Whether a Yoga class should start from a standing, or seated, position has always been a subject for debate, but both methods are fine; and many Yoga teachers do both, depending on the particular lesson plan.
One thing that should not be missing from your Yoga class is a warm-up and proper warm-up exercises, which will slowly warm up joints, connective tissue, and muscle tissue. Some Yoga teachers might feel that advanced Yoga practitioners do not need to do a detailed warm up, and I totally disagree with this philosophy.
Consider this: Professional athletes, who practice, and train, almost every day, are always instructed to perform warm-up exercises. This is very cautious, but with professional athletes, thousands, or millions, of dollars could be on the line.
Yoga students do not usually have such “high stakes” involved within the physical performance of their jobs, but each student should be taught with safety guidelines intact. This is why I feel so strongly about the value of a warm-up at the beginning of a Yoga class: It’s just common sense to take care of your students.
Should you start or finish a Yoga class with meditation? Some Yoga teachers guide students through meditation at the beginning, and the end, of the same Yoga class, while some teach meditation only after asana practice.
Unfortunately, a comparatively small number of Hatha Yoga teachers do not include meditation at all. This happens when a Hatha Yoga class is converted into a “fitness only” atmosphere. In truth, this is every Yoga teacher’s prerogative; and some health clubs may not want meditation in Yoga classes.
When you are teaching Hatha Yoga, you are teaching mental, physical, and sometimes, spiritual health. Meditation addresses a very valuable health component, but exercise alone is not a guarantee of good mental health. Hence, if you are teaching any style of Yoga, you should, at least, be teaching the basics of meditation as part of your Yoga classes.
How should you incorporate Pranayama within your Yoga class? With beginners, you should cover at least three Pranayama techniques that you commonly use during the course of a Yoga class. If you make Pranayama an extra curricular part of the class, you may find some beginners will try to avoid that particular time of Yoga class.
Many Yoga teachers have become accustomed to full classes, and it was not that long ago, when we taught to small dedicated groups of students. Therefore, we want to maintain popularity, but any component of Yoga can become unpopular.
This creates a delicate line for full-time Yoga teachers to walk. You know the benefits of long-term Yoga practice, but beginners have to stay long enough to “feel the results.” This is much different from exercise, where a practitioner might see visual results in a month or two.
The many health benefits of a well prepared Yoga class require time, and you must use public relations skills along the way for students to see the “big picture.”
© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications