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  • Forward and Backward Bends
    of what it does take Question 3 Should we first do a backward bend then a forward bending counterpose or vice versa In his book Ananda Yoga for Higher Awareness Swami Kriyananda gives the rule of thumb that one should do a forward bend first followed by a backward bend Here is the exact quote Forward stretching poses should always be followed by others that stretch backward It would seem at least from our experience that the forward stretching poses open the nerve channels in the spine but that the backward stretching ones help to pour energy through those opened channels In The Art and Science of Raja Yoga however Swami Kriyananda merely said Follow a bend in one direction with a bend in the opposite direction Not quite so specific So I asked him for a clarification Here is his reply Normally follow a forward bend with a backward bend In cases however where it seems appropriate the opposite sequence is fine Nice to have room for creativity isn t it It may seem natural to do a backward bend first because those tend to cry out for physically speaking counterposes more than do most forward bends For example after an intense backward bend like Ustrasana the body needs a forward bend an easy one like Balasana can feel just right You may even want to follow that with sasamgasana as well not for back relief but because Sasamgasana helps us take charge of all the energy that s been awakened by Ustrasana then released by Balasana All that is fine but what Swami is saying is that generally in Ananda Yoga we start the whole sequence with a forward bend Adho Mukha Shvanasana before Ustrasana might be a good choice in this case There are additional reasons for starting with a forward bend We all know how Matsyasana a backward bend is a perfect follow up for Halasana a forward bend It s not just for physical reasons although the physical release of the cervical spine is certainly welcome Rather it s that Halasana can concentrate a lot of energy in the cervical center fifth chakra Matsyasana enables us to open up that area and get that energy moving and expanding Here s another example Swami teaches that Padahastasana and Standing Bbackward Bend SBB are a natural sequence First you open the spine with Padahastasana so energy will flow freely then you lift that energy up the spine with SBB Although the opposite order is by no means wrong it can feel good even if you haven t gone swayback in SBB note that SBB is a thoracic spine asana whereas Padahastasana is a lower spine sacral area asana Therefore reversing the order simply wouldn t be as effective in raising the energy because Padahastasana would be working below the area where SBB had already worked This is a specific example of the general principle that forward bends tend to work with the first and second chakras Backward

    Original URL path: http://www.expandinglight.org/free/yoga-teacher/articles/gyandev/forward-backward-bends.php (2016-02-01)
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  • Keepin’ It Simple
    more flow to our teaching and we can relax into it Nothing mysterious about this Making the Poses Your Own The second key is to experience for yourself what makes each pose tick Underneath all the mechanics and alignment what is really going on in the pose How does the energy move What is its effect on the mind In short what is the overall feeling of the pose Once we tune in to that essential feeling the remaining aspects of the pose follow fairly easily More on that in a moment Why Because we see how the physical pose is at a deeper level simply an outward expression of the feeling The more we get into the feeling the more the physical pose unfolds from inside us Everything ties together in one neat package alignment energy states of mind everything And that package is called feeling That s why I often characterize Ananda Yoga as a heart based practice the heart chakra is our primary instrument of feeling I m speaking not of emotional feeling but of chitta the intuitive foundation of our consciousness to which Patanjali refers in his second sutra and many others as well Yogas chitta vritti nirodh Yoga is the neutralization of the vortices of feeling Only when we touch that feeling place inside us during an asana are we really doing the pose Everything else alignment breath etc is just preparation How can we experience that essence Unless we can meditate very deeply on the asana I think there s only one way to tune in to that essence through our own experience of the pose It won t come through thinking reading or hearing about the pose or even from doing it if our doing is just on a physical level It has to come from deep inside us We have to make the pose our own I ve told many of you about the worst class I ever taught It was a great lesson for me not unfortunately for the students I gave what I hoped was a solid exposition on an interesting topic in fact the students had chosen the topic I figured I would be safe in basing my talk on the ideas Swami Kriyananda who is without doubt an expert on the subject However I made the mistake of doing this without having dived deep into the subject myself I knew the teaching but I hadn t really experienced it It was dismal I remember thinking Gee the students don t seem very engaged Come to think of it even I don t find this class interesting I d prepared diligently organized my notes figured out exactly what I was going to say and when I was going to say it but I d left out one vital step I hadn t made it my own I hadn t lived it Had I done so I could have said the very same words with a much different result the

    Original URL path: http://www.expandinglight.org/free/yoga-teacher/articles/general/keepin-it-simple.php (2016-02-01)
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  • Living in the Spine
    center today or She s a very centered person Less understood however are the deeper yogic principles behind such expressions One way to convey the point is through balance poses which take people beyond being merely aware of the spine to being centered in the spine Balance begins with making the spine your physical center of gravity without that the pose is one big wobble for as long as it lasts and the breath and mind can get agitated But with centeredness in the spine the breath and mind stay calm the pose lasts longer and it s more enjoyable This goes far beyond the physical center of gravity It s about where your concentration is where the center of your reality is That s the real key to the asanas and to life To demonstrate this have your students concentrate on the lifted knee in Vrikasana making it the center of their reality Guess what It becomes harder to balance Or ask them to center their reality in their gazing point on the floor Again wobble city Then have them do the pose while concentrating on the spine feeling it as the center of their reality It s an entirely different experience they re still gazing at the spot on the floor but their concentration is on where they re gazing from rather than what they re gazing at Concentrating anywhere else makes balance more difficult plus the overall experience less pleasant Again translate this principle into non balance poses In Standing Backward Bend ask students to concentrate on whatever they see they might not wobble as they would in a balance pose but the asana experience will certainly be um unremarkable Then have them do the pose while focusing in the spine it s a huge difference Similarly contrast doing When students directly experience how their physical posture affects their state of mind it is much more meaningful and much more motivating Jathara Parivartanasana while concentrating on the out stretched arm versus concentrating in the spine In the former you re basically just hanging out as the body does its thing while in the latter you re at the center of what s happening in the pose helping it to happen Breathing in the Spine One excellent way to become more aware of and more centered in the spine is through learning to breathe in the spine Of course students with any knowledge of anatomy know that they don t really breathe in the physical spine but as you know they do breathe in the astral spine Focusing on and tuning into this process can be a wonderful teacher for your students even if they re relative beginners You did this often in AYTT and other classes but let me remind you of some of the main aspects Sit upright with a straight spine Visualize the spine Touch the tip of the tailbone coccyx with one forefinger and the medulla oblongata area with the other Visualize a hollow tube about as big around as your thumb connecting those two points and energy flowing up through that tube with each inhalation and down with each exhalation This is the reality whether students feel it or not visualizing will gradually help them experience it personally Next move the first finger to the spiritual eye and visualize breathing through the entire astral spine from tailbone to medulla then bending forward to the spiritual eye Relax the hands to the lap and continue the breathing and visualization Use the Full Yogic Breath pattern the upward wave of expansion in the torso on the inhalation coincides with upward movement of energy while the downward wave of relaxation on the exhalation coincides with the down ward movement of energy in the spine The physical expansion and relaxation will help students tune into the energy movements Ujjayi breathing is an option the constriction at the back of the throat slows the breath and helps draw one s attention to the spine since the back of the throat is very near the cervical spine Spinal breathing can help students focus on and center in the astral spine Try it both in neutral poses like Tadasana and in more active asanas 4 Acting from the Spine Here s the key when every action inside or outside of class originates in the spine and completes itself by returning to the spine then we re really beginning to live in the spine As Swami Kriyananda writes in The Art and Science of Raja Yoga I have found when skiing that if I deliberately center my awareness in the spine feeling all my movements to be radiating outward from that center I can ski very much better One who can remain consciously centered in his spine will always be poised ready to meet any situation that arises even as a man who is well balanced while running can turn quickly whereas one who is not will very likely fall if he turns too suddenly Let s apply this to asanas To enter a pose center yourself in the spine and you expand from that center out into the periphery of the body That is in fact exactly what happens energy moves out from the spine to your periphery in order to move the body As you hold the pose feel that in any area of the body that is active the upraised arm in Trikonasana or the straight leg in Janushirasana that activity originates in the spine Finally when exiting the pose draw all the energy back into your center into the spine Notice how even the physical feeling of release seems to move toward the spine Pausing in the ensuing neutral pose helps you to complete with withdrawal process since it won t be likely to feel completed merely by exiting the active pose The Energization Exercises provide another excellent way to feel this When we tense we send energy from the spine to activate a body part contracting

    Original URL path: http://www.expandinglight.org/free/yoga-teacher/articles/general/living-in-the-spine.php (2016-02-01)
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  • Isometric Strengthening of the Vastus Medialis | Expanding Light
    hard under the fingertips that may be difficult to achieve at first but is necessary to strive for as the VM needs to feel at least as strongly contracted as the other quadriceps muscles As you gain more control and can easily contract the VM you can practice these contractions in other positions sitting in a chair in bed before rising in the morning even while sitting at a stoplight while driving your car Gradually you should be able to consciously contract the VM during other activities such as practicing yoga or hiking See Keeping on Track with Knees for tips on anatomy prevention of injuries and rehabilitation of knees This entry was posted in Yoga Therapist Training Bookmark the permalink Comments sajni says October 28 2014 at 10 58 pm how much is the course fee for yoga therapy teacher training for 800 hours Reply Nayaswami Anandi says April 18 2015 at 3 39 pm Dear Sajni The total course fee is given on this page http expandinglight org ytx tuition costs php These costs are for tuition The total cost will be determined by your choice of accommodations we have a range of choices from bring your own tent to deluxe private rooms Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published Required fields are marked Name Email Website Comment Have posts you are interested in sent to you when they are published Help the Expanding Light better serve people About the Author Nicole DeAvilla a yoga teacher since 1984 with a background in sports medicine chiropractic psyiotherapy and teacher training She teaches Therapeutic Yoga Musculoskeletal Yoga Therapy and Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training at The Expanding Light She also teaches yoga and meditation near her home in Marin County California and leads an Ananda

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  • Prenatal Yoga: Are You Ready for the Good News? Part 2 | Expanding Light
    too far in an asana and cause an injury A woman who was already loose jointed before pregnancy must especially take precautions not to injure her joints Asanas to strengthen the hip area will be particularly good as well as certain modifications of some asanas See Hip Strengtheners on page 9 A Love Affair Interrupted Most pregnant yoga students absolutely love restorative yoga positions Oddly enough these were the ones that I had to give up The relaxation in most prenatal restorative positions would put my sacroiliac SI joint out of commission I would come out of these poses with a stabbing pain at one of the SI joints with every step that I would take Fortunately it would go back into place fairly soon on its own Though I craved practicing the restoratives I had to give them up during both of my pregnancies I have come across only one other student whose body reacted in the same way Prenatal Yoga Controversies You should be aware that there are some controversial issues in prenatal yoga And unless some substantial research is done don t count on anything anytime soon they will most likely remain controversial Inversions twists and lying supine are among them A thorough look at all of the controversies would be another article all together For now I will mention my viewpoints on a few of them As far as inversions are concerned everyone I think would agree that during the last six weeks of a pregnancy full inversions i e poses in which the pelvis is fully inverted and in some cases partial inversions should not be practiced at all At this time the baby is beginning to settle into position for birth The downward pull of gravity at this time plays an important role in properly positioning the baby for birth However if the baby is in a breech position i e the head is not down then supported inversions may actually be advised by the health care practitioner in hopes of shifting the baby into the proper position Additionally there is the obvious danger of falling out of an inversion and the potential of injury to the mother and or the baby Wall support and spotting by a teacher can help to alleviate this However some people recommend against inversions anytime during pregnancy Inversions such as Shoulderstand and Headstand were not an important part of my yoga practice at the times that I was pregnant so I did not practice them I did occasionally demonstrate them briefly in the non prenatal classes that I was teaching while I was pregnant but I never teach the classical inversions in a prenatal class However I do teach Legs Up the Wall Pose in a few different supported variations see photo page 9 During the last six weeks of pregnancy as mentioned before I do not teach inversions that fully invert the pelvis and in the last few weeks I avoid teaching even partial inversions of the

    Original URL path: http://www.expandinglight.org/blog/yoga/yoga-teacher-training/prenatal-yoga-are-you-ready-for-the-good-news-part-2/ (2016-02-01)
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  • Prenatal Yoga: Are You Ready for the Good News? Part 1 | Expanding Light
    already elevated and if she becomes overheated both she and the baby will be medically at risk Other dangers from a fast paced or vigorous class can be injury from falling balance is an issue throughout pregnancy or compression on the abdomen If you teach a hot and or fast paced challenging class you should explain to the pregnant student that there are other styles of yoga that she could try and best of all try to steer her to a prenatal yoga class if one is available in her area Situation 2 Now let s consider Situation 2 a prenatal yoga class First of all don t fall into the erroneous trap of thinking that what works for one pregnancy will work for other pregnancies Each pregnancy is unique Women themselves are often surprised about how each of their own pregnancies differs from the others sometimes dramatically Second when a class is called Prenatal Yoga it is commonly assumed that the class will focus on the very specific needs of the prenatal student Whereas in Situation 1 the yoga is being adapted or modified to accommodate a prenatal student in Situation 2 the yoga practice will be one that specifically nurtures and caters to the special needs and circumstances of prenatal students Both approaches are valid We just need to be clear about what we are offering So it makes sense that if you are going to cater to the particular needs and circumstances of a specialized group prenatal in this case then you are going to need additional training Can you train yourself on your own Well it was not that long ago that most of us in the prenatal yoga field had to do it that way Now however there are many good training programs available There are more books available as well although many of them have conflicting viewpoints A good course with an experienced instructor will help you to understand the information that is out there and can give you the best up to date information And guess what I just happen to teach one at The Expanding Light Ananda s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training is July 16 23 followed immediately by Postpartum Yoga Teacher Training July 23 26 Auxiliary Questions Now some of you may be wondering If an experienced yoga teacher has practiced yoga during her own pregnancy does that qualify her sufficiently for teaching in this specialty area The answer is quite simply no It is certainly an advantage to have done so but as mentioned earlier each pregnancy is unique and one needs to be trained for the many possible situations that may occur Well then on the other hand can someone who has not been pregnant before teach prenatal yoga With proper training definitely yes There are many great well trained prenatal instructors out there who have not been pregnant and who are teaching great classes And unfortunately there are also teachers who have been pregnant before and have little

    Original URL path: http://www.expandinglight.org/blog/yoga/yoga-teacher-training/prenatal-yoga-are-you-ready-for-the-good-news-part-1/ (2016-02-01)
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  • What is Therapeutic Yoga?
    injury or special consideration and actively working with them on ways to improve their condition through yoga But I think that even this type of yoga class should not be considered therapeutic it is simply a teacher doing her job to serve each student personally Now if I speak with a student s health care provider to learn the exact diagnosis of her condition and ascertain whether the practitioner advises moving into certain positions and avoiding others and if I ask a student a series of detailed questions in order to individualize his program in either a private session or a group class and if I create special classes for groups with special needs then I consider that what I am teaching is therapeutic yoga I am applying knowledge gained from additional courses workshops books and articles research trial and error on the job medical and research training plus my deepening intuition as I deepen my own practices of meditation and devotion Designating a class as therapeutic implies that an instructor has additional training and experience in a particular type of therapy that can be implemented through yoga practice This could be the application of musculoskelatal bones and muscles knowledge counseling training or Kriya Yoga experience to the teaching of yoga Designing classes for special groups with special needs is another way that a therapeutic class can be differentiated from a traditional yoga class Whereas some schools and individuals have focused on gaining knowledge in psychological areas and applying them to and integrating them with a yoga practice I personally chose the route of gaining musculoskeletal and sports medicine knowledge to integrate with my yoga practice and teaching For me it addressed the immediate concerns of most of my students and for myself as well Over the years working with people therapeutically on deeper psychological and spiritual levels has evolved naturally in the work that I do I try to demonstrate how a personal practice of meditation and prayer can be of great assistance The Therapeutic Yoga Program When I teach Therapeutic Yoga at The Expanding Light the first thing I want everyone to learn is how to do no harm Prevention is the best medicine in yoga too Then I like to arm the students with knowledge of anatomy physiology kinesiology alignment sports medicine injury first aid and terminology Then we cover therapeutic asanas when to use certain ones and when to avoid others Next we go a little deeper and cover the connection between the asanas physical and mental imbalances and the subtle energy of the chakras I also like to emphasize the importance of the affirmations whether you are working with students on a spiritual psychological or purely physical level I try to demonstrate how a personal practice of meditation and prayer can be of great assistance So I like to define therapeutic yoga as applying the techniques of yoga to alleviate specific problems physical mental and or spiritual coupled with a combination of knowledge specific to

    Original URL path: http://www.expandinglight.org/free/yoga-teacher/articles/yoga-therapy/therapeutic-yoga.php (2016-02-01)
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  • Assessing and Correcting Posture
    then it takes practice to get it right with all the different body shapes and sizes that you ll encounter Make small adjustments at any given time observe the results and ask your students how they feel in the new position Explain to them that they may feel different or strange and that s okay but you do not want them to feel discomfort or tension Then ask them specifically How do you feel in this new position The more feedback you get the more you will learn about what works and what does not work Getting Clarity on Natural Curves For correct posture the spine should be in its natural curves If you look closely at the curves of the spine on a skeleton you may be surprised at how small the curves actually are However when looking at an actual person the true skeletal shape is somewhat obscured by the many different types of tissue that cover it see image of the skeleton inside the outline of the body For example in standing posture the protrusion of the gluteal muscles and perhaps some fatty tissue as well tends to give the illusion that the lumbar spine has more curve than it actually does Therefore it s easy to conclude incorrectly that someone with large developed glueteals has too much curve Then too someone with nearly flat gluteals may appear to have insufficient lumbar curvature A lumbar curve can also look flatter than it is because of a lot of developed musculature in the lower back this is often the case with people who do physical labor for a living the spine can literally disappear between two high ridges of muscle Keep in mind that healthy spinal curvature is not a one size fits all proposition Once while being examined by Dr David Kessler from Ananda Village Gyandev remarked that his lumbar curve was too flat Dr Kessler s response was Are you comparing your lumbar curve with some theoretical lumbar curve that you think you re supposed to have When you are not sure if someone s clothes excess or lack of fatty tissues etc may be making their posture look not quite right to you go back to checking whether the points of alignment are in their proper places Also try to get your students to relax into good posture Being tense is not only undesirable but can make a person s posture not look right even if their bones are aligned properly Similarly the scapulae shoulderblades and the muscles around them tend to make the thoracic spine appear to have more curve than it actually does Finally the skull perched on top of and sticking out behind the cervical spine gives the appearance that the cervical spine has more curve than it actually does see image With all of this said do make sure that people keep their curves Too little curvature in any part of the spine is potentially just as destructive as too much curvature and that too will impede the flow of energy up the spine The natural curves of the human spine developed as they did to help support the body distribute our weight effectively and provide cushioning to absorb shock from walking jumping and moving in general Without the curves we lose our ability to move freely without risk of injury Common Postural Problems To make corrections in spinal curvature I ve found it helpful to be aware that different people have different learning mechanisms Some people respond best to auditory cues others to tactile touch cues still others to visual cues For the auditory person imagery often works well Feel as though there is a weight at the end of your tailbone will help to tuck the pelvis For the tactile person a light touch can be best e g lightly touch the tops of the scapulae with the tips of your fingers to indicate that they should release downward You might want a visual learner simply to watch you make the correction on yourself e g draw a protruding chin inward toward the back of the neck So I find it important to offer all three types of cues And for especially difficult corrections it sometimes takes the repetition of all three to achieve the response that you want In my experience one of the most common postural problems is having the weight too far back on the feet i e too much weight on the heels Even a small amount of misdistribution can create postural problems and tension farther up in the spine Here the lower ribs are protruding forward Compare with this photo Often related to this is the tendency to have the lower rib cage protruding forward and the upper part of the rib cage angled toward the back of the body see photo This is actually very common in experienced yoga students and teachers with otherwise good posture We spend so much time working on opening the heart area and counteracting the influence of gravity and rounded shoulders that we and our students often overcorrect the spine and rib cage in this way Always be sure before making this adjustment that the lower body alignment is in place to support the correction Sometimes this rib cage position is simply the body s reaction to the alignment below being off as in the case of someone who chronically has the pelvis shifted way forward so it s not under the shoulders anymore First get the lower body aligned then if necessary proceede with the upper body correction s To help correct this position I will sometimes exaggerate the incorrect position with my own body and place my hands on the sides of my ribs showing with my fingers that the lower rib cage is pointing forward Then when I correct my posture they can see that my fingers move to pointing straight down toward the floor I speak of bringing the rib cage over the pelvis

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