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How to Choose a Good Yoga Teacher

When you are looking for a yoga teacher you need to understand that there are no national or international programs that certify yoga teachers and there probably never will because of the nature of the instruction of passing it down from teacher to student for thousands of years. Even though there are no strict legislative requirements set down for instructors, does not mean that there is no guidelines you should follow to find a good one. Here you will find what some believe are the minimum requirements for a competent instructor.

Must practice yoga exercise, breathing and meditation daily – You can't take a teacher seriously if they themselves do not have a sound foundation and is committed to yoga on a daily basis.

Should have regular contact with their own teacher – No good teacher can ever work effectively on their own, nor no one teacher can become so advanced that they do not need the continual guidance and support from their own teacher.

They should study the important yoga texts – Study is one of the special five observances that are part of the eight limbs of the yoga practice. A good teacher needs to have some knowledge that includes Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Bhagavad Gita. This is the minimum, ideally they should have knowledge in all world philosophies.

Ethical behavior – A good teacher is going to be well versed in the five yamas which means the five restraints that include non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, times of celibacy and non-hoarding. They also need to practice the five niyamas which means observances such as purity, contentment, tolerance, study and the first two limbs of classical yoga. When a teacher practices this type of procedure the student is protected especially during a personal experience in a meditation state. You will find that an ethical yoga instructor will conduct class in a safe, aware and responsible manner and makes sure that classes are not too large so students can receive individual attention from the instructor.

Observe a healthy vegetarian diet – Of course you don't need to be a vegetarian to practice yoga, a yoga instructor should conform to different standards than the student. They also should not smoke, drink alcohol or take any kind of drugs.

Training in basis anatomy and the effects of yoga techniques – A good yoga instructor should be trained enough to be able to vary the yoga techniques for each student according to their own personal abilities and they also should be trained well enough to advise their students when it comes to the more common medical conditions like high blood pressure, back problems and arthritis. They also should be trained well enough to notice when a student might need psychological counseling and have knowledge of the community services in the area.

Have the ability to separate yoga from religion – Remember, yoga is not a religion and it even predates Hinduism as well as many other well known religions. Yoga is a practice of techniques that are non-religious, trans-cultural practices and these practices help people develop a greater self-awareness. It doesn't require that students stick to a particular creed or belief or that they obey any prophet or god. It also is not ritualistic nor is it an occult and the texts of yoga are not scripture but guidelines on how to practice yoga safely. So, a good teacher should never allow their religious beliefs intertwine with the practice of yoga.

These are the key things that you need to look for when you are trying to find a good yoga teacher. It will take time to research all of this, but in the end it will be well worth your time and effort.


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How Yoga Can Help Your Teen

We all know that the years of being a teen can be very stressful. They are not only dealing with influx of hormones but they are also going through of ton of emotional and physical changes that can cause all of this stress. There are ways in which you can help the stress level of your teen and one of those ways is to get them into doing yoga.

Often teens are involved with a lot of different sports and this is a great way for them to get rid of all the stress of daily life, however, there might be those who simply are as physically adept as others and they don't feel confident enough to get involved in sports, this is where yoga can play a very important part.

Many parents are discovering that yoga can give their stressed out teens a type of release that they need. Yoga is something that can help teens, especially girls to appreciate the new and different changes in their bodies and to also learn self-acceptance. Yoga can also help to balance their hormonal mood swings. Bodies that are rapidly changing like a teens, need some way to find balance and yoga can help create balance of both strength and flexibility in all the major muscle groups as well.

Yoga can also help teens to focus better especially for teens who seem to worry a lot. They can learn breathing techniques to use in their daily life to help relax both their mind and body. They can use the breathing they learn in yoga to cope with the stress they face each day.

The main benefits that teens as well as preteens can reap from yoga are listed below:

Hormone balance: Breathing practiced in yoga can affect the nervous system. It can calm or create energy for the body. It is very important for preteens and teens to develop relaxation skills in order to regroup and relax. Breathing will also help control the raging emotions caused by hormonal imbalances.

Meditation: This can teach kids different relaxation techniques and help them become less distracted.

Boosts self-esteem: Since yoga is not about competing but independent exercise, each pose can be modified for each individual, this can help a child feel better about themselves when they aren't competing against someone else.

Balance: Practicing yoga can help anyone with their balance but often preteens and teens find themselves at awkward stages and yoga can help to bring balance back to their bodies.

Concentration: Teens have trouble focusing and concentrating sometimes and through the different breathing techniques and poses, they can learn how to stay more focused and concentrate better.

You teen more than likely is going through a lot of physical and emotional issues during these years and yoga could possibly be the answer that they need to help fight this stress.


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Understanding The Main Yoga Postures

In yoga you will find that there main postures that are key in performing yoga successfully. Those postures including standing, sitting, reclining (supine and prone), forward bends, side bends, back bends, twists, balancing and inverted postures.

Standing Postures
– These are postures that invigorate both the mind and body by getting rid of tension, pain and aches. On the inside, these types of postures will help to stimulate the digestion, regulate the kidneys and even help alleviate problems with constipation. They also will help with circulation and breathing by helping a person develop strong legs and flexibility of the pelvis as well as the lower back. Psychologically, these postures can help create confidence, more willpower and even strengthen ones character.

Seated Postures
– These types of postures are considered to be calming postures that will soothe a persons nerves, help with fatigue and refresh ones brain. They can also help a person to regulate their blood pressure and help a person to recover from an illness and help promote more restful sleep.

Reclining Postures
– These postures have two categories one is prone and the other is supine. With prone postures, a person will do these facing the floor with either their hands and knees or by lying on their stomach. These types of postures will help to rejuvenate as well as energize the body and they also strengthen the back and the arms. The supine postures are done lying on a persons back. Their general purpose is to help relax a person and make them feel more rested.

Forward Bends
– These types of postures mainly improve the circulation and help in digestion and have a calming affect on a persons emotions.

Back Bends
– The whole idea of these postures are to invigorate a person and to help a person to breath deeper. These postures help to open the body and mind and energize both. They often help a person be lifted from depression.

Side Bends
– These postures will mainly help to stimulate a persons main organs like the liver, stomach, spleen, kidneys and so on.

Twists
– These types of postures are to help free, energize as well as give balance to the body. The ones done sitting are the most intense of all the twists and these will help give better range of motion to the spine. They help a person become more flexible in their hips, spine and upper back and they can actually relieve backaches, stiffness in the neck as well as alleviate headaches. They also will tone the abdominal organs and this aids in digestion and the relief of constipation.

Inverted Postures
– These types of postures will reverse gravity and brings fresh blood to a persons head and heart and this can revitalize the whole body including the mind. They help to tone the organs, glandular system and stimulates the brain.

Balancing Postures
– These types of postures can help a person develop lightness, agility and even strength. They help a person develop better body control, better muscle tone as well as better concentration.

With yoga a persons body is maneuvered all all different directions and this means that every muscle in the body is stretched as well as toned. Even the internal organs benefit by being massaged, expanded, squeezed, which in turn helps to improve their function. The skeletal system benefits as well by being flexed, rotated, twisted and extended giving better mobility of joints. Overall, yoga affects the entire body inside and out.


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How To Select Your Ideal Yoga Retreat

Whether you are a beginner or someone more advanced in practicing yoga, if you are considering going on a yoga retreat for the first time, you may not know exactly how to plan for what. In order to get the most out of your time and money, here are some things you need to consider when planning for a yoga retreat.

Location of a yoga retreat is key to having a wonderful time. Generally when going on a yoga retreat it is also going to be a vacation as well. So when looking for the right location consider the following:

If you happen to love to explore culture, art and even monuments you might want to consider places like Italy, France, Spain, countries with a great cultural histories that span centuries. If you enjoy really warm beaches you might want to consider Hawaii or Mexico as a couple of examples. If you prefer something that is more rustic like a camping atmosphere you might want to consider states like Montana, Utah, California, Oregon and so on.

Make sure that the teacher guiding the retreat is someone that exhibits the style that you like. So it's important to do your research. Find out how many years they've been guiding retreats and teaching yoga. Also make sure that the style of yoga that is being taught is the style and the level at which you are currently doing.

You should also ask yourself what you want out of the experience. Do you want to reset your minds focus, challenge yourself, get away to heal a broken heart or do you perhaps just want to make new friends in a new environment. So it is important that you find out what the retreats main theme or focus is before booking it.

When it comes to pricing, a good retreat's price is going to include everything except of course your traveling expense to get there. This way you won't have to worry about spending over your budget and you will be able to better embrace the entire experience. So make sure that you find out exactly what is included in the retreat.


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How To Prepare for Your First Yoga Class

If you are new at yoga and are getting ready to attend your first class, here are a few things that you need to know and to do in order to prepare for your first class.

What you should wear:
You want to make sure that whatever you are wearing is close fitting to your body and is comfortable at the same time. If you wear fitted clothing it will let the instructor observe how you are doing and then offer you any needed corrections. Depending upon the weather and temperature you might want to wear layers so that as you get warmer, you can take off the layers to fit the temperature of the studio.

What you should bring:
You definitely will need to bring a water bottle and a yoga mat if you have one. However, it is not necessary to invest in one right at the beginning because you may end up not continuing on with the yoga. The studio will most often have some you can borrow or rent.

What you should expect:
This is a tough one since all classes vary a lot. It all depends on the instructor and the kind of yoga you are taking. Usually though, the beginning class will start off slow with gentle stretches or some guided meditation and then will move on through some traditional poses and end in the “corpse pose,” where you lay on your back with your eyes closed and achieve total relaxation.

Yoga etiquette:
There is of course class etiquette and this will also vary from one studio to another and from instructor to another but here are a few that seem to be constant in all classes.
  • Take your shoes off before you walk into the studio.
  • Bring your water bottle with you and sip it as needed throughout class.
  • Make sure to get there early so you will have time to introduce yourself to the teacher and let them know it is your first class.
  • Make sure to use the restroom before class starts.
  • Don't wear perfume.
  • If you have to leave early for some reason, make sure that you do it before the class is ready to relax and do the corpse pose.
If you follow this short guideline, your first yoga class should go well and you should have a very enjoyable time and will look forward to attending future classes.


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How To Control Stress Through Hatha Yoga

We all experience stress and we all know just how it can affect the way we feel. With chronic stress, it can cause some major issues with your physical health as well as your overall well being. However, if you practice Hatha yoga, you will quickly discover just how much it can help you combat the effects of stress. When you choose a yoga style that combines slow and steady body movements that include stretching and deep breathing you will be able to manage stress much easier and Hatha yoga not only fits the bill but is great for any beginner.

Stress can cause high blood pressure so these two things often go hand in hand and this can be very bad for your heart. However, if you start participating in yoga, it is going to help immediately. It has been noted by the American Heart Association that just one class will lower your blood pressure and relieve stress immediately.

It has also been discovered that women especially, with anxiety disorders have felt a lot happier and better about themselves after they have participated in Hatha yoga. They have discovered that after doing some yoga their anxiety levels are far lower than before doing the yoga.

There are many different types of poses that are used in Hatha yoga to help a person relieve stress but if you were to practice just one of them it would be the one that is called the Standing Forward Fold. All you have to do to start is to stand tall with your spine and neck both aligned and have your arms at your sides. Take in a deep breath and then raise your arms to the sky. Then as you bend your body forward, exhale, let your head drop and your stomach move toward the thighs. Whatever you do, don't force the stretching and keep the knees and neck relaxed when you exhale and then release the pose. You should stay in the pose for about three to ten breaths.


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How to Buy a Yoga Mat

Yoga is something that is very popular today, especially for those who want to improve their overall physical well-being and mental well-being. In order to fully enjoy yoga and be a lot more comfortable while practicing it, there are several tools that are suggested. The number one thing recommended would be the yoga mat. This is probably the most commonly used piece of equipment you will find in yoga. It is going to help you perform properly and more effectively in any kind of exercise you might do. It will also provide you with traction for whenever you change your position so that you are able to better maintain your balance and practice your yoga with more ease.

Since the popularity of yoga is on the rise, that means that there is an increase demand for different kinds of yoga mats. Below are a few guidelines to try and help you find the right mat that will fit your individual needs and preferences.
  1. Know what the different types of yoga mats are. Make sure to check out the features of each style of mat to determine the kind of mat that is going to be best for your personal needs. Here are the basic mats on the market today.
    • Cotton mats – These are the best for absorbing perspiration and gives you a cooling effect.
    • Sticky mats – These will provide you with enough traction so you can move and change positions easily; these are very useful in Power Yoga that involves a lot of different movements.
    • Thin mats – These require a little water to be sprinkled on them in order for you to benefit from their stability feature.
    • Ultra double thickness mats – These are more bulky than others but they do provide a lot more cushioning.
    • Meditation mats – These are best used for relaxation. This type of mat usually comes with it's own pillow.
  2. Your yoga mat needs to grip on the floor in order to prevent you from sliding and slipping. It is also very important that the mat can absorb some sweat while you are doing your yoga practices.
  3. The mat also needs to be lightweight so you can transport it easily from one place to another.
  4. The mat also needs to be both non-toxic and bio-friendly. You don't want any nasty smell getting in the way of your ability to concentrate on your yoga session.
  5. You can also ask your instructor for help on this. They should be able to help you find just the right mat for your personal needs.
  6. Finally, make sure that the mat you get is easy to maintain and clean.
A really good yoga mat will provide comfort and traction for your different yoga poses. So, make sure that you buy the mat that suits you and all of your needs and you will have a much more enjoyable yoga session.


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