Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hatha Yoga for Personal Growth and Empowerment

By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

In Yoga, many students consult their teacher, Guru, or Swami for general advice. These consultations are not always related to Yoga. For the student, the problem is finding reliable advice. He or she listens to the teacher for knowledge and helpful advice. Where can you find concrete advice?
Advice, in and of itself, is a form of connecting personal opinions, personal belief systems, and personal values into a recommendation. Therefore, if you obtain the advice of another, it is his or her personal opinion.
In some ways, each of us would like to resign decision- making to some one else. We want someone, who has all the answers to the riddles of the universe, but we want to have control over our lives. This creates an internal conflict, as most of us want to establish our independence.

Why do we seek the advice of a Yoga teacher, Guru, or Swami? A Guru is a person who is regarded as having great wisdom or knowledge, and uses it to guide others. A Swami is one who knows and is master of herself/himself. In general, these are usually, but not always, Hindu titles of deep respect.

If we think in terms of personal growth, and empowerment, how does one become the knower of herself/himself? To become the master of oneself requires daily regimentation. What you eat, what you read, your daily physical exercise, the time you spend meditating, and much more, are strictly controlled by you. This type of lifestyle requires absolute self-discipline.

Yet, let’s be honest – how many people will ever be able to control themselves at all times? The answer is: Very few. All is not lost if we change, what we can, gradually. To sustain a lifestyle change, requires some planning and to learn to forgive oneself for making mistakes.

Therefore, if you plan to make a big change, start with a few smaller changes, which lead to your eventual goal. For many students of Yoga, they do not see a big change unless they look back in time. The reason is: They started practicing Yoga, adopted healthy habits, and eventually realized the rewards of small steps forward.

To suddenly change everything, all at once, is a shock to your entire being. This is like eating meat and refined “junk food” all your life; then suddenly eating raw vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruit. The usual result of sudden changes is that we change back to what we were before. To make permanent changes, we must take a moderate and gradual approach.

© Copyright 2009 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Yoga Therapy For Chronic Back Pain - The First Step Toward Relief

By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
When considering Yoga therapy for chronic back pain, you should have the endorsement of your physician or medical specialist. Reducing the back pain in your life can be a team effort. It is important to realize that many forms of therapy work well in harmony with medicine and each other.

In the case of Yoga therapy for back pain, one should feel a reduction in pain, but this does not mean you should discard your prescriptions, or the advice of your doctors. Most people, who constantly suffer from back pain, try medical or chiropractic solutions, prescriptions, and a variety of physical or alternative therapies.

After trying a variety of solutions, most people tend to continue with anything that helps them manage, or eliminate, pain. With that said, Yoga therapy sessions, or Yoga classes, are often part of a larger solution for pain management; and in some cases, the complete elimination of back pain.

Does this mean that every Yoga teacher has solutions for backaches and serious back pain? No, because there are a variety of Yoga styles, and many of them address mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Mental, emotional, and spiritual health are important in any healing process, but you want to be sure treatment of the physical body is included in your Yoga therapy.

A smaller, but very popular, group of Yoga styles are off shoots of Hatha Yoga (union by physical mastery). Does this mean that Hatha Yoga is purely physical in nature? No, because depending on the teacher and the sub-style, Hatha also covers mental, emotional, and spiritual health, in various degrees. The variation among Hatha Yoga's sub-styles covers a wide spectrum of knowledge and approaches toward health.

From the Hatha style, modern Yoga therapy has sprung. Among the therapeutic Yoga systems are: Viniyoga, Iyengar Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and other forms of Yoga therapy. This short list is where a person in chronic pain should begin to seek pain management solutions.

This will also require an extensive search for the right teacher, school, or Yoga therapist. The right teacher, or therapist, is knowledgeable, competent, gentle, understanding, and has time for you. You can easily make an assessment in one consultation, private session, or over the phone.
Generally speaking, Yoga schools do not have group therapy sessions for the same ailment.
There may be a specialized workshop for back pain, but these are rare. Therefore, it would be wise to schedule a private Yoga session with the most qualified teacher or therapist you can find.

© Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga.
He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at:
Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA.

He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: