By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
There is much to consider when thinking about teaching Hatha Yoga classes. In general, Yoga has become increasingly popular among people looking to improve their health and sense of well-being. Many doctors and health experts have noted that Yoga has been proven to alleviate depression, back pain, arthritis, and other common issues. When these problems can be resolved naturally, people can avoid or reduce the use of pain relievers and prescription drugs. Granted, there are times when standard medicine and treatments are necessary as a frontline defense. Yet, Yoga is often recommended by doctors as an adjunct therapy.
The History of Hatha Yoga Classes
If you are looking toward teaching Hatha Yoga classes, there may be high demand among your potential students. This form of Yoga has been formalized since the 15th century and has been popular in the U.S. and European countries since the early 20th century. Just because it is popular, you may decide to learn whether Hatha Yoga could be beneficial for your students. One point to consider is that the Hatha style has evolved rapidly and continues to change with the help of the Internet. Hatha classes today don’t look like the classes I remember in the 60s. Other than the Sun or Moon Salutations, we did not have “Hatha Flows,” and we did not have 50-100 people in a class. Less than ten students commonly attended classes.
Modern Yoga has been practiced since the 1st century, and the postures and breath control that characterize modern Yoga have been used for at least millennia. Still, many reputable scholars would say the modern forms of Yoga have been around for two thousand years. There have also been archeological discoveries that lead us to believe that Yoga has been around for five thousand years or more. Most traditional forms of Yoga are of Asian origin. The original practitioners used the Sanskrit language, which is still spoken in many classes worldwide.
How Flows Moved Into Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is one of the most popular styles worldwide. However, holding poses is not as exciting as flowing for new students. Flowing sequences are one of the most challenging aspects for beginners. This is because it combines traditional postures with breathwork. Two flowing sequences that many people new to yoga find difficult are the Sun Salutation and Moon Salutation. For beginners, the Sun Salutation and Moon Salutation are complex sequences that require endurance, strength, and flexibility. Sometimes, traditional Hatha Yoga instructors resist teaching flows. However, this only feeds student curiosity to leave your class. Why not give students knowledge and serve them a mix of safe aspects as they grow?
Lesson Plans are Infinite
There is no need to hide knowledge when teaching Hatha Yoga. Sequences and lesson plans are infinite, so you can always find the perfect way to teach your class. You can also make modifications as needed based on your students’ needs and preferences. If you’re new to teaching Hatha Yoga, or if you want to improve your skills, check out our online courses or seek a mentor. At Aura Wellness Center, our graduates have the skills to design less plans. However, there are many free templates on the Internet if you don’t have time for creativity.
As a result, the word “Hatha” comes from the ancient Sanskrit language common in India and Southeast Asia. In the Sanskrit language, the word Hatha has more than one meaning and means “stubborn.” In Yoga, “stubborn” means working to avoid interference with the mind or the senses. Therefore, a more practical translation of the word Hatha is “forceful” or “willful.” That said, we are skipping the Sun and Moon translation, which is also correct, and addressing the physical aspect of Hatha, which makes it a bit different from the other traditional styles, such as Bhakti, Karma, and Jnana Yoga.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The classical form of Hatha Yoga was first introduced in the 15th century. As a historical reference point, the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” by Swami Svatmarama was compiled and written in the 15th century. Yet, we know when a text was compiled, components likely existed centuries before Swami Svatmarama released the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika.” However, the practice did not take off in the U.S. until it was imported in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda. At the time, Hatha Yoga was seen as merely a spiritual practice since its modern health benefits were still unknown. This form of Yoga was a hit in North America, and many practitioners began experimenting with ways of practicing it to improve the general public’s health. By the 1920s, popular exercises were incorporated into Hatha Yoga to provide a more physical type of Yoga that appealed to a western audience.
The 50s and 60s
Although Hatha Yoga had been fully developed, it remained known only among a small community of health enthusiasts for several decades. However, the practice soon became popular in the 1950s when it was featured extensively on “Yoga For Health,” a show by Richard Hittleman that explored the health benefits Yoga can offer to the general public. In the 60s, the Beatles further popularized Hatha Yoga and meditation after their spiritual mentor, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, encouraged the practice in the public media. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s style of meditation (Transcendental Meditation) has remained popular since that time.
Hatha Yoga Classes Today
In today’s world, Hatha Yoga is one of the most common forms of Yoga that doctors, trainers, physical therapists, and mental health professionals recommend. This type of Yoga is popular because it offers physical activity without straining the body in ways that can be risky for older patients and patients in poor health. Hatha Yoga is even popular among elderly individuals looking to stay healthy or relieve the debilitating symptoms of a chronic illness. Likewise, very healthy people can also benefit from practicing Hatha Yoga.
Since Hatha Yoga can involve a broad range of students, the practice is popular for groups and families. Teaching Hatha Yoga can take place in large rooms with dozens of people. Some instructors have even been known to teach hundreds of students simultaneously. As a result, these classes can be less expensive for students while providing them the opportunity to make new friends. The ability to socialize in classes is highly beneficial for individuals who are struggling with depression or a sense of isolation.
Why Teach Hatha Yoga?
If you are looking to work as a Yoga instructor, the reality is that putting on classes is ultimately a profession. As a result, instructors should consider the demand for particular forms of Yoga within their community and among their clients. It is also crucial to consider the mix of classes nearby Yoga studios offer. Considering these factors, you can avoid putting in a lot of effort to put on a class in an empty room with few students. You can learn whether there is sufficient demand for Hatha Yoga classes in your area by looking at basic data. Consider how far customers are driving on average to take part in your existing classes. Then, approximate how many people live in that area and the number of competing Yoga studios offering Hatha Yoga classes. In this way, you can estimate whether taking the time to organize a Hatha Yoga class is worth the effort.
Economics of Hatha Yoga for Health
Hatha Yoga is economical to reduce stress and improve overall student health. In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases, Hatha Yoga can also help keep their bodies strong and flexible. Hatha Yoga can save our students money in the long run. Since hatha yoga is such an affordable exercise form, it is a great option for students who want to improve their overall health. Teaching Hatha Yoga classes teaches students preventative health maintenance and working around pre-existing injuries. When the economics of teaching Hatha Yoga classes make sense, you should consider how the health benefits of Yoga match the needs of the people who your classes attract. Some of the main benefits of Hatha Yoga for patients include the following benefits.
Back Pain Relief
Most physical forms of Yoga can offer substantial relief from back pain. The benefits of Hatha Yoga for back pain patients mostly come from the poses and postures that the practice emphasizes. This form of Yoga is especially helpful for patients struggling with low-back pain. Although Hatha Yoga only offers short-term improvements, patients can continue to enjoy these improvements for as long as they attend their classes.
Hatha Yoga emphasizes the necessity of meditation and quiet reflection to maintain a clear mind. Unlike other forms of Yoga, meditation in Hatha Yoga usually consists of meditating or relaxing while lying down. Some instructors cover students with a warm blanket in a cold room to give them a further sense of comfort. Routine meditation can improve mindfulness for students struggling with trauma and major life challenges. Hatha Yoga incorporates many kinds of meditation. Of course, meditation has many benefits for our students, both physically and mentally. Through meditation, we can help our students focus and relax their minds. This can help them improve their concentration, focus in class, and overall mental health. In addition, meditation helps to reduce stress levels and anxiety. This can be especially beneficial for students struggling with adjusting to everyday life’s physical and mental challenges.
Arthritis Pain Relief
Relief from nearly all forms of arthritis can be realized by practicing Hatha Yoga regularly. However, specialized classes for arthritis patients should emphasize holding postures and avoiding flows. Doctors and physical therapists often recommend that patients rely on Hatha Yoga when they have skeletal problems, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia. Although Hatha Yoga cannot completely resolve arthritis symptoms, it can be effective alongside nutrition and medications.
Reduced Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD
There are many reasons why Hatha Yoga can help patients struggling with mental conditions feel a greater sense of fulfillment in life. The process of practicing Yoga releases hormones and neurotransmitters that can make people feel happy. Additionally, patients can benefit from interactions with instructors and the presence of other people around them in Yoga classes.
Many people believe that weight loss benefits from participating in Hatha Yoga classes. However, the science behind this claim is inconclusive. Some studies have shown that students who practice Hatha Yoga tend to have lower body mass index numbers than those who don’t. This may be because Hatha Yoga involves more cardiovascular activity than a sedentary lifestyle. It’s important to note that studies used different methods of measuring weight loss. Therefore, my theory is a change toward a healthy lifestyle makes people more aware of their daily habits.
About Over-Promising Health Claims
When people hear the word “hatha yoga,” they might think of a gentle and relaxing class. However, not all types of hatha yoga are the same. Some forms of Hatha Yoga can be extremely vigorous and challenging. This can lead people to make over-promising health claims about the practice. For example, some might claim that Hatha Yoga can cure diseases or improve your overall physical fitness. While these claims may sometimes be true for some people, they are not always accurate for everyone. To teach Hatha Yoga, it is important to be clear about what you offer your students. Make sure that the claims about the benefits of Hatha Yoga are based on scientific evidence.
Diversity in Styles
The bottom line is that Hatha Yoga can benefit many patients and health enthusiasts. There are forms of Hatha, such as Viniyoga, Sivananda, Iyengar, Kripalu, and many more. Some styles are very therapeutic, while others can be physically demanding. Unlike Hot, Power, or Vinyasa Yoga, traditional Hatha Yoga does not emphasize difficult stretches, painful stress positions, extremely heated rooms, or hard-core boot camp exercises. Consequently, therapeutic styles can be highly beneficial for patients with existing health problems or patients who do not enjoy the high temperatures or the level of exertion associated with most fitness-based Yoga styles.
Progression of Yoga Education
When teaching Hatha Yoga courses, it is crucial to be knowledgeable and experienced. At a minimum, you should take Yoga courses independently to understand other instructors’ practices. You can then develop your teaching style by using the elements you prefer in your courses while dropping elements you do not enjoy. Taking onsite or online Yoga courses also gives you the chance to observe how others are making progress. In-person courses reveal other students’ reactions, but online classes have Facebook groups or forums to meet with others. Even though tutoring is available, you can also have conversations with other students to understand better what they learned about a particular aspect of your course.
Importance of Certification
Although the law may allow you to teach Yoga sessions without obtaining formal certifications, you should still pursue formal training before beginning to offer your classes. Aura Wellness Center offers a 250-hour training course for instructors that teaches many useful aspects of Hatha Yoga and the specifics of how to teach a class. More advanced courses are available for instructors who want to offer more services to their students. Ultimately, Yoga education and safety procedures prevent accidents. We all want to keep our students safe, but your education and safety procedures will be under scrutiny if an accident happens in your class.
Graduation and Beyond
Upon finishing a course, you will receive a certification that proves your competence. If you do not have your Yoga studio, obtaining a certification is usually a minimum requirement for studios that would consider hosting your classes. Instructors with the most extensive training and experience find it easier to bring in new students. These students will be more likely to stick around when they find you highly competent as an instructor.
When you put on Hatha Yoga classes, you must ensure that you have the right equipment. Many students bring their Yoga mats, but you should still have a range of mats available for your students. Certain accessories can also help to make your classes more engaging for students, including meditation cushions, blankets, and disposable eye pillows. Having the right equipment enables more activities to be done in your classes while making you appear more professional.
Finally, you will need to consider how you will market your courses. Some instructors use Facebook or Instagram to develop a local follower base that can sign up for courses. Other instructors use online ads or SEO to attract local leads. You could also consider partnering with multiple instructors with an established student base. As long as you continue teaching Hatha Yoga classes, you will improve your abilities as an instructor and search for opportunities to attract new students. Over time, teachers tend to find aspects of Yoga that are rewarding for students to learn. The life skills you master today become a source of passion for your students tomorrow. This is the cycle of a healthy student/teacher relationship.
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