Teaching Hatha Yoga – Explaining the Law of Karma to Yoga Students

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Recently, a Yoga teacher intern asked if it would be better to avoid action, so that no bad reaction would occur as a result of the initial action. In Yoga classes, many of us have learned that Karma means “action.” Sometimes, the simple American explanation of the Law of Karma is, “What goes around, comes around.”

To say it in another way: The results of our actions will produce effects, which will be good or bad. Most people do not stop to think: Inaction will also produce effects, which will be good or bad. If we “sit still” all of our lives, we will still create a good or bad situation.

With that said, why should we ever give up? In this life, successful outcomes usually require action. If we sit on our hands as a lifestyle, we should not be surprised if all of our wishes do not come to pass.

The Yogic formula for actions, you take, is quite simple. Every thought, in your mind, becomes an image. You describe the images you visualize in words. At this point, it is helpful to write them down the old fashioned way or on a computer. Ponder a few of the words until they become a mantra.

When you ponder the words, which you have written, or think, long enough, you will begin to take action. When you repeatedly take the same actions, toward the same objective, you will create a new habit. Habits change your personality, your daily routine, and your life.

Your personality will determine the outcome of your destiny. This entire process requires action. Constant inaction can change your personality, but who wants to make laziness a major part of their character? Who wants to establish a reputation as a lazy person?

Granted, there are times, in life, when we must be silent and stop taking action. When our children learn to take responsibility, we must let them. We cannot “tie their shoes” for their entire lives. The principle is the same in any organization.

In companies, we learn about delegating authority. This may seem harsh, if you are sweeping the floor, but the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) does not have the spare time to sweep the floor, and it is doubtful that he or she monitors the person who does sweep the floor. In fact, the person who sweeps the floor has usually taken action without much coaxing.

The main reason for inaction is fear of making a mistake. Yet, mistakes will enhance our learning process, and make us stronger for the experience. Whether you teach Yoga, or are a Yoga student, each day of your life, decisions have to be made by you. Use your best judgment, get advice from people of good character, make morally sound decisions, and take action.

You do not have to live a stressful lifestyle over decision making. Learn from each situation and move forward. This is just one aspect of the Law of Karma.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Yoga Teacher Chronicles – Yogic Diffusing Methods for a Conflict

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How can Yoga help us maintain our composure during a potential argument? The following Yogic methods are designed to help anyone keep their cool in the worst of times. We know that losing our temper in business, family, or public matters, tend to hurt relationships and prevent successful outcomes. So, let’s look at some solutions to diffuse conflicts.

Learn to recognize the “triggers,” which make you feel defensive or angry. This can be performed through careful observation of yourself and others. Carefully practice mindfulness each day, and observe yourself without criticism. In life, we tend to be our own worst critics. Self-observation has nothing to do with self-criticism.

Self-observation is an honest view of your daily life, as it is. Once you see the truth and document it, then you can take action to alter it. Although you have been taught the principles of Santosha (contentment), and you should be happy for what you have, you have the ability to make changes.

There is also a Sanskrit word: “Sankalpa,” which means resolution. This is not the common shallow promise, which is made on January 1st, and disappears by Valentine’s Day. This is a vow to perform a particular practice for a specific length of time. The act of observing, documenting, and taking corrective action, to diffuse conflicts, is a noble path, and full of gratification.

Through this method, some people completely learn to shut anger out of communication. For example: If a person is having a bad day, and makes an accusation toward you, he or she is often caught off guard, when you try to understand their point.

This mindset is easy to maintain if you work to constructively resolve conflicts instead of focusing on “winning” an argument. When one is the victor and the other is the victim, the relationship has suffered. The ability to listen and resolve conflict peacefully is an art.

Empathic listening skills are rare, but the best diplomats have practiced and learned them well. If you are rational, and stick to the point of the conflict, by asking sincere, concerned questions about why someone is upset, you will sometimes resolve the conflict before it can escalate.

When you stop, and repeat what someone says, you demonstrate concern about the issues. At the same time, you show respect because you are pondering his or her point. This also prevents side issues, by maintaining focus on the main point of contention.

Lastly, if something makes you upset, and you need to “cool down,” you should not be negotiating. It is human nature to have mind clutter. We practice, or teach Yoga, to organize the mind. Most of us cannot maintain a focused mind all the time.

With that said, there is a proper time and place for negotiations. Choose your “ground,” make composure your ally, show poise, and then resolve conflicts peacefully.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Teaching Hatha Yoga – Global Benefits for Public Health

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

At a time when lack of good health habits seems to be a common practice, Yoga has answers and many rewards. Yogic philosophy is concerned with preventative health on every level of existence. There are many temptations, which can cause people to form bad health habits. Fast food, huge out-to-eat portions, television, video games, personal computers, and a perceived lack of time to take care of ourselves, have combined to create global obesity.

At a time when people have so much technology and wealth, it is hard to understand why people are also living in poverty and suffering from starvation. You might think that humans would have found better solutions to distribute food equally to those who are in need. Granted, the efforts to feed those in need are better than ever, but we have not developed a perfect system.

Some will say, “What wealth?” and “I am not rich.” Consider the past: Our ancestors worried about their next meal, shelter over their heads, and disease, much more than the average person does today. If you are reading this on a computer, chances are the standard of living in your family line has improved over the past 100 years.

Yogic principles have helped humanity for 5,000 years. The art of living in moderation (Aparigraha), and selfless service (Karma Yoga), are good for our neighbors and also good for us. Over consumption is a form of gluttony, which hurts two parties. The person who is starving could use the food, while the person who is consuming, for the sake of consuming, is injuring his or her health.

The case could easily be made that gluttony damages physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. When we over consume, we throw our health out of balance. We are doing the same thing to our entire planet. We still burn fossil fuels, because those industries do not wish to change. The polar ice is melting at a rapid pace, so we are in denial and cut down trees at a faster pace.

When we cut down trees, we are cutting away the “lungs of our planet.” Through photosynthesis, one mature tree can produce enough oxygen for a family of four, for about one year. Needless to say, if you have property, keep the trees on it in good health. If you must cut a tree down, plant two to take its place.

Yoga instructors must teach the principles of Aparigraha and Karma Yoga. The health of the entire planet is at stake. Make your students aware of small ways in which they can help. As consumers, we can take action (karma) to guide the auto industry into manufacturing more hybrid automobiles, and eventually, phase out the current gasoline burning models. We can invest in companies which work to develop cleaner sources of energy.

So far, the action to make positive changes, worldwide, has begun, but we must remain dedicated to change for the sake of global health and future generations.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications