By Sangeetha Saran
As you know, there are many paths of teaching Yoga. As the practice of Yoga becomes more and more common, it is becoming quite apparent that this ancient system of physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques predictably enhances overall physical health and vitality. Regular practice of asanas, pranayama exercises, and meditation techniques also consistently tends to improve a practitioner’s mental outlook and emotional well-being. As a professional Yoga instructor, offering classes that are geared toward both physical and emotional health will support your students in creating and maintaining a state of vibrant well-being.
Yoga for Anxiety
A rapidly growing, highly marketable niche in the Yoga teaching industry is the offering of Yoga classes, which are specifically designed to address the underlying causes of anxiety and depression. These uncomfortably low mood states can easily undermine a student’s dreams and goals, not to mention his or her physical and mental health. Tailoring a sequence of asanas, pranayama exercises, and meditation practices toward shifting your students out of an adrenalin-driven, anxious state to one that is grounded and calm, is a great service to your students. The many paths of teaching Yoga give you options.
Elevate Your Moods
In addition, by including postures in your Yoga classes that relieve tension and open up the heart area, such as back bending poses, you will effectively support the ability of a well-rounded practice of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to elevate their mood. If you pause for a moment to consider your own life experiences, you may remember a time when you were feeling particularly down. This may have been due to a painful situation, such as the loss of a loved one or a difficult break-up. For many of us, if you bring a painful memory to your mind, even momentarily, your shoulders will begin to hunch up as you collapse in your heart area.
About Collapsed Physical Posture
This is a very common physical reaction to painful or stressful life events. By offering your Yoga students a class that is specifically designed to reverse the collapse of the heart area, release tension throughout the shoulders, neck, and throat areas, and expand the flow of life force energy throughout the body, you will immediately help to reverse this collapsed physical posture, which physiologically locks a student into an anxious and depressed state. Please note that if you have a Yoga student in your class who is struggling with a serious level of anxiety and/or depression, it is important for that student to seek medical attention from a licensed therapist or medical professional.
Upavishta Konasana B
Upavishta Konasana B is one of my very favorite Yoga poses for expanding the heart area and releasing tension throughout the thoracic spine, which is located just behind the heart chakra and between the shoulder blades. These postures also help to improve balance and increase flexibility in the hamstrings, ankles, and inner leg muscles. In addition, Upavishta Konasana B elicits an emotional feeling of nobility, as it releases tension throughout the upper arms, shoulders, and neck areas.
About the Primary Series
Upavishta Konasana B is usually practiced towards the end of a Yoga class and often just before a series of seated forward folds. In the Ashtanga Primary Series, it is practiced approximately mid-way through the sequence of Yoga postures, which is laid out in detail by well-known teachers, such as Pattabhi Jois. When you are ready to lead your students through the practice of Upavishta Konasana B, have them sit comfortably in Butterfly Pose on their Yoga mats and clasp their first two toes. With their next exhale, have your students unfurl their wings, as it were, and extend their legs up into a “V” position.
Finishing Upavishta Konasana B
In order to maintain balance in this pose, it is important to apply gentle, firm pressure against the fingers with the toes. It is also important to advise your Yoga students to hold a firm drishti or gazing point in front of them, while they are in this posture. Maintaining a drishti point will help to stabilize their balance, by providing a steady point of concentration for the mind. As your students apply gentle pressure against their fingers with their toes, encourage them to expand their heart area, so that they can fully benefit from the expansive, heart-opening nature of Upavishta Konasana B.
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Walking Boldly on the Teacher’s Path
By Diane M. Cruz
I used to think that in order to teach yoga I had to know everything. Additionally, I thought teachers knew all there is to know about yoga. How limiting is that? Of course, that assumption overwhelmed me. So much so that I almost gave up on the whole idea of teaching in the first place. The big huge world of yoga knowledge was just too vast. Sometimes, it was so confusing that I wondered how many teacher training courses to take before I “felt” ready. Yet, this is not something that can be taught in teacher training. You decide when you are ready, you decide when you are a teacher. The door was wide open and I was too timid to walk through even though I was fully equipped.
The Teaching Path
Then one day I wasn’t afraid. I don’t remember what changed, but I “felt” ready. I knew I would never know it all and that the knowledge I have come across so far was plenty to at least start teaching. So I stepped boldly on the teacher’s path and never looked back. The many paths of teaching Yoga would not hold me back.
Education and Experience
I do the best that I can study on my own and with constant contact with my yoga teacher who lives on the other side of the states. In my own yoga practice, students and class teach me daily what I need to learn. To not know it all is o.k., to pretend like I know it all is NOT o.k. Some of my favorite yoga classes have been from teachers who are honest, open, and love yoga. Should it be any more than that? As mentioned above: There are many paths of teaching Yoga, but the qualities of great teachers remain the same over time.
About the Author
Diane M. Cruz is a Yoga Teacher and Life Coach in San Diego, California. She believes in cultivating a strong body and mind to keep you moving on your life path. Her classes and coaching sessions will empower you by providing life-enhancing tools to apply immediately to your life.