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3 Yoga Teachers Share Ways to Deepen Your Practice

Connect and learn through moving meditations, Sanskrit, and the power of pause.

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The Power of Pause: Create Calm for Your Students

When I first started teaching yoga, I wanted to live up to the poetic prowess of my own teachers, who guided expertly themed, philosophically rich asana practices. So, from the first breath through Savasana (Corpse Pose), I talked. I felt like I needed to keep saying something to be of value. Sure, my sequences were vibrant, but I was perpetuating an always-doing, always-on ethos that was depleting me—and my students.

As a teacher, your pace, tone, and internal state matter. According to the psychological principle of co-regulation, we adapt to the state of others’ nervous systems. In a class, this means that your students respond to you. Talking too quickly? Stringing one cue after another? Not breathing deeply? This can inadvertently prevent your students from settling. Over-teaching can also perpetuate an addiction to external stimulation.

One of my mentors offered me wisdom that I now share with my trainees: Less is more. Pause after every cue. Let it land. Breathe. Observe how students respond, then offer the next cue based on what you see and feel. Your teaching gets more powerful and attuned with less effort. The same advice applies to teaching meditation: Offer companionable silence.

Finally, always breathe with your students. Gently lengthen your exhalation to create calm, and expand your reassuring presence with your inhalation. Not only will you take pressure off yourself, but you’ll also show (not just tell) your students how to embrace moments of stillness and quiet in their lives.

Lisa Sanfilippo, yoga therapist, psychotherapist, and author of Sleep Recovery. Join her in Restore Your Sleep, our on-demand virtual summit to reclaim rest.

What Are Moving Meditations?

Moving meditations can take many forms, but walking slowly and consciously is a friendly entry point. Destination, distance, and pace are all incidental—each step is your focal point. Relax your arms at your sides and move freely, coordinating your breath with your steps. Choose a setting you love such as the beach, a favorite park, or a beautiful meadow. The meditation is your complete involvement in the action of walking.

Mara Carrico, author of Yoga Journal’s Yoga Basics and Fitness Yoga: A Guide for Fitness Professionals from the American Council on Exercise

See also: Why Hiking Is a Form of Meditation

Learn Sanskrit: Brahma Nadi

BRUH-ma NAH-dee

The central energetic channel inside each being, connecting human experience to universal consciousness. Brahma is known as “the Absolute” or “Creator.” Nadi means “channel” or “conduit.” Many consider Brahma Nadi and Sushumna Nadi (the central channel of the three principle nadis) the same, much as we might use the words “spine” and “vertebral column” interchangeably. In fact, this nadi corresponds with the spine in the physical body, and some believe that this is where the major chakras are located.

—Rina Deshpande, E-RYT 500 yoga and mindfulness researcher, writer, and teacher

Yoga Journal Member Exclusive: Rina explains how she uses ancient yoga philosophy in everyday life—and how you can do the same.