What Should a Hatha Yoga Teacher Know? – Part 1
Most of the time, prospective Yoga teachers have a very strong foundation in Yoga; but sometimes, they originally come from a related-field, such as Martial Arts, Pilates, Dance, Gymnastics, or Fitness. This is fine, but be prepared for a “learning curve” and do not expect to learn all about Yoga in one Yoga teacher training intensive course. Even if you “lock yourself up” in an ashram for months, you should realize that learning Yoga is a life-long journey and not a race.
Now, if you come from a related field – you have a lot more mental work to do than a long-time student of Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a physical form of Yoga, but being athletic is not as important as the knowledge a Yoga teacher should possess. So, what should you know in order to become a Yoga teacher? Below is a list of what a Hatha Yoga teacher should know in order to successfully teach Yoga classes.
Anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology should always be covered during a Yoga teacher training session. Yoga student safety is especially an important issue for those who will be teaching Yoga. Students are always physically different, and Hatha Yoga practice can be made to adapt to anyone – regardless of age or physical ability. Anyone who desires to teach Yoga should have a complete understanding of how the physical body works.
Asanas are the postures held during Yoga practice. Hatha Yoga teachers do not have to know hundreds of Asanas to teach a Yoga class, but they should be very familiar with 26 to 100 different Yoga postures – depending upon the style of Yoga. Yoga teachers should be able to design a lesson plan using these postures, their variations, and the many other aspects of Hatha Yoga teaching.
Yoga teachers should know how to give Asana modifications to their students. Sometimes, this could be advising a Yoga student to use a block, strap, bolster, chair, ball, blanket, or any other prop for proper alignment and safety. Other times, this might be giving a Yoga student an alternative variation of an Asana.
Yoga teachers should be familiar with contraindications for Asanas; which are cautions that can be related to a specific Yoga posture. This is very important when working with Yoga students who are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or have a specific ailment.
Yoga teachers should take the time to be familiar with each student and his or her particular health condition. This means researching health conditions that Yoga students have and staying on top of your own continuing education. After becoming familiar with an ailment; learn how you can help, but never give medical advice.
No Yoga teacher should ever put a student at risk. The body of a Yoga student cannot be forced into a position that a Yoga teacher feels is correct. Instead, the body is gently guided to its natural limits, without pain and little discomfort.
© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. To receive a Free e-Book: “Yoga in Practice,” and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html