Asana as the Foundation of Higher Living
We all know that we feel better after stretching during an asana class. Asanas have the wonderful ability to sooth tensions, release trapped energy, and improve our sense of well-being. Proper asana practice can be used for more than health and fitness, however; it can become the basis of psychological and spiritual growth. As teachers, once we have taught the basics of asana, we can instruct our students to use the energy and well-being generated by their practice to power their self-development.
We use breath and mental muscle to lift asana to a higher level. We use the breath to enhance prana and vitality. We engage the mind to prevent distraction and to cultivate a positive creative process. We create the context for this by encouraging an attitude of self-acceptance. The student should accept where he or she is, in life and in yoga practice. Authentic and meaningful progress cannot be made without self-acceptance.
To lift asana practice to a higher level, instruct your students to direct their awareness to the breath. Give instructions that challenge students to focus on their level of self-awareness, such as, "What do you feel? Use your breath to relax more, to tune into your inner strength, to create positive change." Encourage them to recognize the positive and powerful inner changes they can create through this practice. This will keep their minds as well as their bodies engaged.
Engage the Mind
It is not physical tension and general body stiffness that block success so much as it is the mental state and the attitude of the student. Therefore, when you teach asana, engage your students' minds in the present moment with something positive and uplifting. There are a number of instructions we can give to guide the student into this positive yoga experience.
The First Step: Reflection
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