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Teaching yoga should fit certain criteria, respect the yogic attitude and guarantee the participants a thorough and beneficial experience.

The present situation of yoga teaching

Nowadays, an important audience comes to yoga. The teaching of this discipline has become quite common and penetrates the different social strata and many institutions. To be a yoga teacher is now a job. However, gaining money should not be the main motivation of the teacher. Rather the very heart of his approach should be yoga in itself and to spread out this discipline. As well as the other traditional teachings, yoga requires to remain in a certain state of mind, to be aware of one’s self and others, to know the basic yogic principles and how to deal with one's mind.
Moreover, many schools or types of yoga emphasize the physical aspect, forgetting the philosophy and the aim. In yogic discipline the body is used as a medium, a psychosomatic tool or a door of perception. But the yoga techniques are never purely physical in nature and do not serve outer purposes such as suppleness or beauty.
 

Relating with the students in yoga teaching

A yoga teacher has been trained how to teach yoga and of course, he may have followed other trainings as well. But a yoga class should remain an opportunity to convey the yogic tools to the students. If the teacher knows health practices, such as massage, shiatsu, ayurvedic massage or whatever, or some psychological methods, it is better not to mix these means with his yoga teaching. Although he may pay attention to his students, he has to convey the yoga techniques without leaning on a therapeutic relation. In this way, the student can become his own therapist, experience the effects of yoga on his physical and mental health and test what is required for him to face his present needs.
Besides, the teacher needs to know what the students hope for benefits and he should respect these expectations. If people attending his class are interested in well-being and physical health, the teaching can meet their requirements and there is no need to talk about yogic principles or yogic life. But this does not mean that the teaching is minimized. The teacher can show consideration for the level of participants while respecting the depth of the yogic discipline.
 
Let us remind that yoga means union, and this concept may be interpreted in many ways : union of body and mind, balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, simultaneous use of both cerebral hemispheres, union of the solar and lunar energies, of feminine and masculine, of the individual and the cosmos.
When the teacher has deepened his understanding and his experience for himself, the simplicity of a basic class may also be the opportunity to express the deepest meaning of yoga.
 

Fundamental rules for teaching yoga

A yoga class should combine techniques for body, energy and mind. Only then can the fundamental aim of yoga be fulfilled, while respecting the demand of participants. This leads to the association of postures or asanas, breathing exercises or pranayama, a relaxation technique or yoga nidra, and for more advanced students, a simple meditation technique for channelling the mental forces without creating a vain struggle within the mind.
Asanas are not gymnastic exercises, their aim is physical health, stability and comfort, but they have to be done with proper breathing, having concern to respect the body and to create a specific attitude, with relaxation and awareness. Without this support of breath and awareness, a movement remains a mere exercise, it may bring suppleness and a momentary well-being, but it is not yoga. Each posture should harmonize body and mind, using the breath as a medium, allowing self-observation and encouraging the yogic attitude of being rather than doing.
Pranayama should respect precise rules and never go beyond the respiratory capacity of the participants. Breathing exercises are sometimes used as a way to transcend the ordinary awareness and to dive into different dimensions of consciousness. This is probably the reason which explains the cautious attitude of many western schools and federations. Pranayama is a set of wonderful techniques provided the teacher follows its process and ensures an easy way by a slow and methodical progression. It's a pity to deprive the students of pranayama ! It could give them very efficient tools to promote a better health and to deal with their mind in an indirect manner.
Relaxation is essential in a yoga class. There are short relaxation techniques and also the deep one known as yoga nidra, finalized by Swami Satyananda, which aims at relaxing the whole personality. The yoga nidra practice relieves tensions at physical, energetical, emotional, mental and psychic levels. It is the panacea to deal with stress and psycho-somatic deseases.
Meditation is another tool that can be learned when relaxation is sufficient. Tantric meditations, as taught by Swami Satyananda and Swami Niranjananda, respect the mind, do not enforce it to be concentrated or silent but aim to have a friendly attitude towards one's self. They are very efficient to slowly channel the mind without fighting with it and to provide self-knowledge.
 

The attitude of a teacher in facing himself

A yoga teacher should avoid identifying with his role of teacher. Otherwise, he blocks his own evolution process and becomes ossified in what he knows. He should also keep his mental clarity when confronted with the students and he should not be influenced by their reactions whatever they are, praises or critics. When the door of learning remains open, one maintain the humbleness of a student in charge of conveying the tools of yoga in the simplest way. That is why the teacher should remain in a personal move and follow his own sadhana with regularity, including different techniques of hatha yoga, yoga nidra and meditation, as well as a method of self-knowledge.
 
The teacher training courses held in the Yoga Centre of Aube allow to establish this state of mind, in regard to the personal progression of the teacher as well as the yoga techniques which are taught with concern for interiority and relaxation.
 
" In order to excell as a yoga teacher, after the training you have to identify with the principles of yoga rather than with the pratices. Teach people the practices of yoga, but for yourself practise the principles of yoga. "