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Friday, July 27, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training: Mindfulness


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By Faye Martins
When sitting through a lecture in yoga teacher training, one intern raised a hand and said: “I never knew there was mindfulness in yoga.”  Over the years, a few fitness yoga teachers have said the same.  In Sanskrit: smrti or smiriti means mindfulness.  When a yoga teacher asks the class to focus on the present or to be present for class that is also the state of mindfulness (awareness).  
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of yoga teacher training is that of mastering mindfulness. It can be easy to overlook all the aspects of your life that awareness improves. The process of connecting your mind with your body is really the heart of what yogic philosophy. Ancient practices of yoga training were centered on meditation, and improving the mind to body connection. The perfect yoga class will have students engaging in that same practice.
Benefits of Being More Mindful
As yoga is practiced on a daily basis, your body begins to change. You become more aware not just of your body but of your surroundings and how they affect your day to day activity. You realize all the things you may be doing to sabotage your health, and make the changes necessary to become more completely healthy. Mindful individuals are less stressed as they approach obstacles with ease and conquer them with much less effort.  Additionally, intuition is enhanced as you begin to see signs that may not be so apparent to the average person.  Developing  a higher level of awareness and intuition can save you much grief in life.
Yogic Practice
When it comes to the actual practice of mindfulness, it is important to focus on the meditative side of the spectrum. It is amazing what the mind and body can accomplish when pushed to their limits. Combining the physical and the mental in a yogic routine is basically giving us complete holistic health. For an advanced practitioner, it is possible be mindful and concentrate on multiple subjects at the same time, allowing focus on objects, emotions, sensations, and thought patterns all at once. This may not be suggested for everyone, but in this day and age who doesn’t multitask?  There are three skills to teach when it comes to mastering mindfulness. They are non-attachment, focus, and expansion. Students should focus on the movements, let go of stray thoughts, and be willing to open their minds to new levels of consciousness.  
Notes for Yoga Teachers
One point Marie Jerard made me aware of was to see the obvious in subtle actions people make.  This is a method to practice for expanding your consciousness for practical use.  Paul often says: “She is my eyes and ears.”  The truth is: Both of them have equally explained non-attachment, focus, and expansion in detail.  We have our limits when faced with non-attachment, because most of us are attached to someone or something.  Paul often explains the advantage of  non-attachment to outcome, because it gives us mental clarity to see the many possibilities and the ability to be prepared for changes regardless of the exact outcome.  
Many public and private schools are beginning to implement yoga training in the school curriculum to promote mindfulness. They’ve noticed improvement in imagination, empathy, self-awareness, and self-esteem. Studies show that practicing mindfulness led to a decrease in overall anxiety. It just goes to show it is never too early, or too late to practice yoga training and improve your overall health and well-being. Yogic methods truly changes lives and makes us better individuals and perhaps, better citizens.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.
Free Report, Newsletter, Videos, Podcasts, and e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”
If you are a Yoga Teacher, studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training: Thyroid Health


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By Shahid Mishra
During the course of a Yoga teacher training many interns discover that shoulder stand (Sarvangasana) is a good asana for thyroid health, but the reasons why might not be explained. The reason is actually quite simple: Gravity encourages good blood flow toward the neck.
The thyroid, a tiny gland weighing less than one ounce, is located just below the larynx in the front of the throat. Associated with the throat chakra, the butterfly-shaped organ produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. Thyroid disorders frequently result from exposure to environmental toxins, emotional stress, or an imbalance in hormones and nutrients. The use of Yoga as an adjunct to traditional medical care in the treatment of thyroid problems is becoming increasingly more popular.
Symptoms of disorders include irregular heartbeat, problems with sleep, fluctuations in weight, mood swings, and pain in the muscles and joints. Yoga, in general, calms the body and improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients, both of which help to reduce stress. Some exercises, however, target areas that specifically affect the condition and stimulate the closely related pituitary and pineal glands.
Exercises for Students 
• Yogic breathing techniques calm the nervous system, improve circulation, and increase lung capacity. They also lower the pulse rate and reduce levels of cortisol.
• Meditation helps to stabilize erratic moods, lower heart rate, and balance the autonomic nervous system. It also supports a healthy lifestyle and reduces inflammation caused by stress and toxins.
• Some Yoga poses directly affect the endocrine system. Inversions, such as shoulder stands and Viparita Karani, massage and increase blood flow in the neck area, and Boat and Fish Poses strengthen neck and shoulder muscles. Bridge Pose forces blood to the neck area and stimulates the thyroid gland.
Notes for Yoga Teachers
Although more research is needed to determine the effect of Yogic exercises on thyroid function, preliminary case studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that a regular practice not only keeps the thyroid healthy, but it can also be useful in managing thyroid disorders. Nevertheless, each person who suffers from a thyroid disease should continue medication after starting a Yogic exercise practice with the approval of his or her medical professional.
As with all new endeavors, our should consult a doctor before undertaking a new exercise practice. An experienced Yoga instructor can ensure optimal benefit and help students avoid injuries or activities that aggravate existing conditions. The question is not whether Yoga can help. It is, instead, a matter of knowing what to do and how to do it.
Lastly, as we have learned in Yoga teacher training sessions, inversions are often advised for thyroid problems, but may not be advised for high blood pressure.  This is one more reason why a student should consult with his or her doctor.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.
Free Report, Newsletter, Videos, Podcasts, and e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”
If you are a Yoga Teacher, studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Calming Benefits of Yoga for PTSD


how to become a yoga instructor
By Faye Martins

In a 2010 study conducted at Harvard and Brigham Young University and funded by the U. S. Department of Defense, researchers found that after only ten weeks of a regular Yoga practice, veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experienced a marked difference in their symptoms.

PTSD forces the mind to disassociate from the body, leaving a person feeling disconnected from their surroundings. Even if the event happened years ago, the mind replays it as if it were happening right now, releasing the body's reaction to stress.

Doctors add that trauma often causes people to feel terrified of physical sensations in their bodies. Often they simply do not feel safe inside of their own bodies. This will cause them to feel unsafe due to the physical sensations that certain asanas evoke in them.

Yoga's meditative nature and its attention to the present, work to break the cycle of suffering, while focusing on posture and body awareness. The body and mind become less reactive and stop pulling a person back to the past and into an uncertain future. In a sense, Yoga is the perfect treatment for PTSD.

When working with PTSD suffers, a gently flowing Vinyasa can help the person place and keep their attention on the present while moving through the poses. Yoga instructors should remember that the stress level a person is under from the PTSD can lead to moments of anxiety and judgment, so this is an ideal time to remind students that a Yoga class is not the time for judgment of one's ability. The judgment is likely due to the hyper vigilance that comes with the flashbacks of the trauma that caused the PTSD, so by teaching students a non-judgmental approach to the practice of Yoga will help with their high anxiety level.

How Yoga can Relieve PTSD Symptoms

Yoga is an ideal way to challenge the fight or flight response that powers many PTSD related reactions. The meditative aspect of Yoga allows students a safe way to explore their emotions without being controlled by them. The movement of the body helps relieve physical tension by lengthening, stretching and relaxing muscles.

Conclusion
Yoga is an effective way to treat the core arousal system of the body and promote body awareness and a focus on the present. Regular practice can help lessen or alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, including depression, anxiety, anger, and paranoia.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To learn how to become a Yoga instructor, please visit the following link.


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FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chair Yoga for Stroke Recovery


how to become a yoga instructor
By Faye Martins

A stroke by definition is when a blood clot interrupts blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die. This results in a number of impairments to movement, speech, and memory. A stroke changes the world of its victims overnight, forcing them to relearn movements and abilities that once came naturally. The effects of a stroke can vary widely, depending on where it has occurred in the brain. Patients recovering from a stroke can benefit from the gentle postures and breathing of yoga. Most standing yoga poses can easily be adapted, since stroke victims must remain in a sitting or lying position. As they gain strength and dexterity, they can stand next to or behind the chair for balance.

Benefits

Yoga is naturally a gentle form of exercise that isn't jarring on the joints. People recovering from a life-altering injury such as a stroke aren't able to perform rigorous exercises, but can still perform a number of yoga poses that will improve with time. Studies on stroke victims who practice yoga on a regular basis show improvements in coordination, strength, balance, fine motor skills, and overall dexterity. Patients should practice on a regular basis with a trained professional yoga instructor, preferably one with a focus on rehabilitation.

Adaptations

Any of the yoga poses can be adapted for sitting in a chair, leaning against a wall, or lying on the floor. The students will stain gain the benefits that will help them heal, such as increased blood flow throughout the body, increased strength and flexibility, better coordination, and improved dexterity. Students should remember to always keep the neck in line with the spine, and to keep the head above the hips. A gentle practice is best at first, until the student gains more strength and balance. Yoga instructors should always be gentle and patient with students who are recovering from a stroke.

Breathing and Meditation

How to become a yoga instructor for stroke victims requires study, practice, and compassion.  The process of healing from a stroke is mental as well as physical. Stroke victims often go through a type of grieving process over the loss of their abilities and their lives as they once knew them. This can result in anger, frustration, fear, and uncertainty. Deep belly breathing and meditation can relieve many of these issues. Teach stroke patients to breath deeply, filling up both the right and left sides of the body. Teach them to practice mindfulness by focusing on the present moment, and letting go of negative thoughts and emotions.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To find courses about how to become a yoga instructor, please visit the following link.


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FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Need for Yoga in the Education of Children


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By Faye Martins
Elementary teachers have advocated implementing programs into the curriculum that help children focus. That is why, despite some concerns about the connection of yoga to spiritual growth, yoga has become an accepted practice in physical education classrooms across the United States.

People practice yoga not just for its physical fitness value, but also because, simply put, it gives kids the time to enjoy being a child. Taking time to stretch, breathe deeply and focus not only gets the blood circulating, it also relaxes the body and stimulates the mind.

Yoga curriculum in children's education is important for one primary reason. Many children around the world, particularly those affected by attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders, have trouble concentrating in class. And since yoga actively practices focus, studies like the one performed in 2003 by researchers at California State University, Los Angeles, indicate a positive correlation between grades, behavior and yoga practice. In other words, children who practice yoga are more likely to be better behaved and to earn higher grades than their peers who do not practice yoga.

Most schools that incorporate yoga into their curriculum do so after stripping it of any religious overtones; for example, meditation time in schools becomes imagination time. Since kids generally take yoga less seriously than adults do, it turns out children can still reap the benefits of focused relaxation from a session of stretches and poses that help train the mind to concentrate.

Another reason that children need yoga is that it is a physical activity where overt competition or athletic skills are not necessary. Even young kids who do not like gym or game time can appreciate an active yoga session they can excel in.

Another added benefit of incorporating yoga into the curriculum is that teachers can utilize the warm-up and stretching poses for story or learning time. For example, an elementary teacher could incorporate a history lesson by walking the kids through stretches while describing a day in the life of a Native American tribal chief or of a young girl in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Combining physical activity with mental stimulation will keep kids engaged with the material even while they release energy and learn to slow down.

Clearly, adding yoga to children's education can help them stay on task, score higher on tests, and remember information longer. And since children need to do well in these areas to be successful in school, incorporating yoga into the curriculum is a no-brainer!

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.


FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Can Yoga Reduce Domestic Quarrels?


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By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Domestic quarrels and disagreements often stem from egocentric attitudes, where we view our opinion as more valuable than another's opinions or feelings. Quarrels can occur as a result of miscommunication, unwillingness to change, or when one partner does not listen to the needs and desires of the other. Yoga is known for improving a number of different physical ailments, from high blood pressure to insomnia, but can it affect behavior as well? When practiced on a regular basis, Yoga can indeed change the demeanor, behavior, and attitudes of a person. Over time, domestic quarrels can decrease.

Inner Peace

After practicing Yoga on a regular basis, many people feel an inner peace. When you practice Yoga, you become accustomed to stilling your mind and living in the present moment. You begin to realize that stress can be released through physical movement, positive meditation, and through a conscious effort to breathe out negative thoughts and emotions. The more you feel inner peace, the more likely you will be to stay calm and rational during misunderstandings, disagreements, and potential confrontations. The people around you might also sense your feeling of wellness and peace, causing them to back down from a potential confrontation or quarrel.

Compassion

When you feel compassionate towards others, you are able to truly understand how they are feeling in any given situation. In order to understand others, you must understand yourself. Yoga nurtures compassion by giving you the chance to find your inner peace and compassion for yourself. As a result, you can be more compassionate toward others. When domestic quarrels occur, you are more willing to try to see the issue from the other person's viewpoint, as opposed to sticking stubbornly to your own feelings and opinions.

Tolerance

Yoga also helps you develop and practice tolerance, or the ability to accept differences. Sometimes domestic quarrels result from personality differences. One partner might be neater than the other, or one partner might be more outgoing and social than the other. Yoga teaches us to accept and celebrate these differences, instead of wanting everyone to act the same as we do.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to live moment-to-moment, instead of constantly thinking ahead to what is coming, or remembering previous events and feelings. When you are mindful, you appreciate each moment as it is happening. If you practice mindfulness during a Yoga session, it becomes easier to do throughout the rest of the day. Remaining mindful during a misunderstanding will allow you to remain calm and focused on the issue at hand, instead of bringing up past feelings or emotions.  In fact, mindfulness alone will prevent confrontation.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.


FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Teaching Yoga to Prevent Back Injuries


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By Kimaya Singh

As any chiropractor will tell you, improper posture or spinal injuries can create a host of seemingly unrelated physical issues. For example, misaligned cervical vertebrae might be related to headaches and sore throats while problems in the lumbar region of the spine could also lead to tingling in the feet or to persistent knee pain. Basically, the back and neck have a lot of responsibilities; they support lifting and carrying, walking and running, turning and sitting still and any other type of physical activity a person is involved in. The majority of the population suffers from or will suffer from moderate to severe back pain, and many with weak or chronic back injuries use yoga to build strength and flexibility and improve symptom management.

Yoga for Back Pain

Yoga is one of the few strength building or fitness activities that can claim respect for the spine and all it does. In fact, rather than putting stress on it like weightlifting does or putting it at a high risk for injury like many dynamic sports do, physical forms of Yoga practice tend to stretch out weak and tight back muscles, align the spine and build core strength to improve overall back health.

Deep relaxation poses like the corpse pose or the child's pose are particularly effective in relaxing the neck, shoulders and lower back, areas of the body that many adults never experience a full release of tension in. Other poses like the cobra pose or the cat pose stretch the spine and neck and strengthen the muscles associated with these areas. This combination of tension-release and strength building can completely eliminate back pain in some people and prevent further aggravation of old injuries in others.

Teaching Yoga to Prevent Back Injuries in Classes

It is clear, however, that though yoga is an effective practice for improving spinal alignment, core strength and back pain symptoms, some yogis have experienced back injuries that are related to their yoga practice.

There are several scenarios within a yoga session where back injuries tend to occur more frequently, and instructors should be extra vigilant during these occasions to ensure their students come away injury-free.

1. Students are at risk for injury when practicing poses they have not mastered yet. Yoga teachers should keep an eye on pose technique and provide corrective feedback as often as needed.

2. Injuries tend to occur when students are distracted or unfocused, and any student whose mind looks like it is wandering should be guided back into the concentration required, if possible.

3. Back bends and inversion poses can place strain on the spine, so movements within poses should be slow, fluid and as correct as possible. Students with back problems may need to modify these poses or avoid certain advanced ones, like headstand, completely.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Restorative Yoga for Cancer Patients


By Faye Martins

Recently, a friend passed a brochure to me from the oncology building at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.  To see Restorative Yoga on the schedule for women going through chemotherapy made so much sense.  As Yoga instructors, we may often feel like we’re speaking to a wall, when addressing the medical community, but real progress is happening - right now.

Restorative Yoga, with its gentle stretches and assorted props, looks deceptively simple; studies, however, show that it evokes powerful results. Easing the physical and mental bodies into what seems almost like a moving meditation, the practice induces a deep state of relaxation and renewal. While restorative poses are often part of the cool down in rigorous Yoga routines, they are particularly appropriate for people with health problems and physical limitations.

Much of the research into the field of Restorative Yogic techniques involves cancer patients. As a complement to traditional care, restorative poses relieve stress, reduce pain, improve mood and boost immunity.

Scientific Evidence Supports Use of Restorative Yoga for Cancer Recovery

• A 2009 study at Wake Forest University found that breast and ovarian cancer patients who practiced Restorative Yoga for ten weeks were less stressed and more energetic than members of the test group who did not participate. Depression decreased by 50%, and feelings of calm increased by 12%.

• In 2005, results of nine studies completed at the University of California suggested that cancer patients who practiced Yoga had less anxiety and insomnia, fewer cancer-related complaints and an increase in feelings of general well-being.

• In 2007 and 2008, Canadian researchers at Queens University examined the effect of Yoga on the psychological health of cancer patients. Although modest positive results were noted over the course of ten studies, scientists indicated the need for further tests to determine which interventions were most effective and which patients might receive the greatest benefits.

• In 2009, Harvard University released findings favoring the use of Yoga for pediatric cancer patients and recommending additional research into the field.

• In 2006, information released by the Research Council for Complementary Medicine in London endorsed the use of mindfulness-based interventions in the treatment of cancer patients and recommended further exploration of the topic.

• At Stanford University Cancer Center, Yoga teachers say that Restorative Yoga reduces fatigue, restores calm and aids in the recovery process. They also recommend the practice for caregivers.

Although most studies have been small and limited in scope, the general consensus suggests that Restorative Yoga enhances the lives of cancer patients and warrants additional research. As its value has become more evident, so will its role in complementary health care.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.


FREE Yoga Report. FREE Yoga Newsletter. FREE Yoga Videos. Free Podcasts. Bonus: Free Yoga e-Book, “Yoga in Practice.”

FREE CONTENT: If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga studio, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!