teaching autumn yogaBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

There are many different styles and nuances of Yoga classes that you can offer to your students as a certified instructor. Although you may have trained to become a professionally certified Yoga teacher in a specific style, there are many ways that you can creatively sequence your classes, in order to address the individual needs of your students. One way to creatively design a sequence of Yoga postures, pranayama exercises and relaxation techniques, is to follow the natural rhythm and flow of the seasons.

Connecting with the wisdom of the flow of the seasons is often easier in temperate areas, which have four distinct seasons throughout the year. In temperate, seasonally distinct areas, you will be able to feel the shift of energy throughout the year. In the Northeastern United States, this shift is quite evident as the leaves change into a multi-colored palate of mahogany, deep maroons and golden yellows. As the temperatures also begin to drop, the brisk air that is richly scented with pine and the earthy smell of damp leaves that have fallen to the ground, many of us feel invigorated and inspired.

Back bending Yoga postures are wonderful for increasing this sense of expansion, lightness and energy throughout the body. These poses help to amplify the natural invigoration of the fall season. Backbends also help to release and break up stagnant energy, both physically and emotionally. There are many different backbends from which to choose when you are designing a Yoga class. Some of these poses may not be often thought of as backbends, even though many of the following postures are profoundly effective beginning and intermediate back bending asanas.

For instance, Warrior 1 or Virabhadrasana I, has a strong back bending component to it. In the same way, Crescent Pose also has a strong back bending movement inherent in the posture. Of course, there are more strenuous back bending postures that you can teach to your students, such as Camel Pose or Wheel Pose. However, not all of your Yoga students will actually be able to practice these more advanced back bending asanas safely or comfortably.

Many of your beginning and intermediate Yoga students will benefit more from engaging in less challenging back bending postures, until their bodies are able to fluidly move into an advanced backbend, such as Wheel Pose, with ease and in correct alignment. When a student practices a pose in poor alignment, the pose can do more harm than good! Of course, the importance of maintaining correct alignment is one of the primary aspects of any Yoga teacher training program and is usually addressed quite thoroughly throughout the course of the program.

* Modified Extended Child’s Pose in a Flowing Style

A very accessible beginning back bending pose that is not usually thought of as a classic backbend, is Extended Child’s Pose. This posture is quite manageable for most Yoga students. Extended Child’s Pose helps to elongate the entire spine, releases tension throughout the heart area, shoulders, neck, and throat chakra, which will help to prepare your students for more advanced backbends.

To teach your Yoga students Extended Child’s Pose in a flowing style, have them come to a kneeling position on their mats. When they are ready, ask them to extend their arms comfortably in front of them and place their cupped hands on the Yoga mat, approximately shoulders’ distance apart. With an exhale; instruct them to gently extend their arms fully as they move their heart down towards the mat. With their next inhale, ask your students to arch their back like a cat and gaze at their belly button.

With each successive inhale and exhale, repeat this cat-like movement in Extended Child’s Pose. This will increase the effectiveness of the posture and will also teach your students the fundamental aspect of linking their movement with their breath. As your Yoga students begin to release the constriction throughout their front upper torso, neck, throat, and shoulders, they will feel more spacious in their bodies, which will create more of an internal spaciousness within their minds.

As the simple gift of ease and spaciousness increases with each inhalation and exhalation during their practice of this flowing version of Extend Child’s Pose, you can gently invite your students to release any negative emotions, thinking patterns or beliefs that may be holding them back in their lives. In this way, their Yoga practice will begin to mirror the release of the brilliantly colored fall leaves as they drift to the soft earth below. When you offer your students Yoga classes that are informed by the rich wisdom of the seasons, they will quite naturally align and be supported by the rhythms of the natural world around them.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she specializes in writing customized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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