Yoga in Practice: Speak with Mindfulness

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Within the average Yoga class, or ashram, the principles of mindfulness are mentioned for the benefit of Yoga students, their friends, and the people they associate within the course of a day. Mindfulness is living in the moment, and putting the wisdom you have learned, during Yoga class, into practice.

Therefore, mindfulness is carried into everyday situations. What good is learning Yoga, if you cannot apply it to “real life?” If all you learn, in your Yoga class, is postures, then you have missed out on the vastness of Yoga and its many aspects. With that said, we will discuss the aspect of mindfulness, as it applies to our communication with others.

Whenever, you engage another person in conversation, always think before talking. This may sound simple, but everybody knows someone who does not think before talking. Hence the saying: “Putting his foot in his mouth,” is appropriate. Children do this, but it is innocent, and they do not yet understand all the rules of etiquette.

Your mind has many random thoughts, and there is no need to expose them to the world. Good politicians, sales people, and diplomats are masters at saying enough to stay out of a conflict, but still manage to get a particular point across. What is the technique they use? In a “nut shell,” it is mindfulness.

Try to avoid conversation when you are not focused, tense, or not in the present moment. If a situation seems potentially volatile, you should pick the time to engage the other party in conversation. Set the tone of the conversation by using a relaxed approach and listen carefully.

When you maintain an air of good will and positive thoughts, it becomes difficult to pursue a conflict with you. Be aware that when you slow down and relax, most people will respond the same. Therefore, you can control a meeting by radiating thoughts of kindness. You do this by showing respect and thinking positively about the other person, despite your differences.

There are exceptions to every rule, and I do not endorse complete surrender, unless you are wrong. However, when you listen emphatically and are fully present for the other party, you will most likely resolve, or avoid, a conflict.

All of us need to learn to laugh at ourselves and develop a sense of humor. This will give you a completely different perspective of yourself, and you won’t worry about feeling embarrassed or making a mistake. This perspective will also allow you to be mindful of yourself and your words.

If you take the time to speak with gentleness, mindfulness, and loving kindness, the world will respond in kind. At the same time you won’t waste energy defending your ego. Always remember the old saying, “Life is too short to waste time fighting.”

Yoga in Practice: Time Management

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

You learn many things in a Yoga class, such as: Living in the present moment; but how can you put your Yoga training into practice in today’s hectic world? We learn to meditate so the mind will stop multi-tasking, but once you leave the Yoga studio, or ashram, you have to face the world again.

So, how do you take the soothing effects of your Yoga training practice and apply them to the rest of your day? Develop a system where you use your time wisely. This is the wisdom of time management, as applied to “real life.”

We’re not discussing a “catch phrase,” or short-term solution, where a manager goes to a one-day workshop on time management, and then comes back lecturing his, or her, staff, about their time management.

The irony is that, most of the time, this type of manager is aware of time management because he, or she, wastes plenty of time. This usually goes on until the next workshop, and then management will learn a new catch phrase to tell the staff about something else that they are doing wrong.

What we are discussing is a lifestyle, and possibly a big change, just like the first time you visited a Yoga class. In a “nut shell,” we have limited time on this earth and we cannot afford to waste it thinking about future worries, past regrets, fighting with loved ones, or leaving goals on hold.

Most of us leave dreams, goals, relationships, and ambitions on the “back burner,” while the daily routine of life goes by. No wonder people complain about the monotony of daily tasks. Very often, we hear, “I don’t have time to learn new skills, go to night school, practice Yoga teacher training, or become a Yoga teacher.”

Remember when you were a child and life seemed to go by so slowly? You had time to play, watch television, listen to the radio, and lay around, without a care in the world. Now, welcome to adulthood, life is flying by at a rapid pace, and goals sometimes seem further away than ever before.

Your starting point is today. All you have to do is write your list of tasks for tomorrow. This is commonly called a “to do list.” You can post it on a piece of paper, on your desktop, in your PDA, or anywhere you will refer to it in a day.

To be honest, I put the piece of paper in my pocket and refer to it during the day. Sometimes, the lesson plan for my next Yoga class can be found in my pocket, too. This is a reflection of my time line, and my generation, but my son would put it on his PDA. Whatever you choose is fine, as long as you refer to it, and get something done.

Notice, I did not say get everything done. Somehow, life throws us curves and your “well laid” plans may not fit into the daily time frame. You learn this in your Yoga training too. It is absolutely necessary that all of us accept change. These days, change occurs on a daily basis, so there is no need to become tense about it. This explains why so many corporate fitness centers have Yoga classes, or meditation programs, for their employees.

Be prepared to make modifications to your plans or “turn on a dime.” Deadlines should be taken seriously, but sometimes life gets in the way. There are times when the path you are on will have to be altered. So, be prepared to have a backup plan.

Remember the Serenity Prayer: “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” It goes without saying, that you will waste a lot of time and energy, if you don’t know the difference.

The next point to cover is when to multi-task. What is this? You say, “This doesn’t sound very Yogic.” Yoga refers to “unity” or “union,” and we must exist in harmony with life as it is today. The mind naturally multi-tasks so, let’s make the most of our time.

In ancient times people multi-tasked, too. Why else would people around the world practice meditation for thousands of years? Why else would the people of India practice Yoga for over 5,000 years? Stress was one of many things our ancestors, and the ancient Yogis, have in common with us, and we know that stress is a killer. Most likely stress is linked to every ailment that is connected to mankind.

True irony is when you consider planning time, and start to make excuses why you don’t have time to manage, or plan, your time wisely. If you like to watch television, you could do a little planning at the same time. Ideally, it is best to be totally focused, thinking clearly, and be in a quiet place when planning time.

However, there are other forms of multi-tasking you can do such as listening to an audio book in the car, using an exercise bike while watching television, and reading or listening to books while traveling. There are a number of Yoga, and Yogic philosophy audio books, available.

On the other hand, we know multi-tasking can go too far. I will never forget commuting into Boston, stuck in traffic, and seeing a guy next to me reading a newspaper on his steering wheel! Within the same month, I saw a motorist driving with a hamburger in one hand, and a milk shake in the other, while driving through stop and go traffic on Interstate 95!

We’re not considering reckless multi-tasking, but consider combining tasks that don’t require 100% focus. For example, you cannot focus entirely on an audio book while driving, and you may have to listen to it quite a few times before you mentally digest all the material.

For this very reason, you should not consider listening to, and concentrating on, meditation audio books, while driving your car or operating machinery. Yogic philosophy is one thing, but trying to listen to or practice with a meditation audio book, while driving, is quite another. Therefore, be very careful about the safety factors involved in multi-tasking.

Another point to cover is logistics. When you consider where you are going, always plan to avoid “back tracking.” For example: If you are picking the kids up from school and have to get groceries, make it into a combined trip. If you make it into two trips, this is truly a waste of time. Therefore, plan your trips, whether they are time spent in a car, riding a bike, or walking.

Lastly, make time for family, friends, and loved ones. “Unify” your time for a balanced life. Life is not, “all work and no play,” but life is not sitting around living the life of a “couch potato.”

Remember one of the best excuses for not attending a Yoga class: “I don’t have the time.”

A “Must Have” Book for Yoga Teacher Training

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Are you looking for the perfect tool to enhance you yoga instructor training knowledge? Imagine a book with two CDs that expands your ability to speak Sanskrit while you teach Yoga classes. This book would be the perfect addition for any Yoga teacher training program.

At last, the mystery of how to pronounce Sanskrit terms properly has been revealed. Have you been looking for an English / Sanskrit cross reference? Are the exact pronunciations of Sanskrit terms still a mystery? Would you like to learn a lot more about Sanskrit as it pertains to Yoga?

You don’t have to search anymore. “The Language of Yoga” is an interactive book and double CD set written by Nicolai Bachman. This interactive “course” includes more than 200 asanas with illustrated yoga postures and 300 Sanskrit definitions.

In between teaching Yoga classes and writing, I have some time to read, and I was happy that I took the time to read Nicolai Bachman’s 139 page cross reference book for converting Sanskrit terms to English.

The two CD’s that accompany the book make this work “come to life.” The first CD covers chants for Yoga practice, Yoga Sutras, and Yogic terms. The second CD covers Ashtanga sequences, names of asanas, and much more. In the course of studying this interactive book, you will learn the basic guidelines of pronunciation for many more words.

The author, Nicolai Bachman, guides you through correct pronunciations with the exact rhythm and tone. This book is a masterpiece and a priceless reference tool for any serious student, or teacher, of Yoga. For Yoga book collectors, this book will be remembered with your personal favorites.

At this time, there is no other book on the market that provides this much in-depth study of the Sanskrit words a Yoga teacher uses in class and then it cross references to English. Words are grouped together by subject, such as numbers, Chakras, Bandhas, Mudras, Yamas, and Niyamas. Many of the words that you might hear in the average Yoga class are no longer a mystery to pronounce for English speaking Yoga students.

Nicolai Bachman has been a teacher of Sanskrit, and related subjects, since 1994. He has studied at VagYoga Institute in Varanasi, India, the American Sanskrit Institute, the American Institute of Vedic Studies, the Vedic Chant Center, the Ayurvedic Institute, and received his M.A. in Eastern Philosophy from St. John’s College.

Nicolai is a 500-hour level Registered Yoga Teacher. He teaches Sanskrit, Ayurveda, and Yoga Philosophy; Nicolai currently teaches in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This book will be released later this month, at which time we will have them in supply. Don’t stay in the dark about speaking Sanskrit, especially if you are teaching Yoga classes. Now, you can be confident that your pronunciation is correct.

I enjoyed the book, so much, that I ordered a shipment for our staff, on-site Yoga teacher training interns, and Yoga teachers, we network with worldwide. If you are interested in getting a copy, feel free to contact Aura Wellness Center.

You can get this amazing resource for only $24.95 USD, delivered within the United States. Overseas orders can get pricing by sending an Email with the destination country. Rates for shipping do vary depending on the destination.

We will be adding “The Language of Yoga” book and the two instructional CDs to our advanced Yoga instructor certification courses in 2006.