Yoga Teaching Techniques Helping Yoga Practice
The Practice of Yoga is teaching the mind to be steady or to be calm, without distraction, fixed on the sound and quality of breath (Fronske, 2005). Certain techniques are considered to be important yoga teaching methods. They are deep breath, self-massage, and attention to instructor’s words.
Deep breathing is important to perform during the practice of yoga (Ferretti, 2007). Deep breathing is performed by breathing deep through the nose. When teaching yoga, deep breathing helps the progress of smoothly practicing yoga postures. Weber (2007) indicated that a healthy lymphatic flow is one of the body’s fundamental defense mechanisms against infection. Deep breathing during Asana is a major stimulator of the lymphatic flow.
Brown and Gerbarg (2005) indicated that a trained instructor is required to convey the subtleties and to ensure students are correctly performing each yoga exercise. Although an instructor could describe the breathing techniques, Brown and Gerbarg (2005) suggested an instructor needs to correct and refine each student’s movement. With the proper instruction and observation, students can learn the complex skill of yoga.
Weber (2007), the director of the Subtle Yoga Teacher Training and Personal Transformation Program, indicated that self-massage is a simple technique that could improve the efficiency of asana practice. Self-massage provides a bridge between the active Asana practice and the stillness of Savasana. Savasana means a yoga Asana (posture) “Corpse Posture” or “Relaxation Posture” to refresh ones mind, body, and spirit when beginning or concluding a yoga session (Weber, 2007; Fronske, 2005).
Self-massage is usually used after Asana practice, but before Savasana (final relaxation) (Sarkar, 1992). Anandamitra (1999), the Yoga director of the Parque Ecologico Visao Futuro in Brazil, indicated the benefits of self-massage are to improve the nervous system, to help joint recover, to relax the muscles, to benefit the skin, and to improve both blood and lymphatic circulation.
When practicing yoga, people’s attention is focused on their body movement and posture. Their mind is guided and influenced by the yoga instructor’s words, such as inhale, exhale, or relax into the posture (Radha, 1996). An instructor needs to use the words carefully during a yoga session to guide students.
Radha (1996) asserted that Asana needs to be performed in a particular way to suit not only the body and mental-emotional temperament of the individual, but also the intelligence and level of understanding. It is best to learn yoga under an instructors’ direction and observation.
Yoga encompasses five principles or basic guidelines, which include: proper exercise, proper breathing, proper rest, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation (Yoga Helps to Keep Us Healthy, 2002). Each session of yoga practice needs proper instructions and observation to ensure student’s safety. Teaching yoga requires equipment, such as music, comfortable clothes, yoga mat, and props for modification such as blocks, blankets, straps, and chair (Fronske, 2005).
Fronske (2005) indicated that some yoga teaching strategies are necessary. First, stomach and bowels should be empty and one should practice two to three hours after a meal. Second, do not force the body beyond its capacity, to avoid injury. Discomfort that is felt in a posture should disappear when the pose is released. Third, posture needs to maintain as long as there is proper alignment. Fourth, one should warm up and stretch the spine before doing a maximum stretch. Warming- up is essential before any form of exercise including yoga. The advantages of warming-up are to decrease the risk of injury, to reduce stress, to increase agility, to increase flow of nutrients and blood in the stretched area, and to avoid muscle soreness (Stile, 2002). Fifth, one should use proper breathing techniques when practicing yoga. Sixth, an instructor needs to value student’s opinions and their learning process. During the process of practicing yoga, an instructor needs to praise and encourage students. An instructor also needs to demonstrate the proper postures in front of students. Last, the duration of practicing yoga needs to be concerned with the students’ capability and age. Younger children generally can only concentrate for up to 40 minutes, while older ages can practice up to 60 minutes (Fronske, 2005).
During yoga practice, an instructor needs to set up the duration of each session for students. An instructor should demonstrate examples in front of students and provide proper postures and breathing techniques. During sessions of yoga practice, an instructor needs to provide proper correction, explanation, and instructions. The final relaxation session has to be demonstrated by an instructor to guide students into relaxation (De Michelis, 2004). Students should obey all instructions by an instructor (Turner, 1982).
Schwartz (2006) and Stiles (2002) indicated some techniques when practicing yoga. Individuals should practice yoga under supervision of a well-trained instructor. The stomach and bladder should be empty before practicing yoga. The yoga area needs to be clean and quiet. Students needed to follow an instructor’s directions and breathing techniques all the time. Breathe through the nose and not through the mouth. Use yoga props to support yoga posture, such as mats, straps, and cushions.
Anandamitra, Avadhutika (1999). Yoga for Health. Kolkata: Ananda Marga Publications, 92-93.
Brown, R. P., & Gerbarg, P. L. (2005). Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Part I- Neurophysiologic Model. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(1), 189-201.
De Michelis, Elizabeth (2004). A History of Modern Yoga: Patanjali and Western Esotericism. New York: Continuum. 248-255.
Ferretti, A. (2007). Asana Built for Two. Yoga Journal, 8, 77-79.
Fronske, Hilda Ann (2005). Teaching Cues for Sport Skills for Secondary School Student. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Radha, S. (1996). Yoga Psychology and Yoga Therapy. Journal of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, 7, 6-14.
Sarkar, P. R. (1992). Carya’carya III, (4th Ed.) Kolkata: Anada Marga Publications.
Schwartz, L. (2006). A Life of Reawakening. New Life Journal: Carolina Edition, 7(7), 27.
Stiles, Mukunda (2002). Structural Yoga Therapy: Adapting to the Individual. New Delhi, India: Goodwill Publishing House.
Turner, V. W. (1982). The Ritual Process: Structure and Anit-Structure. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Yoga Helps to Keep Us Healthy. (2002). New Vegetarian & Natural Health, 24.