Training to become a yoga instructor consists of many different aspects, such as learning about proper diet, asanas, relaxation and meditation, enlightenment, pranayama and others. Each is equally important in order to become a well-qualified yoga instructor. A good training program will not omit these aspects from their curriculum.

Asanas Aspect
Asanas are basic positions used in yoga. They are relatively easy to perform. They are used by beginner yoga students, but must be taught properly in order to avoid injury. Asanas can be seated positions, standing positions, balance positions, among others. Asanas are used to open energy channels through the body in order to purify the body and strengthen it. Performing asanas should be comfortable, firm, and relaxed. You receive a good stretching through asanas positions, but avoid straining your muscles.
Relaxation and Meditation Aspect
Yoga is equally used to strengthen your body as well as help you find inner peace and spirituality. For this
reason, learning to teach proper relaxation and meditation techniques is essential in training to be a yoga instructor. The goal of meditation is to bring your mind to a central focus and keep it there in order to block out any irrelevant thoughts. If the mind starts to wander, you must bring it back to that center focus.

Pranayama Aspect
Pranayama, simply put, is the act of being able to control your breathing. Pranayama was developed by yogis long ago. Their breathing techniques have been carried through the ages and are still used today. Pranayama is used to clear and cleanse one’s mind in preparation for meditation. It is also used to prepare for asanas in order to gain the most benefit from the postures.

Enlightenment Aspectscreen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-27-58-pm
Enlightenment is coming to the realization of yourself or being conscious of your being. It is becoming aware of your existence. This is done through awakening the psychic force within you that is called kundalini. It is believed that by eating properly,
keeping your body clean and staying fit, you bring yourself into better unity with your higher being.

Chakras Aspect
Chakras are energy centers within your body, as they pertain to yoga. The spine and human energy fields contain charkas, and when taught how to release them properly, bring peace even when facing the challenges of life. This in turn helps individuals’ live purposeful and fulfilling lives.

Bandhas Aspect
Bandhas are muscle locks. These locks are used to direct the flow of prana in the body to release spiritual energy. They work by forcing prana to flow up the spine, rather than release it in the lower body. A person training to be a yoga instructor must learn how to teach bandha techniques properly to students, otherwise improper technique may cause injury.

Mudras Aspect

Mudras are positions, usually of the hands, that lock and guide energy flow to the brain. They also send reflexes to the brain. The key to proper mudra technique is to apply enough pressure to feel energy through the psychic channels, but not cause the fingernails to turn white. There are 10 basic mudras that a yoga instructor in training must become very knowledgeable about in order to teach
the techniques to students.

Yamas and Niyamas Aspect
Yamas and Niyamas are a set of ten guidelines that help you live a happy and healthy life. They are not designed to be your conscious, but let you discover your own conscious and awareness.
Yamas are guidelines on how we should react to the outer world and those around us.
They consist of: *Ahimsa
*Asteya *Brahmacharya * Aparigraha
Niyamas are how we react to our inner world. They consist of:

The Ethical Guidelines
The typical 200-hour Yoga instructor certification course contains ten hours of ethics discussions, but how many adults really need to hear it? Apparently, anyone who is in a position of authority must be reminded of guidelines for proper conduct.
In any academic atmosphere, the student / teacher relationship must be reinforced with courtesy, respect, and dignity. This behaviour should be mutual, but Yoga teachers should clearly understand that the integrity of a student is not to be compromised, at any time, in the relationship.
With this said, all Yoga teachers are expected to be living examples of a healthy lifestyle. Yogic philosophy guides students toward a happy, healthy, tranquil, and wholesome lifestyle. This can only happen if an intern is mentally prepared during the Yoga certification process.
Just because ethics violations occur in other fields, it is not a sufficient reason to “let your guard down.” During the course of your teaching experience, you may experience the temptation to compromise the student / teacher relationship. If this is the case, you must refrain from teaching that particular student, or give up the teaching position.
If you are married, you should know better. If you are single and have romantic feelings for a student, he or she should study with another teacher. At that point, there is nothing wrong with romantic feelings, if you are both consenting adults.

The reason for all of the precautions is simple. Yoga teachers are not to abuse their authority within the classroom or outside of it. Yoga teachers, who break ethical guidelines, risk permanent dismissal, with no chance of re-instatement, depending upon the severity of the infraction.
Therefore, be certain to touch students for Asana assistance and education, only. Any self-respecting organization should have ethical guidelines, so there is no excuse for teachers who know better and violate them.
In regard to discrimination and intolerance: This goes against the very foundation of Yogic principles. There is no excuse for discrimination of gender, age, race, religion, color, nationality, disability, or sexual preference.
In regard to vices: Moderate behavior is expected of Yoga teachers. If you are a living example of a healthy lifestyle, moderation in all forms of behavior, is an expected part of your teaching practice. In fact, when a person is abusing himself or herself – counseling
and rehabilitation should be a priority. Any organization, involved in the certification of Yoga instructors, should never condone addictions, or self- abuse, which are counter-productive to the path of holistic health.
Your Personal Commitment to Physical Health
If you teach any form of Yoga, you are expected to be a living example of good health. This can be easy for some and a daunting task for others. Any one of us could suffer from any one of the multitudes of ailments or diseases, while living a healthy lifestyle.
When students see you for the first time, they make initial judgments. Whether it is right or wrong, people make judgments. Bearing this in mind, Yoga teachers should be eating correctly, cross training, getting a good night’s sleep, and abstaining from bad health habits.
Body weight is difficult to control; especially if you have reached middle age. As a result, your diet and physical activities should be regulated according to your present weight. Walking, jogging, or swimming, should be part of your daily routine.

How much cross training is necessary? This depends on your present body weight, your blood pressure, and the condition of your heart. Some studies recommend walking 10,000 steps per day. You could log this in by using a pedometer. It has also been discovered that moderate intensity exercises, such as: Swimming, biking, walking briskly, or dancing, are also of great benefit to our overall physical health.
The most important thing is to take part in physical activities, which you find stimulating. In good weather, a brisk walk outside is a wise habit. Granted, there are machines, which are designed for moderate intensity exercise. The elliptical trainer is a good example of such a machine.
Eating correctly, and moderately, should be no mystery to any of us. The Sattvic, or Yogic Diet, has plenty of solutions for weight control. One thing to consider is that raw vegetables, fruits, and water, are of extreme value to your physical health.
Finding the Guru within
Every Yoga instructor certification course is run a little different from the other. How many certification programs teach interns about finding the teacher within each of us? Many do, but some do not. In fact, some Yoga teacher certification programs do teach, “Guru worship.”
The principles of Guru worship do not blend well with Christian, Jewish, or Muslem cultures. Within these religions, and the societies they influence,
worshipping another human is forbidden. This is why the Guru is not revered to such a high status outside of India.

Swami Mukerji once stated, “You grow by absorption and assimilation. In order to quicken your progress, you need abstract, as well as concrete ideals. The secret of all rapid and startling spiritual development is man- worship. By man-worship, I mean devotion to, reverence, intense and all-absorbing passion, for the perfect individual man of realization – a Mahapurusha.
Christ, Buddha, and Vivekananda, were all such-type men. You must constantly, and thoughtfully, meditate upon the lives and writings of saints and heroes. The formative influence and valuable powers of study and meditation, upon lofty ideas and ideals, are incalculable.”
Please do not want to take Swami Mukerji’s words out of context, but people have historically been cynical. In societies, with different cultural backgrounds, from India, the Guru is a teacher, but not to be worshipped.
In another statement: “My worship for my master is the worship of a dog. I do not seek to understand his nature. It ever startles with its newness and profound depth’. So spoke Vivekananda of Ram Krishna.” This was also written by Swami Mukerji. Similar words have been written or spoken, by Yogis, for thousands of years. So, this has been traditional thought with regard to devotion to one’s Guru.
However, this level of trust and devotion toward another human being is rare. In the 20th century, more than one “man of peace” was assassinated. As of this writing, Benazir Bhutto was also assassinated, and it seems she was slain for being a “woman of peace.” Therefore, mistrust is an inherent human quality, which brings about emotional turmoil, violence, and much worse.
When Yogic philosophy grew to become globally known, there were some anticipated modifications. Yoga is, and always will be, a work in progress. Yogic philosophy does not resist change, or stand fixed and inflexible. With that said, there are many positive changes happening now and in the near future.

To teach a Yoga instructor about the Guru within is healthy. This is a form of union, awareness, and self- realization. Yoga teachers must be trained and encouraged to think for themselves.
Reminders to Students
When we teach a Yoga class, there are many things to remind our students. We want to be sure that everyone, attending our Yoga class, receives the best possible experience. Let’s look at a short list of topics that will help your students on their journey of self- discovery.
“Being present for practice,” and “living in the moment,” seem like worn out slogans, at times, but students need to be reminded; without the mind and body connection, there is no presence in their practice. Therefore, teachers need to remember that
Pranayama techniques are a very important ingredient in creating a connection between mind and body, which results in presence.
Non-judgment of oneself, and others, helps students create self-awareness without competition. This is a unique mindset for many people, who come into the Yoga studio from work and commuter traffic. Competition is outside the Yoga class, but it should never be allowed to exist within the walls of your studio.
Yoga students need to be reminded of this, in each class, for their mental health, emotional health, and physical safety. The result is a calm mind and an Asana practice without injury. Every student should leave our classes feeling better than when he, or she, came through the doors.
We have briefly touched on Pranayama, but students need to remember to breathe completely and deeply, throughout the session. As teachers, it is easy to forget what comes naturally. Yet, most people are rarely conscious of their breathing, unless they are reminded of it.
If you teach Asanas in your classes, stu- dents need to be aware of their “comfort zone” and their “edge.” The comfort zone is self-explanatory, but we know it as a range of motion without pain. The edge is the range, where we are at our physical limit, but we are still not in pain. The saying: “Work smart, not hard,” applies to the edge of the movement. Student safety is priority number one, in all Yoga classes.
At the same time, your students should be reminded that the Yogic path is full of discoveries and treasures, which will help them with their inner challenges. They learn from us, but they also learn from within. Self-discovery is a rewarding part of Yoga practice. Therefore, they should be encouraged to develop a safe practice at home, and to take Yoga with them, wherever they go. As any Yoga teacher already knows: Our practice does not end, when we roll up our Yoga mats.

Paul Jerard 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. YL

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