Yoga Teacher Training: Introduction to the Yogic Energy Body

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

In Yoga, and Ayurveda, the Yogic body is composed of three bodies. One is the physical body (sthula sharira), which we can easily see. Another is the causal body (karana sharira), which we often refer to as the soul.

The energy body (sukshma sharira), is often called the subtle, vital, or Pranic body. This is very often a mystery to many, and confusing to more, but let’s take a tour of the energy body and you will understand it much better.

If someone does not believe in the existence of the energy body – I would ask how the physical body runs without electricity. Without electricity, we would have heart failure, and very big problems, if our hearts are not restarted.

How is the heart restarted? Sometimes CPR is enough, but most often CPR helps just long enough for a defibrillator to be used to restart the heart. The defibrillator causes low voltage electric current to enter the body through paddles or patches, which are then applied to the chest.

At the atomic level, your body is full of electrons, flying all over the place, and some are flying around the body. We cannot see it, but we know it is happening. How is this? We have faith in science, but science cannot measure everything.

For centuries, Ayurvedic doctors, and doctors of Chinese medicine, mentioned the electro-magnetic body, but western medicine scoffed at the idea of it. How could there be energy meridians? Does acupuncture really work or is it a “side show?” How come the energy meridians of Chinese medicine line up with the Nadis of Ayurvedic medicine?

Time has passed, and western medicine has now started to work in harmony with Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Maybe there’s something to the Yogic energy body after all. So, what are the main parts of the Yogic energy body?

Nadis (Energy Meridians): There are 72,000 Nadis in the electro-magnetic body, which send vital energy (Prana) from one point to another. Shushumna, Ida, and Pingala are considered the most important to Yoga students – although, 14 main Nadis should covered, when this subject is covered during a Yoga teacher training intensive.

Marmas (Pressure or Energy Points): There are 107 Marmas, and some say 108, but they can be effectively treated for healing purposes. Unfortunately, they can also be considered strike points in martial arts, but these energy points correspond, regardless of the purpose.

Chakras (Energy Vortices): There are seven main chakras, which transform magnetic currents of the earth into energy of the physical body. This physical energy balances the central nervous system and the endocrine system. There are also many secondary and minor Chakras.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Yoga Teacher Training: Am I Too Old to Become a Yoga Teacher?

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

All too frequently, I am asked by middle-aged or senior students, who aspire to become a Yoga teacher, “When is the best time to become a Yoga teacher?” Has the window of time passed for this opportunity, and is a younger Yoga instructor better suited to teach Yoga to the public?

Some of these veteran Yoga students have decades of experience, but feel intimidated by the “young hard bodies.” This is a deep subject, so let’s take a closer look at what holds some of us back from becoming a Yoga teacher.

The following three issues are worth mentioning at this point:

  1. Is Hatha Yoga strictly a physical practice?
  2. If Hatha Yoga were an exercise class, the value of a “coach” is worthy of note.
  3. There are so many Yoga students over 40 years of age, who desire a knowledgeable, mature, and careful Yoga teacher.

Is Hatha Yoga strictly a physical practice? No – Hatha Yoga covers mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects, as well as the physical aspects of life. The public has been duped by pretzel asanas (postures) on the covers of magazines.

If you never studied Yoga, you might not know better, but I am surprised when a student, with ten or more years of practice, still sees asana as the “Holy Grail” of Hatha Yoga. Asana is very valuable, but does not govern Hatha Yoga.

Pranayama (cultivation of life force through breath) is the ruler of body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Pranayama keeps you healthy in all aspects of existence, and Pranayama governs many asana techniques. If you cannot breathe correctly, asana performance can be very frustrating – when folding, balancing, or twisting. Pranayama makes mudra (gestures), and bandha (locks), purification of the nadis (energy channels), and meditation, much more powerful.

However, Pranayama is not the only aspect of Hatha Yoga. It is just one of the many aspects mentioned within the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Maharishi Patanjali mentions eight limbs within the Yoga Sutras. Asana is just one of the eight limbs of Yoga, but asana can be seen, and can be performed, to impress the public.

Would the public be impressed by Samadhi (the settled mind)? You already know the answer – The general public is impressed by the superficial aspects of Yoga, but Yoga is much more than one aspect.

If Hatha Yoga were simply an exercise class, the value of a “coach” is still worthy of note. The definition of a “teacher” in most languages is, “One who has been there before.”

When you can teach a Yoga student how to perform an asana technique correctly, but you cannot perform the same asana perfectly, that is a part of being a teacher. The fact is – you understand the mechanics as good as anyone.

There are so many Yoga students over 40 years of age, who desire a knowledgeable, mature, and careful Yoga teacher. Many beginner Yoga students are 40 years of age or more. In my Chair Yoga classes, many new Yoga students are over 65.

How is it possible that a veteran student with decades of experience and practice cannot see his or her self-worth, as a Yoga teacher? Where does this self-doubt originate from? Could a young Yoga teacher graduate understand the pains, aches, medical conditions, and limitations of older students?

Quite simply, a Yoga teacher graduate over 40 years of age has the major advantage of life experience. This is not meant to take credit away from young, compassionate, and well-trained Yoga teachers; but how many of them can understand working around physical or mental injuries from experience.

Let’s make a comparison of the human body to an automobile. When you are a young driver, you really learn about auto parts the hard way: When they break down and cost you money. Your friends will also tell you about their experiences with auto maintenance. You can sit in a class and learn about auto mechanics to your heart’s content, but the lesson is not the same.

Time and experience are an education. Now, your Yoga students are not automobiles, but life’s lessons are very valuable when teaching Yoga. Your previous life experience is a treasure when working with your Yoga students.

So, what does hold some experienced Yoga students back from becoming a Yoga teacher? If you have been on this earth for a while, you have experienced more failures than someone who is decades younger. Past failures sit deep in our memory and haunt us – even when we know we should act.

This is a good time to examine your self-worth and realize how often the “skeletons in your closet” are holding you back from taking action. Youthful exuberance is an advantage, when making decisions within a given “window of time. Yet hasty decisions can be avoided, when you research the demand for your Yoga teaching services.

If there is no demand, there is no point in becoming a Yoga teacher, but on further investigation, the demand for experienced teachers, who can teach students over 40 years of age, is quite strong. In Europe and North America, the numbers of people turning 50 years of age, at this moment, is huge.

According to some studies, every seven seconds one American becomes 50 years of age. Robin Kocina, President of Mid-America Events & Expos said, “The 55-plus market is growing six times faster than the rest of the population, and is finally beginning to get the recognition it deserves.”

Consider these words by Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Never let fear get in the way of a rational and researched decision.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Yoga for Self-Confidence

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How can Yoga help you to start living your own life, enable you to pursue your passions, and stop living for the approval of someone else’s standards? How can Yoga help us discard feelings of guilt and self-doubt? How can Yoga help you to be pro-active about life, instead of waiting to solve problems when they surface? Let’s look at these questions, and see how Yoga can help anyone establish self-confidence.

How could Yoga really help you to start living your own life and stop living for the approval of someone else’s standards? Have you ever wondered what your higher purpose was in life?

Everyone asks themselves questions like these, but you will not find your true purpose in life, if you are living the dreams of someone else. What are your own personal passions? You have to establish your own true purpose in life with complete honesty.

You must analyze what you do well, what your passions are, what your responsibilities are, and then make a decision about your purpose in life, by setting small goals, in order to attain your ultimate goal.

Along the way, you must make sure that your purpose is ethical and noble. Within the Yoga Sutras, the first two limbs covered are Yama and Niyama, which are ethical codes of conduct.

The energy you put into your passion should always be positive and ethical, but be prepared for obstacles, as life is full of them. Obstacles build our character and make the journey interesting, but challenging.

How can Yoga help us discard feelings of guilt and self-doubt? Many of us live with guilty feelings for past deeds, but we cannot live in the past. If you have wronged someone, make it up to them or to their family.

If you have stolen something, return it, in a way that does not make the situation worse. Do the best you can do and stop wasting your life worrying about the past. A life lesson always contains value, but you must have insight to create a positive situation from it.

Guilt is a burden, which we create, but we are not required to carry it around for life. You must forgive yourself and try your best to forgive others. When you forgive yourself, and others, you gain freedom (Samadhi). Freedom from hate will become devotion (Bhakti) to higher causes and to God.

When you give to anyone, or to any charity, channel the positive energy of giving into self-forgiveness. When you give to others, you will feel gratification and worthy of forgiveness. If you cannot afford to give, you should help others through Karma Yoga (selfless service). It is still giving to visit a person who needs companionship or to help your neighbor.

How can Yoga help you to be pro-active about life, instead of waiting to solve problems when they surface? Anyone who practices Yoga, over time, becomes pro-active about mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. It cannot be helped because the practice of Yoga causes the practitioner to gravitate toward positive action.

There will always be situations in life which we have to react to. If you see a house on fire, you will have some kind of reaction. This is the nature of life: the unexpected happens. As humans, we cannot foresee every situation in life, but we can practice Yoga to expand our awareness.

Being proactive opens a new form of awareness to the world around you. Proactive behavior will help you avoid many bad situations through enhanced intuition and common sense.

© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications