Principles of practice
The source of great Yoga teaching is personal practice. Personal practice opens the door to the teacher’s innate wisdom, allowing that wisdom to be expressed “from the heart”. Using holistic bio-mechanics applicable to all postures, students learn to bring their bodies, minds and hearts toward wholeness. Rather than adhering to a specific sequence of posture only, daily practice includes creative sequencing techniques. Some Pranayama (breath expansion) techniques and an introduction to meditation are components of daily practice. By the end of the program teachers in training will have a well-rounded personal Yoga practice that informs their teaching.
The program’s central focus is on how to lead a safe, effective and joyful yoga class. The methodology of teaching plays an integral role in leading a successful and interesting yoga class. Teachers in training learn to listen to their own voice, their own particular pattern of language, and from there begin to examine and refine communication to become as clear as possible. This approach has far-reaching effects on and off the mat. Beginning by writing and then speaking simple scripts describing the performance of everyday activities – things we take for granted like opening a door – the mechanics and the art of precise direction unfolds. By the time the teachers in training lead their own classes, they are fully aware of nuance of language and how to use it effectively to inspire and deepen the experience of yoga for their students. This skill coupled with an understanding of bio-mechanics, optimal alignment, verbal and physical adjustments and developing a class intention to enrich and add meaning to their class gives our teachers in training a diverse and colorful pallet to draw from. Ultimately, it is our own inner wisdom, humor and unique voice we seek to reveal as a teacher.
A Yoga student absorbs information in three ways – verbally, visually, or through sensation. Touch can be one of the most powerful teaching tools a teacher has. Understanding types of touch – directive, affirming or therapeutic – teachers in training develop appropriate and non-injurious skills to communicate and connect with their students.
An understanding of the structure of the body and how postures create change within that structure is key to safe instruction. Practical applied anatomy, observing types of body – organic or muscular – is a component of the anatomy training. Compressive and tensile forces and variations in skeletal structure are explored as well as muscle groups, the subtle body, and it’s energies.
History and Philosophy
When teaching this art and science of Yoga, the question “What are we actually teaching?” needs to be answered. Yoga philosophy can be interwoven into the physical practice itself to enrich the experience and give it context. The origins of Yoga and the development of its’ philosophy are fascinating subjects. Yoga philosophy ultimately seeks to answer the question “who are we?” Through lectures, presentations and discussion, a foundation of understanding is developed. Classical Yoga, Tantra Yoga and the dualistic and non-dualistic philosophies are explored. Key texts – The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are also summarized.
Ethics and lifestyle
What is ethical behavior? How does a lifestyle aligned with our highest good affect our ability to teach? Considering these questions and the approaches Yogic texts have taken, as well as how our modern world deals with these questions is the starting point for a discussion of Ethics. Teachers in training also play-act practical situations to embody an understanding of the importance of Ethics. Meditation, Chanting, Pranayama Stillness can allow our innate nature to become visible. Invoking energy through the vibration of sound can harmonize us with our environment. Students learn the role these approaches play in creating sacred space, and learn several Sanskrit invocations and their meaning.
If you can say “Extra-hot, non-fat, triple-tall no-foam half-caf Grande Capuccino”, you can pronounce posture names in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is understood to be a “revealed” language. Though it is not necessary to teach a Yoga class entirely in Sanskrit, the language itself holds a certain power and beauty. Often it is easier to teach a class a posture name in Sanskrit than try to find an appropriate English equivalent. Posture names and the basic root components of those names are studied.
Ayurveda means “The science, or knowledge of life”. Determining one’s constitution through an understanding of this ancient wisdom helps to determine the focus of one’s own Yoga practice, and how to address the needs of students who will have a variety of constitutions. The five elements that Ayurvedic “doshas” are derived from and their relation to cosmology – the order of the universe – are connected and explored.
Types of Asana practice
Every student comes to Yoga with their own personality, abilities and areas of interest. We offer components of Flow, Restorative, Yin, Chair Yoga, Structural Therapy and simple meditation. The teacher in training has a variety of tools and is able to design a class for a wide variety of students with varying physical abilities. Presently, about 8% of the adult population in North America is practicing Yoga. Another 8% have expressed a strong desire to try Yoga (Yoga Journal statistics) but have not yet attended a class.