on one side, relax and repeat, thereafter.

The Bow

The simple bow is its more simplified version. Children can instantly do this which is quite astonishing. This should be taken in simple steps all over again. Lie on your mat with your face down. Get hold of a nice thick padded mat if you are very thin. By inhaling, bend your knees upwards. Keeping your fingers and thumbs on the outside together, extend backwards with your arms and get hold of your ankles. By inhaling simultaneously, raise your head and chest, lifting your knees and thighs off the floor and pulling at your ankles. Try to kick your legs higher and lift your head up by breathing normally. Leveling the weight of your body on the abdomen, you are now bent like a bow. If, however, you can extend further, then slide your hands down your legs, lift them higher, and keeping the knees together pull back, as much as you can or else you can stop right here. For a few normal deep breaths, hold yourself then with the head to one side – relax back to face down position.

The Shooting Bow

Here one leg is drawn up like a shooting bow; and in Sanskrit, this is called Akarna Dhanurasana. With both legs stretched out, in front and back, sit straight. Catch the right foot with the right hand and the left foot with the right one by reaching forward and clasping your feet. Twist your body to the right by breathing in and by pulling the foot across the body, near your chest with the elbow pointed upwards. Holding the right foot – the left hand stays firm and tight. Relax after holding posture with normal breathing and slow releasing. On the other side, repeat, thereafter. Holding the bent left leg with the right hand is enough in the beginning. Stretch down and hold the left foot with the right hand, when this is easy. The pulling of the left leg should be continued, and each exhalation lifts it higher.

Shumam Fasi is involved with an online yoga project that informs and educates the yoga enthusiast through well-written articles. Discover the timeless wisdom of Yoga meditation, breathing, & positions, as well as reviews on Yoga videos, mats, accessories, & much more…