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East Meeting West: 3 Key Scientific Principles for Teaching Yoga Alignments with Anatomy insight and Ancient Wisdom

When teaching yoga, a great instructor knows how to help students get the poses right, guides them with care, and teaches them mindfully. To create a good learning atmosphere, it’s important to use both old yoga teachings and new ways of teaching.

As in the ancient text Patanjali wisely said in the Yoga Sutras, “Sthira Sukham Asanam” – let the posture be steady and joyful.

Here are key insights and principles that facilitate effective teaching, drawing from both traditional yoga wisdom and contemporary perspectives:

  1. Mindful Instruction:

When teaching it’s best to focus on building a foundation. Always cue students through postures from the Base up.

  • In standing poses base is feet 
  • In sitting postures base is sitting bones 
  • In arm balancing base is Hands 
  • In inverted postures, the base is Elbow, neck and shoulders.

Remind students to Keep the head, neck and face relaxed to avoid tension and stress. Encourage them to notice their breath, as it helps keep their mind calm. Always breathe through the nose.

Don’t push too hard for perfect posture; with practice, it’ll come naturally. Start gently, guide with love, and let alignment improve gradually over time.

Anatomical Awareness:

Dear yoga teachers, let’s talk about some simple body parts and how they work in yoga. Give students some general knowledge about these names to understand your alignment cues.

Feet’s 3 anatomical points: Big mounds, small mounds and center of the heels : Think about how your feet touch the ground on all sides.

Arches: Feel the curve under your feet.

Knee Caps: When you lift your toes and arches, notice how your kneecaps get engaged and lifted.

Quadriceps and Hamstrings: These are the front and back of your thighs.

Pelvis and Hips: The center of your body where your legs connect.

Sternum: It’s your chest bone in the middle.

Shoulder Blades: The bones in your upper back.

Arms and Elbows: From the top to the bottom part of your arms.

Spine Parts: The different sections of your backbone, from the lower back to the neck.

Ribcage: Your chest area that protects your heart and lungs.

Alignment and Correction:

Yoga alignment need understanding and intelligence . Lets begin by focusing on the principles of alignment particularly when guiding students through yoga postures (asanas). It is important to pay attention to harmonize three areas;

  1. Feet and Ankles; These serve as protectors, for the knees.

Feet: Stand tall, feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Feel the ground with the four corners of your feet.

Legs: Engage your thighs, knees soft pull them up, knee cap facing front, avoid locking them.

  1. Hip Area; Acts as a safeguard for the back. This is important for protecting your lower and providing support to your spine.

Hips: Gently tuck your tailbone in if needed, keeping the pelvis neutral.

Torso: Lengthen your spine, lift your chest upward, and relax your shoulders down.

  1. Shoulder Area; Provides protection for the neck.  Shoulders away from ears and shoulder blades comfortably rest along the back of your ribs.

Arms: Let your arms hang naturally by your sides but fingers stretched, palms facing each other.

Neck and Head: Keep your head aligned over your shoulders, chin parallel to the ground.

Maintaining alignment in these areas is essential to ensure injury free practice in the long term. 

By mastering these cues in Tadasana you will establish a foundation that can be applied and progressed upon in more advanced postures as you continue with the class.

Encourage students to pay attention to their bodies. This will help them to connect with their bodies during yoga practice.

Keep instructions short and clear; too much information can confuse students. Always start teaching a new pose from the bottom of the body and work upward.

Remember to explain three key stages: how to get into a pose, how to maintain it, and how to come out of it safely. 

Personalized Guidance:

It’s important that not to remind students always about their weaknesses, focusing on other areas for development and building strength in them with kindness. 

Never disrespect a student in class. If its need to say something, Speak to the student after class. Educate students with a compassionate way Respect and avoid negative feedback.

Take some extra time after class to talk with students. It’s a great opportunity to hear their feedback, address any issues they might have, or offer solutions for any discomfort or injuries. You can also share meditation techniques to help them reduce stress at home. It’s a chance to support them beyond the yoga class. 

Incorporating Ancient Wisdom:

“Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha” – Yoga Sutra 1.2 “Yoga means to become aware about the thoughts and emotions or fluctuations of the mind.

Blending Eastern and Western Wisdom:

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” – Jigar Gor

In our Yoga New Vision 200-hour teacher training in Bali, we focus on sharing comprehensive knowledge for a safe, injury-free self-practice, and effective teaching methods. We blend ancient Eastern wisdom with modern Western science, presenting this age-old wisdom in an intelligent, easy, and compassionate way suitable for the 21st-century individual. Our course harmonizes the best of both worlds to guide you towards a holistic and loving approach to yoga practice and teaching.

Deep Kumar “A Yoga Friend”

Deep-ji (1)

Lead Trainer
Yoga New Vision 

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