yoga teacher training courseBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

If you are a Yoga teacher or an experienced practitioner, the following tips may be of use to your students or friends.  By now, almost everyone has probably heard about the benefits of Yoga. Everyone probably knows someone, a friend of a friend, or a relative, who practices Yoga and raves about it. Perhaps they have even thought about trying it themselves, but dismissed it. Yoga can often feel intimidating to beginners, mostly because of all the unknown factors. Truth be told, beginners have nothing to fear. Yoga for beginners is a non-intimidating, welcoming environment where interested people can learn the techniques and lifestyle, which we know improves the quality of life.

Check with a Doctor

As it is with any other form of movement, people should always check with their doctors before beginning to practice Yoga. Perhaps there are specific health concerns the Yoga teacher should be aware of, or poses to be avoided because of an injury or tender area. Pregnant women should always let the instructor know of their condition as well, because some of the poses must be adapted to accommodate the growing fetus.  However, to be safe, pregnant students should practice with a certified prenatal Yoga instructor in a specialized class.

Equipment and Clothing

Yoga requires very little in the way of clothing and equipment. Many Yoga centers provide mats, blocks, and straps for participants to use. Some people prefer to use their own mats, which can be purchased from a variety of sporting goods stores. Blocks and straps are often helpful for students, who do not have the flexibility to perform some of the postures. Again, these are often provided by the Yoga facility, but can certainly be purchased.

Yoga students should wear comfortable clothing that moves with the body. Loose t-shirts and pants can pose problems during certain poses, as they ride down the belly or up the leg. Most Yoga-inspired clothing is a blend of cotton and spandex, to provide soft, comfortable clothing that hugs the body. Most importantly, participants should wear what they are comfortable in, and clothing that poses little disruption to the postures.

Classes

Beginner Yoga classes move slowly, ensuring that all participants learn how to perform each technique properly. Yoga teachers often demonstrate the technique, talking about how it should feel, and other important cues to watch for. Then, the students practice it with the teacher or the teacher walks around the room to make sure each student is practicing correctly. The connection between the teacher and the student should be constant.  In other words: A teacher should observe and communicate with students at all times.  Yoga instructors are trained to watch the students carefully, to determine who needs extra support, or to help if there is a problem with safety or alignment. Students will find that the soothing environment and the careful guidance of the Yoga teacher creates a positive experience during classes. People of all physical abilities can attend a beginner’s Yoga class and succeed with gentle guidance.

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