Sit ups are a sure fire way to damage your back, neck and hip flexors. Remember the Physical Fitness tests in school, who can throw themselves up and down on a wrestling mat the most in 60 seconds is in shape. WHAT? Who in the world is coming up with these tests? No wonder as adults we are throwing ourselves all over the room thinking and feeling like we are getting our bodies in shape. If you never do another single sit-up in your life you will be better off. So what if you could engage in a exercise that would turn on more core power in less time and guess what, less effort? When I teach classes of any sort and especially core based classes most new-Be's feel the urgency to go fast and go really what they would call deep in the hopes of getting a better workout. And I am pretty sure I have pissed a few students off from time to time because I hold them back. And it's not the kind of holding back you are probably thinking, but rather the kind of holding back that will actually require more core power and more control.
As a teacher I see this often, other teachers and students trying to replicate moves they have seen in a magazine or others do in a class or at home. The only problem is they don't really know what they are doing, what they should be using and how to activate deep core muscle.
So today all you need is a small ball, or what some call a mini ball and take your time, go slow and focus more on stability than mobility. Think baby steps. A child will never learn to walk before he or she learns to stand and so on.
- Find neutral (refer to my you tube channel for a walk through on neutral) with the ball behind the sacrum and the spine long above.
- Step your feel sit bones with apart, if necessary place a block or extra ball between the knees for more pelvic floor integration and leg control.
- Exhale and slightly kiss the sacrum into the small ball without rounding the spine. Think about a hula dancer they can move their hips without moving their torso.
- With that kiss activate your pelvic floor muscles which will allow your pelvis to refrain from overly tilting when you go back and also assist your groin from taking over.
- Either place your hands gently at your knees or up at shoulder height.
- Inhale; begin to extend your body back without rounding and with out tilting your pelvis forward.
- Come to 45°, were the hip flexors are not straining and the body feels a slight earth quake shake. Remember to activate the pelvic floor region.
- Exhale and return back to an upright seated position. Be sure not to pull forward with the arms, but rather pull up through the top of the head and imagine a little hand in your core floating up.
- Repeat this 8-10 times, only as many as you can be the most effective.
- Don’t arch your lower back
- Adjust arm positions to support the neck or try arms crossed holding opposite elbows.
- It is not about speed or how many reps, this type of core work is about control and stability.
- Watch that your not resting on the ball, think trying to be in front of the ball when you move.
- Make an effort to minimally breathe into the belly and maximize breathing into the side body and ribs.
Over the past decade, I've noticed that there is more to teaching yoga than just knowing the names of the poses, what they look like, and how to put them together to create a flow.
Below are the key tips that I share with my teachers and trainees to help them put their best foot forward -- not only in teaching, but in their own personal journey as well. To me, that is what yoga is all about and if you can make that personal growth, it becomes a lot easier to be an effective yoga teacher.
1. Stay a student.
When we think we know it all and stop learning, we stop re-evaluating what we are doing and stunt growth. Being a student means that, as yoga teachers, we continue to learn from others, take classes, read lots, and take trainings or workshops. On top of that we, work to discover our strong as well as our weak areas. When we stay a student we also stay humble and compassionate, which is a very important quality for a yoga teacher.
2. Know your students.
I know it seems obvious, but what type of investment are you really making in your students? Many of them trust you more than other authorities figures in their lives. So knowing your students is more than knowing their names but learning to read both their body language and body mechanics.
Day One of my teacher training, I teach students how to train their eye to detailed observation. When you start to apply this type of approach to your students, you notice that Sally in the back is always rubbing her neck before class, and Bill in the corner makes a funny face every time he’s in cobra, and Jill up front wears glasses into yoga but not during yoga.
This is what I call the hidden investment, meaning these are things you are noticing but they may not notice you noticing them. When we assess this way we are better able to give our student what they need without asking them directly (which we all know doesn’t always get us an answer or maybe not the real one).
This knowing leads us right into things like speed of speech, body language, type of conversations they have in class, outside activities from yoga, the list goes on. But as a yoga teacher or any effective “life” teacher this is important to do and understand its importance. To continue reading this article by Hope click to visit MindBodyGreen.com where this article was posted.
Not your average Sun Salutation, join Hope for a quick series of fun, effective detail orientated Sun Salutation postures. In just 15 minutes feel refreshed and read for the day. Namaste.
We as yogis are versed in "Warrior I.” As a yoga teacher, functional fanatic and lifelong student, I have come across some very interesting variations to the traditional Warrior I.
When I teach the physical postures I try to give students a blue print to go off of. And before a student or teacher trainee learns any other postures with me, they first must understand the concept of neutral or Tadasana. In the West, we have an especially warped concept of good posture. Over the last decade teaching, I have found myself morphing my yoga practice and teaching into a more physically functional approach with a spiritual tradition wrapped in.
Whenever I introduce this concept to the public or new students I try to help people understand that once we can learn neutral, we then can learn un-neutral. A simple example would be a foot pattern besides neutral. Many people already have an external rotation on the foot with a collapsed main arch, so we need to approach postures with an understanding and re-educating of the foot to neutral, and then we can do other things. Understanding neutral can really help us function better in by getting us out of the rounded torso, tight hip flexors, the need for arch supports, fluffy pillow, and get back to knowing our bodies and what they really need.
With Functional Warrior I, students gain better insight into their body from a Mountain Pose perspective or neutral, and begin to see the blueprint of their bodies; what is tight, short, slack, strong or weak. From there, they can begin to heal and gain ground to what in yoga we call balance and what I suggest is finding the imbalances.
To read more on this topic visit MindBodyGreen, where Hope has this article posted.
Our pelvic floor is literally the bottom of the torso, where all muscles eventually insert. And commonly, teachers just assume you know where the pelvic floor is, what it entails and how to activate this vital area. Join me for a few minutes as I take you through the three areas of contraction (for women, 2 for men). If you want to be 85 and not peeing your pants and hopefully improve your sex life and energetic vitality, then this is a must to all your teachings and an exercise you can do anytime and any where! Namaste!
Core Clock Work is a wonderful way to wake up your entire body and turn on your core! Gain length in your spine, torso, loosen your hips and lower back, and work your core!
Our voice is such a powerful tool as teachers. We can direct the class towards a certain feeling or experience simply by changing the tone of our voice.
Our voice is also our fifth chakra the Throat Chakra, our voice center, our center of communication, of speech, of being heard. And as a yoga teacher how you express yourself in your voice can and does make a world of difference in the effectiveness of your teachings. So speak up and speak out.
Watching the tone of your voice, and changing the inflection to help facilitate your point or emphasis on the pose or the message you are trying to get across can help by leaps and bounds when guiding students into a deep and meaningful practice on all levels.
By changing your voice tone you also help catch wandering minds and bring them back. Because if you don't seem very enthused to be there--why should they? We often see yoga and think "zen" and yes that is true, but also remember that you are creating a dialogue, so to speak with your students. So know that it is OK to laugh, to get excited, to show power in your voice and show sympathy, all through how you speak.
As a yoga teacher speaking up entails way more than you would normally think. As a yoga teacher you are asked to speak your truth, share your heart and empower yourself with the energy and knowledge that life is teaching you. To be a yoga teacher will push your boundaries more than you will ever imagine and it is unlike any other teaching because you are offering a part of yourself in a way only yoga can offer it.
I am a huge communicator and love the concepts of communication, public speaking, writing and expression on all levels. Yoga is a practice that thrives on this and to be an effective yoga teacher you really must be an effective communicator. And if for some reason you can't speak due to a cold or whatever that voice has to come out through mindful actions and breathing. If you don't seem too enthused to be teaching, don't expect your students to be too enthused to be on their mat with you.
So start your class off on the right breath and introduce yourself to new students, ask about issues or concerns, why they are in class (create that dialogue), use your voice and pitch while teaching to emphasis your point and direction and never to forget to offer gratitude and thank students for coming, for there efforts, and a little humbleness along the way never hurts as well.
So go out and be mindful, speak up!
Let me know how your communication is communicating!
10 Tips for a Functional Body By Hope Zvara Here are ten key tips to stop treating pain and to start treating dysfunction:1. Get off the floor. Unless you are a mechanic, training yourself, especially your core, solely (or the majority of the time) on the floor will not get you the results you are hoping to achieve. Think about how you can do what you are trying to do on the floor standing up. Lying flat on your back for core work only triggers about 10% of your transversus abdominus, your core most muscle (which is also a back muscle). So how about a standing “Pilates” 100 or what about the standing “Saw”? Look at what the movement is trying to achieve, not necessarily what it looks like, so you can morph it into a more body-friendly version.Please visit Mindbodygreen.com to view the rest of this post! And feel free to leave a great comment!
No one persons body is the same. No one persons body is put together alike, nor do they hold trauma or recover the same way either. So then why are we treating our students like they are all the same? And as teachers, trainers or coaches, part of our responsibility is to help and educate our student to know their bodies as many of them don't.
As a teacher and (teacher) trainer myself, I know this well. Teachers learn the "routine" and then teach it to their students. But what if a student shouldn't or can't do what your piece of paper says to do? What do you do? How do you accommodate them and still keep the class going? Or wouldn't it be nice to walk into class and ask your class what they would like to work on and be able to meet those needs? It's possible, just requires a bit of work on your part.
I unfortunately have seen the back lash of this, both as a student and as a teacher. Students having an "ah ha" moment in class as they realized that their back SHOULDN'T hurt in Cobra (I hear this a lot from new to me students of yoga). Or I as a new student in class was never asked about any health issues or concerns I might have (and this was at a very popular New York studio). What if I had a heart condition and knew nothing about what not to do, like lifting my arms overhead would be a concern and put pressure on my heart. Or what if I just had knee surgery and this was my first exercise class since then, or ever. The reality is that students don't think that issues they have would pertain to your services for various reasons. My mom had a heart attach while teaching at my studio and I was there and know that she is no no medications and know that she has no preexisting conditions and for me to do CPR on her and they EMT's to use the AED I know that no extra damage was ever done. But what if that was one of my students. In my case I have health records for each of my students and this is why. The question is "do you?"
Who cares if you have a successful business or any club for that matter, because if your business lacks the ability to actually do what you are saying you are setting out to do,to me that is a huge problem.
So now the question is how do I change this?
1. Update your client history at least once a year and post regularly that students need to inform you if their health has changed for any reason. And if they ask let them know that it is for "their health". How can you help someone if you know nothing about them?
2. Get to know your students, read the waiver forms, ask your clients and class questions about health issues, I can guarantee that your client retention will be much higher when they notice that you are actually paying attention to them and are hear to "help" them and not just kick their butt.
3. Re-evaluate what you are teaching or coaching? Why are you doing what you are doing? And what you are guiding, does it have merit to the health and well-being to your clients and students? I like to ask myself the "why" question. Why are you teaching me this, why are we doing this. Now don't go all mental on me, I am using this context to look at how we move our physical bodies, I don't believe we need to know all the why's in life, but I do think this one is important.
4. If you feel the need to pre-write your classes, base them off of your students issues and concerns. And remember what they need and what they want may not be the same so "show" them and educate them as to what you are teaching. This is a big red flag for students. If you teacher is just "doing" something just because, I would be worried. Many of my students know that as we go into to something they are not virgin to hear me say "if you have XYZ going on do not do this or go that far", followed up by "and this is why". If they know why they are more likely to not do it and then not hurt themselves and as a result trust you more.
5. Talk to your students. Get them to talk to you and respond to inquiries you are provoking on them. "How does this feel". I like to quiz my students in class. "Why do you think we are doing A this way?", this makes them stop and think and for a moment not just go through the motions. Plus they feel you are actually invested in them and that you do in fact know what you are talking about.
6. Get them to "self check". Ask them to look at their feet (or body part), I often use the lingo "actually look at your feet, take a moment you are this close-LOOK". This kindly reminds your students to actually practice body awareness, something we often "think" we are doing but are really off in la-la-land.
7. As the teacher or the trainer learn these flags (and teach them to your students): they can't do the exercise, there is tension or pain, alignment is off or difficult. Often times when a student experiences one of all of these they force even more and end up in greater pain or frustrated and if there is no line of communication between student and teacher how will you ever solve this problem.
8. Ask yourself and have your students ask themselves "how is this helping"? How is this helping them, is what you are doing just so hard that they are creating more problems just to do it, than actually trying to achieve the purpose of the exercise. When our bodies have dysfunction and we move in a way that encourages that dysfunction, how are we any closer to wellness than before; how are our bodies any healthier than yesterday? The only benefit may be in our head (ego).
9. Think "corrective exercises". Identify what the "pain" is or the "dysfunction" is and work to create balance. We are often thinking backwards. Balance is our goal. But if we can't identify the imbalance how will balance be achieved. This also encourages your students to take some self responsibility and create body awareness as they have to think for themselves. Something many honestly are not very versed in.
10. And finally as the student, you cannot put all the responsibility on your teacher or coach; at some point you must be responsible. This is a great reminder for all students that your teacher is not God, they do not live in your body, nor are they a mind reader. But as the teacher it is in our best interest to teach and encourage and educate clients on what is asked of them and let them know how this can help and show them the parallel to everyday life. I often point out to my students that as we blame our teacher or our mat or the distracting student next to us for why we can't do something, we most likely are also living that way (I am talking from life experience, this is how I use to live).
Mind-body fitness, yoga and any type of physical, mental and spiritual well-being exericse is a give and take, teachers give your students reason to want more and students give a little something for your teacher to work off of, you'd be surprised as to what comes about.