Inside This Edition
In this edition, we continue to part two of the four part series by Professor Dario Colombera from the University of Padua, in Padua, Italy.
Also I have included part two of a three part series on Yoga teacher ethics.
The other two parts can be found our Yoga Teacher Training Blog.
Yoga Teacher Training Blog
I want to thank those of you who wrote me for your kind words about the articles on our Blog, which was just created this year. I also want to thank the guest authors and friends for their fresh ideas.
You will see a variety of articles from many different authors, so please accept my invitation to write and have any of your articles published at my new Blog. If you want to leave a comment at the end of an article, please feel free to do so.
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If you are a Yoga instructor or studio manager and want to establish a reciprocal link to the Yoga teacher training blog, please feel free to contact me with your website or blog information. As many of you know the more links you have, the more popular your Yoga sites will be.
The Right Attitudes to Perform Hatha Yoga (Part II)
By Dario Colombera
(II), Before starting, practise the visualization of the exercise.
In other words, live your exercise in your mind before you perform it.
(III*), Use a tantric concentration and a karmic attitude;
If there is a type of concentration very adept for the Westerners, this is tantric meditation. In fact, it is proper both for atheists and believers – for busy people who don’t have time to devote themselves to other extra activities, or for those persons who don’t intend to abdicate their own sexual activities. As a matter of fact, a tantric attitude is suitable to optimize any activity.
In general, I recommend the following exercise:
Pay attention to what you are doing in the pause between the two breaths.
Be confident that such type of concentration can be practiced in every moment of your life, but be alert to look at the incoming future and not at the past.
(IV*), Understand which is the real true perfection of asanas;
The myth of perfection, so rooted in western cultures, must be considered with suspect, when you are dealing with asanas. This axiom is right for a gymnast, or for an engineer, but it is not at all correct in the case of biological evolution and for the practice of Hatha Yoga.
In these endeavours, perfection doesn’t exist as such, since we are dealing with the evolution of defective individuals toward an ampler perception of their outer and inner world; and this development must be accomplished by overcoming imperfections little by little.
Going to asanas, I recall that a gymnastically perfect execution is not advisable to neophytes, because it would probably harm them. If you try to emulate the teacher that introduces you to a perfect asana, probably you will strive yourself over the licit.
Mainly because of the restless conditions of normal mind, you should not wonder if the asanas of beginners and old people are gymnastically modest .
Insofar, a correct execution is done with gentleness and harmony, without hurry, without going beyond your own normal respiratory capabilities, without suffering unbearable pains of joints and muscles.
In other words, an asana is well performed when it respects your limits, and not those of some gymnastic perfection, of your vanity, and of your hurry to progress. If you have the tendency to breathe more quickly, you are striving. If you lose the visualization of the exercise, or it causes you unbearable pains, you are striving. If you cannot maintain your position or your muscles tremble, you are overdoing.
(V*), Perform the asana by means of muscular relaxation also; Because of the normal presence of consistent permanent contractions of skeletal muscles, any harmonic activity of antagonist muscles is impossible; and therefore, it is necessary to learn to relax them.
Thus, you will spend less energy in muscular actions, you will realize a reduction of the subconscious contractions of your muscles, you will improve the mobility of your joints, and you will increase blood circulation and lymphatic flow.
Such a new style of moving must be applied during all the asanas and Padangustasana is an ideal exercise to understand the difference between throwing and relaxing in practical terms.
Also, Savasana and Vipassana meditation are useful to get aware of the presence of such subconscious muscular contractions. Anyway, all the asanas have the outstanding function of eliminating the simultaneous and correlated activities between unconscious mind and skeletal musculature.
(VI*), Rest and concentrate after each asana.
For the neophyte, it is necessary to understand that the exercise doesn’t end just by returning in the initial Savasana, but it continues and becomes completed there.
Each asana ends in three phases:
(A), Returning to the initial posture and then in Savasana.
(B), Bringing your attention on your body, performing a rapids Vipassana like investigation, paying particular care to aching muscles.
(C), End your relaxation when all, or almost all, your pains and fatigue have disappeared.
In this way, you will achieve the full benefit of your asana and you will become aware of the presence of possible troubles in joints and muscles – otherwise not perceivable. Be ready to accept that the times of recovery might be longer than those spent in the exercise.
(VII*), Understand the various meanings of the different pains you suffer during the asanas.
The physical pains you can suffer during an asana are of four types:
(A), Pains due to the rigidity of your joints, due to permanent subconscious muscular contractures. Such pains are intense, but well known. They are due to the fact that your articulations are stiff and that your muscles are contracted and out of training. Such pains must be suffered in the limits of common sense, and they should disappear when the exercise is stopped. It follows that the more an exercise is difficult to you, the more you need it.
In general, I warn: Pain distracts, therefore, if you want to meditate, avoid painful positions. The sitting positions, that are the most recommended for meditation, are always very painful for a westerner. Therefore, I suggest three stratagems: firstly before taking a seat, force the articulations for a few minutes, in the limit of the bearable, in a similar, but more severe asana than that selected to meditate.
Secondly, during the definitive asana, raise the bottom from the ground, using a book, a rigid stool or other gadgets. Thirdly, pay attention to your painful limbs since they will then relax.
Only when you become able to stop the activity of your mind, you will realize that you were not able to keep a position because of pains due to subconscious muscular contractures.
(B), Subliminal pains, due to the most different causes – which are only perceived during the asanas. Such discomforts are index of the presence of some physical trouble of which you were not aware before.
It is important to watch out if such pains decrease, or increase, after your asanas. If they increase, the exercises have to be suspended for a certain period of time. If your job is heavy or too sedentary, such pains will be more probable. Two or three minutes of concentrations on the aching limbs (possibly keeping your hands on them) generally helps to cure them.
(C), Pains due to a wrong execution of the exercise, that don’t disappear during the resting phase and over. In this case, the exercise must be suspended, until these pains have disappeared.
(D), Pains due to contractions of skeletal muscles, due to negative unconscious emotions. These troubles can often be perceived only during an asana. Two or three minutes of concentrations, on the aching limbs, generally helps to cure the aching member.
Among mental pains, such as anxiety, emotional stress, discouragement, etc., I would add the emotional refusal that often strikes you before to start a session of Hatha Yoga. Contrary to all other pains, this sorrow possesses a positive connotation: It means that your discipline is annoying your subconscious.
There are naturally some dangers when you penetrate in the unexplored zones of your deepest reality, as it happens with the practice of the Yogas. Insofar – be cautious – search for the help of a true Yogi.
Prof. Dario Colombera
Via Trespole 68
35037 Teolo (Padua) Italy
Tel.: (Italy) 049 9925217
Yoga Teachers Lead by Example (Part 2)
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
It is a shame that proper behavior, respect, and ethics do not make great headlines in the newspapers. Just watch the news, and read the newspaper for a week, to confirm what makes “good copy.” It will not take long for you to find a dozen, or dozens, of scandals.
We all make mistakes, and none of us wants to have them in print, but some are preventable. Here are some guidelines for Yoga teachers to consider when teaching their students. As a leader and role model, your ethical behavior will be duplicated by your Yoga students.
There is no need for an air of superiority within the Yoga class. Everyone is good at something, so why waste time and energy trying to impress your students, or the public, about your ability as a Yoga instructor. If students are attending your Yoga classes, they are already impressed, so there is no need to turn your Yoga studio into a “circus act.”
If someone does not practice Yoga, or is not a vegetarian, please do not bolster your ego over the issue. Do not engage in hostile debates over these issues. There is a time, place, and method for convincing people about health issues, but hostility will not convince anyone.
Bias and discrimination are hard habits to break. Sometimes, these ideas exist within families for generations. Yoga teachers should accept students, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnic origin, age, social status, or any other reason we can find to be unjustifiably bias. Most of all, Yoga teachers should avoid any form of intolerance.
In the case of age – children who are too young may have a separate Yoga class, but this depends on the patience of the Yoga teacher and the group. Some “Mommy and me” Yoga classes run along smoothly, but some adult students do not want to be in a Yoga training session with children.
I teach children four years of age and up, but it is specifically within a kids Yoga class. This is much different from a typical adult Yoga class, and the circus act I mentioned earlier might be fine. Do not be surprised to see children perform difficult asanas, but do not expose them to hazards.
In the course of a week, I teach many chair Yoga classes, and these are usually age specific. However, when seniors show up to a Yoga training session, at a studio, or ashram, they should be welcomed and modifications should be taught – if they are needed.
Getting back to discrimination in general: The largest problem with bias is our history of war crimes, holocaust, atrocities, and slavery. Discrimination cannot go unchecked, and it has no place anywhere, especially in a Yoga studio or ashram. If you teach Yoga to a specific religious sect, that is fine, but do not speak harshly of those who are not present.
It comes down to the golden rule, which is very universal to most of the world’s religions, and I will conclude this part with a quote. Most of you will recognize a much similar quote within your own religion. It does shed light on the wisdom of our ancestors.
“This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.”
* Parts I and III of this article can be found in the Yoga Teacher Training Blog.
Restorative Yoga Teacher Training Course
As many of you know, Restorative is a gentle and therapeutic form of Yoga for students who like to relax into their asanas. If you have been looking into the opportunity to become a Yoga instructor – here it is.
We are nearing the end of 2005 and the Restorative Yoga certification course is about to go through some major changes. We will be introducing a new 2006 Yoga anatomy DVD with four hours of lectures and demonstrations. At the same time, we are introducing a new DVD for the practicum. Although this course has always contained prescriptions for ailments and a video, we felt it was important to our interns to get more of the audio and visual flavor of Restorative Yoga.
Therefore, we will be clearing out all of the current Restorative Yoga instructor training courses by December 31, 2005. All of these Yoga instructor certification courses are $50.00 off their regular price, while they last. At this time, we have seven of the 2005 edition Restorative Yoga teacher training courses left.