By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Vinyasa is a popular form of Yoga that is characterized by movement – both while in an asana and when moving between two asanas. The breath initiates all movement in a Vinyasa Yoga class, resulting in a beautiful slow flow. Below are seven things that a Vinyasa Yoga teacher must know.
1. The Importance of Breath. In a Vinyasa class, the breath helps the student move and focus on what is happening within. Without the emphasis on the breath, the practice becomes simply an aerobics class. With the help of Ujjayi pranayama, energy is regulated throughout asana practice. Teachers often say, “Honor your breath,” during flows, which reminds students about maintaining a steady pace with breath, movement, and consumption of energy.
2. Yoga Philosophy. Yoga is an ancient science whose origin dates back over 5,000 years; whose knowledge has been carefully passed from one generation to the next. The philosophy is precious, and it is important for Vinyasa Yoga teachers to acknowledge their place in Yoga history and pass on Vinyasa’s teachings to their students. Today’s teachers should understand the influence of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya on modern Vinyasa Yoga. We should also understand that much has been left to the creativity of today’s teachers, since the Yoga Korunta has been lost. That said, “The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga,” by Srivatsa Ramaswami, is often used as a supplemental resource for teacher trainings to give interns a glimpse into the past.
3. The Definition of Vinyasa. The common definition, today, is “flow” as in – to flow from one pose to the next. Traditionally, “Vinyasa” has been translated as “to place in a special way,” implying that there is an order to, and a reason for the asanas the Vinyasa Yoga teacher selects.
4. Anatomy. Vinyasa Yoga teachers should have basic knowledge of key bones, muscles, and joints. This will help the Yoga instructor better understand how and what the effects will be in regard to the poses and transitions. Additionally, we should know the risks and precautions involved in a sequence for students of different abilities. We must also know how to help students when a pose is not working for them. Therefore, some modifications may help our students as their bodies and minds adjust to a form of meditation in motion.
5. Alignment. A Vinyasa Yoga teacher needs to understand the correct alignment of each pose they teach, so they can help their students experience the intended effect. Misalignment not only detracts from the practice’s intention, it is a risk factor for injuries as well.
6. Adaptation and Alternate Poses. Every body is unique, and there will be students who can do some poses, but not others. A Vinyasa Yoga instructor must know how to help students adapt their poses to better suit their bodies. The Vinyasa Yoga teacher must also understand when it might be best to introduce an alternative pose, rather than forcing into the one that is not working.
7. Sequencing. Since people are physically moving in a Vinyasa class, there is less time to observe the student’s alignment in each pose. Therefore, it is critical that the teacher designs and/or guides students through a sequence and practice in a safe way. The student must be able to flow easily between poses, without injury, and the sequence must properly prepare practitioners before attempting any complex or challenging poses.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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