Dr Sahdev’s Principles of Yoga Practice for Yoga Teachers and Therapists
Based on his experience of working with patients over last almost three decades and teaching traditional yoga for more than 37,000 hours, Dr Sahdev has developed Principles for Yoga Teachers and Therapists guiding Yoga practice. An excerpt of the principles is as follows:
- BREATH: There is no Yoga without proper breathing. Teach control of breathing right from day 1, and then keep encouraging to use the control more and more. Pranayama is a whole science in itself, but basic breath control with proper technique should be taught to everyone.
- DRISHTI OR GAZE: Drishti or gaze keeps us focused. Some mudras (postures) with gaze also evoke certain useful responses in brain. Make your students aware of that.
- BANDHAS OR LOCKS: Bandhas or energy locks help lock in or release energy at will. It’s a deep knowledge, but some basic bandhas should be taught right from the beginning.
- ALIGNMENT: Proper alignment helps prevent injury. Permitting for different body types, teach your students proper alignments, but it should never be forced.
- DO NO HARM: The first principle delineated in the Hippocratic Oath for Physicians is: First of all, do no harm. This principle is good for any healing science.
- AIM IS TO HEAL: Based on Dr Sahdev’s experience from Surgery and CAT (Combined Approach Treatment) Clinic in India, he considers Modern Medicine and Yoga and other alternative pathies complementary to each other. So, we work in co-operation with Modern Medicine. The intention is to heal the person physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually and socially.
- SAFE ENVIRONMENT: Make the clients feel safe and comfortable. Cultivate ahimsa (non-violence) by encouraging students to honor their own personal journey and explore their own full potential, with compassion and integrity. There should never be any competition. Yoga is, in the last analysis, a very personal journey.
- ENCOURAGE BALANCE: Sthira sukham asanam- a yoga pose, by Pantanjali‘s definition, should be stable and comfortable. Encourage students to challenge themselves and keep improving, but never strain in an imbalanced way. Extremes are never advised in Yoga, though the definition of extreme may vary from person to person.
- START FROM WHERE YOU ARE: Individual abilities and limitations should always be acknowledged and honored by offering accessible and appropriate modifications that reflect the intention and function of traditional postures.
- INTENTION OVER FORM: At least to begin with, let go of ideas of how a perfect pose should look. Focus instead on how a pose feels. Teach students to discriminate between discomfort, which may be an inherent part of the growth process, and pain, which is to be avoided.
- BE A FRIEND AND A GUIDE: Don’t assume you know what’s going on in someone else’s mind or body. Consider yourself a guide and a friend, helping students explore what works best for them.
- GRATITUDE: Create an environment that celebrates what students can do and tell them to be thankful for that. Be positive about what they can do and encourage them to focus on that.
- SMOOTH AND FLUID MOVEMENTS: Moving in a smooth, fluid and non-jerky way is of paramount importance in yoga. It becomes particularly important with less flexible bodies.
- LEARN TO USE YOUR VOICE: Be encouraging always. Say what you want to convey. Encourage and invite to perform better and better.
- SCOPE OF YOGA: Though yoga has immense possibilities, never try to step into forbidden waters! Recognize that what we can do as yoga teachers is only part of the integrative health care landscape. Get proper training and do only what we are trained to do, and refer to other practitioners when necessary.
- SAFETY FIRST: Getting CPR/AED training can be useful. Keep your certification current.
- FOCUS ON THE PERSON: Teach people, make modifications, introduce variations. Stay client-centric rather than following a rigid and inflexible routine.