While I loved the physical poses in yoga class, it wasn’t until I applied ancient Indian philosophy that my practice went beyond the physical. Even so, I struggled to teach these mindfulness practices to my students because yoga teacher training lacked any of this information.
Not only that, what I learned about yoga through years of research, practice, and experience required my students to step out of the comfort zone to learn and try something very different.
That was not surprising to me because I too had many questions and concerns about traditional yoga. Information about meditation, breath work, spirituality, including the relationships between yoga, religion, and Buddhism were foreign and seemed odd. It took a lot of research and dedication to understand how yoga related to my religious and cultural beliefs. To that end, I spent thousands of dollars and many hours, researching how yoga works, both from the historical perspective and modern day scientific research.
I searched every yoga teacher certification program, ashram, and book I could find. After thirty years of practice and ten years of research, I condensed what I learned from the history, theory, and experience into two books. (1) These experiences, including research in India, helped me coalesce ancient and modern yoga practices. Plus, I gained a comprehensive understanding of how yoga works and why yoga works to bring a higher level of consciousness. Yet, I was uncertain on how to share this information with students.
How was I going to teach what I uncovered? I needed a simple system that people could understand.
I needed to combine the ancient ways of traditional yoga with the new methods used in modern medical protocols. So, after students learn this information, they would prepare for spiritual experience with life changing effects.
Many practitioners remain unaware of traditional yoga sciences. These ancient methods have scientifically proven techniques which increase self-control, calmness, intuition, inspiration, and motivation. The facts are in ... traditional yoga offers more to health and wellness than physical yoga poses taught in gyms and studios. Likewise, techniques used in modern mindfulness methods help yoga students release painful experiences such as PTSD and addictions. What is more, these methods are increasingly being accepted as a realistic medical protocol in many chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
So, why not combine ancient yoga and modern mindfulness in all styles of yoga instruction to raise the bar in the yoga industry? Considering that many students have strong preferences based on their physical and personality types, it makes sense to give the student a choice as to what physical exercise goes into his practice. Ironically, that choice is one of the least important aspects of practicing yoga.
With that minor preference put aside, what remains is the education of the students in the art and science of ethical living, self-discipline, and integrity. Traditional yoga offers results in managing difficult periods in our lives. It is this aspect of yoga missing from our culture. Despite the fact our medical professionals believe that yoga eases physical and emotional issues, our yoga educators still do not teach these methods in yoga classes.
The times are changing. Yoga students are waking up to the truth and superficiality of the yoga industry. It seems western style yoga studios are the last to know what is coming. Ask around, today's yogi is ready to move on from yoga studios, their ambitious business plans, motivational yoga, yoga teacher training mills, and gimmicks.
Today's Yogi craves real yoga based in ancient philosophy proven by modern science.
So, it makes sense to add traditional yoga methods. You raise the level of yoga classes setting your yoga studio apart from others. Not only that, it also provides value to students, community, and your brand.
The following creates a higher level of yoga:
A two-book reference and journal system acquainting students with yoga theory without difficult to understand jargon. Using a guided journal links experiences with theory.
Students join a like-minded-group, practice and work together, elevating their knowledge and practice of traditional yoga.
Students who practice together have similar level of knowledge in yoga history, theory, and understanding therefore, creates a strong bond and community.
Mainstream yoga asana classes combine active and passive styles of yoga.
Asana classes use instructions based on traditional yoga theory but use less talking.
Pranayama instructions are given without excessive jargon (as in mindfulness protocols proven in scientific research that alters brain cognition).
Asana classes integrate traditional yoga with modern techniques in a clear, quiet way.
Group discussions for students experiences, concerns, and questions; working together no-one gets left behind.
Community builds relationships between teachers/students and students/students.
Not only do you give your students what they need, you stabilize your business model. By combining the traditional yoga dogma, modern mindfulness practices, and group interaction you create a yoga community benefiting your students and your yoga brand.
With this practice, students cultivate mindfulness and experience the theories of duality and non-duality, central to Indian philosophy and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. This is the experience of body, mind, and spirt. No vague motivational speeches or sweaty workouts can do this.
This level of yoga is rarely taught in yoga teacher training and I have never seen it offered in public yoga studios.
See my next blog post for part 2 of this conversation about
Raising the bar for yoga studios.
Yoga practitioners want more information about yoga theory, yoga history, consciousness studies, Buddhism, eastern religion, and medical mindfulness protocols. Additionally, most people today yearn for personal connections with others who are likeminded and enjoy the physical practices of asana. By combining both physical and intellectual work you provide your students a place to read, write their reflections, discover themselves and create new relationships.
To get started
Order the Book and Journal. Read the book, write in the journal, and discover more about your inner Self. Once you encounter "Yoga Affect" you will want to share it with others.
See how easy it is to open your mind and learn about yourself. Then you can consider how to implement the system into your studio.
To learn more about how you can raise the bar in your yoga studio and benefit from my book and journal please visit my website: http://www.SandZuid.com.
(1) Yoga Affect: A Primer for a Beautiful Life, 2016 Sandra Zuidema. and Yoga Affect: A Guided Journal, 2016 Sandra Zuidema.
Sandra Zuidema is the author of the Yoga Affect Series. Yoga Affect: A Primer for a Beautiful Life and it's companion journal, Yoga Affect: A Guided Journal, both available on Amazon.com. To learn more about the series and please visit the website SandZuid.com