Saturday, May 06, 2017

What Could Go Wrong During a Physical Assist in a Yoga Class?

during a physical assist
By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

Offering hands-on assists in a yoga class can be an incredible gift. Through the power of touch, you can connect with students and help them connect with themselves. While it is important to focus on the positive aspects of providing touch, understanding where an assist can go wrong is also critical.


Physical contact, regardless of the positive intentions of the instructor, can be misconstrued by students. If a student has experienced trauma, then touch may be a trigger. While advanced training targeted toward helping victims of trauma is available, all instructors can and should be trauma-informed.

Creepy Hands

When you offer an adjustment, use your palms rather than your fingertips. Practice assists on someone who is willing to give you feedback. They can tell you if you are using the appropriate amount of pressure. A light touch may seem kind, but it can be misinterpreted by your students.

Be mindful of where you place your hands and how you position your body in relation to your student. If someone walked into your class, would they be alarmed at your physical position?


In a society where most of us are corrected on our performance, an assist can feel like a form of criticism. Some students may think that your constant and well-intentioned corrections are signaling that they are not strong yoga practitioners. If a student hasn’t internalized the importance of being kind to themselves, they may become frustrated during assists. With those things in mind, you will need to choose your adjustments and moderate their frequency until you have built a strong rapport with the student.

Transferring Energy

A teacher can convey so much through contact. A sense of balance and calm pervades a space in which an instructor is fully grounded and focused. Teachers are human beings, and it is important to know that we all have days when we feel off-kilter. Maybe you are getting over an illness, or your significant other broke up with you, or a loved one has just been hospitalized. Maybe this is your fifteenth yoga class this week, and you are feeling exhausted. Be mindful of your own state when helping others.

While the slings and arrows of life don’t prohibit you from teaching, you may want to consider how you assist on stressful days. If you are jittery or insecure, your students will notice. If you are distracted by something going on outside of the studio, or you generally don’t like to give physical adjustments, this will come through during the assist. Our goal should always be to support our students’ safety and well-being. Avoid transferring your negative energy to students.


The potential for injury is inherent in any physical practice, and adjustments that are improperly executed can exacerbate the risks. We offer hands-on adjustments because we want to deepen students’ practices, but if we are not cautious, we can do more harm than good. An instructor should never force a student into a shape. 

Understanding the anatomy of postures by using resources like those produced by Leslie Kaminoff or Ray Long can teach you the musculoskeletal underpinnings of the asanas. Anatomical knowledge offers insight into how the adjustment will affect the target area and surrounding muscle groups. Paying attention to your students’ breath and supporting communication during an assist can also prevent injury.

Despite the number of ways that physical assists can go awry, the benefits outweigh the risks. Stay cognizant of the potential pitfalls, be present with your students, and commit to doing some homework in order to mitigate the potential hazards of physical assists.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Meditation for a Relaxed Lifestyle

meditation for a relaxed lifestyle
By Sangeetha Saran, CYT 500

Busy schedules and work and family responsibilities often leave a person stressed out and exhausted. But it doesn't have to be that way if you know how to handle stress with meditation. This ancient practice has been used for many years to calm the mind and body. If it is used on a daily basis, it allows a person to process all that they are going through in a healthy and positive way.

Learning This Ancient Skill

Each person meditates a little differently, but there are some basic principles for practicing this art. First, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Then, close your eyes and begin focusing on your breathing instead of your thoughts. If any intrusive thoughts come through, gently push them aside, and return to focusing on your breathing. Some people find it helps to count their breaths as they do this. Or a mantra can be created in the mind, such as a word or phrase that feels peaceful. Repeat the mantra vocally as you exhale each time. Some people simply say the words "inner peace." Just be sure to keep the phrase as positive as possible.

How This Art Affects One's Life

Overtime, meditation changes the way that a person thinks. It allows them to train their mind to let go of negative thinking and intrusive thoughts that once kept them awake at night. In other words, it teaches them how to practice mindfulness and when one knows how to constantly monitor their thought processes to allow only positive thoughts in, this keeps them calm, relaxed, and focused. Tasks that once seemed overwhelming can be done with ease. Depression and anxiety are also reduced.

One More Item on the List

At first, people who are already busy might feel like meditation is just another thing that they have to do because initially it will take more concentration to focus on breathing and calming the mind. But if a person sticks with it, and does it every day at the same time, the time that it takes to go into a meditative state will speed up.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Volume 28, Issue 4pp 369–384

Volume 33, Issue 1pp 11–21

Evidence-based adjunctive treatments

Author:William T O'DonohueNicholas A Cummings
Publisher:London ; Boston : Academic Press, 2008.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Teaching Yoga: Thinking Like a Beginner

By Sangeetha Saran

Any teacher comes to a place in our practice where we sometimes forget what it was to be a beginner. The fear, excitement, and anticipation - It was all new, and maybe we weren't sure it was even going to stick. Maybe we experimented for a while, and came back later. The truth is, it doesn't really matter how it happened. We didn't know that we were about to embark on a journey that would forever change us to our cores. We know now that yoga is not simply a physical practice. It's physical, emotional, and spiritual; Yoga is holistic and it can touch so many areas of one's life. Yoga is a lifestyle choice.

Unless we take the time to actively reflect on how that felt, how it felt to be clueless, it can become frustrating to instruct new yoga students who are still figuring it out. I'm sure everyone has had that one student, but really, whom has everything figured out? Don't forget where you started, be gentle, and use your passionate peacefulness to inspire others. Don't forget about why you began this practice, and no, I'm not talking about when your best friend dragged you in to her yoga class. Why did you stay? Why did you come back? What motivated you to make a change?

Change is hard. Change is scary. Changing your whole lifestyle is harder and scarier. Be gentle with new students who are just beginning. They may need a "first" yoga class six times over. You never know how hard it was for someone to begin his or her first session. It may have taken much more courage than you can see. Gentle inspiration will always go farther than irritated intimidation.

Get in the practice of beginning every session in that mindset. Others can always feel your mood and energy in the room. Do you emanate peace, serenity, and inspiration? Or can the others around you sense that you've forgotten why you're here?

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." ~ By Wendy Mass 

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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