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YOGA TECHNIQUES AND TRAINING EXAMINATION

Karuna Yoga Vidya Peetham
Karuna Yoga Vidya Peetham
Karuna Yoga Vidya PeethamFounder & Director at Karuna Yoga Vidya Peetham

YOGA TECHNIQUES AND TRAINING Exam Paper 1 1. Write Asana Laboratory observation for Uttanasana, Paschimottanasana and Chakrasana or urdhva dhanurasana Follow the below general principles for all asana laboratory observations.

YOGA TECHNIQUES AND TRAINING EXAMINATION

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YOGA TECHNIQUES AND TRAINING
Exam Paper 1
1. Write Asana Laboratory observation for
Uttanasana, Paschimottanasana and Chakrasana
or urdhva dhanurasana
Follow the below general principles for all asana
laboratory observations.
1
➢Support and honor the participant, yourself
and everyone in the class. Do not compromise
safety.
➢Prepare the participant by explaining the asana,
what she / he will be doing and that they can
come out any time. If any specific issues
(like tight hips) are to be highlighted, explain that
also.
➢ Practice to comment in a sensitive manner.
There is no ideal “pose” as everybody’s body is
different, honor that.
2
3
➢Once the participant has come into the asana,
take a minute to observe and don't rush into
pointing out what is incorrect. Include
encouragement, point out where alignment is
right, or see improvements.
➢Start with observing the most “at risk” areas of
the asana.
➢Keep the lab interactive, asking the model
questions about how they are feeling, asking
other students etc.
Uttanasana
4
I. Breath & General vibe
(1)How comfortable the model feels, how they
are breathing etc. Observe and ask questions. If
they look uncomfortable, not steady - explore
reasons why. Typically, not proper grounding
causes people to feel unsteady.
II. Grounding, Feet & Ankles
(1)Are the feet rooted down? Are toes spread
wide to give stability? Is the big toe rooted (not
raised up)?
(2)Is the weight spread evenly across four
corners of feet?
5
(3)Is pada bandha activated?
(4)Are feet together? In traditional hatha feet
are together. Practices like Vinyasa allow the feet
to be apart to help with balance. Suggest
modifications like keeping feet apart if needed.
III. Knees, Legs
(1)Are Knees straight? If the model has lower
back pain, knees can be bent especially in
Ashtanga and Vinyasa. Teach modification.
(2) Are the kneecaps lifted and thighs engaged?
III. Pelvis, Spine, Back
1. Is the model folding from the hips?
6
2. Is the upper back straight (no rounding in the
upper back)? If upper back is rounded, have the
model lengthen the spine and straighten the upper
back. Guide the model to take ardha uttanasana to
lengthen spine and fold down without bending the
upper back.
3. Are the hips and knees in line?
V. Rib cage, Chest
1. Is the chest resting or close to the thighs? If
not, can the participant go deeper? Tight
hamstrings may be limiting to go deeper. Guide the
model to bend knees slightly to get chest down to

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YOGA TECHNIQUES AND TRAINING EXAMINATION

  • 1. YOGA TECHNIQUES AND TRAINING Exam Paper 1 1. Write Asana Laboratory observation for Uttanasana, Paschimottanasana and Chakrasana or urdhva dhanurasana Follow the below general principles for all asana laboratory observations. 1
  • 2. ➢Support and honor the participant, yourself and everyone in the class. Do not compromise safety. ➢Prepare the participant by explaining the asana, what she / he will be doing and that they can come out any time. If any specific issues (like tight hips) are to be highlighted, explain that also. ➢ Practice to comment in a sensitive manner. There is no ideal “pose” as everybody’s body is different, honor that. 2
  • 3. 3 ➢Once the participant has come into the asana, take a minute to observe and don't rush into pointing out what is incorrect. Include encouragement, point out where alignment is right, or see improvements. ➢Start with observing the most “at risk” areas of the asana. ➢Keep the lab interactive, asking the model questions about how they are feeling, asking other students etc. Uttanasana
  • 4. 4 I. Breath & General vibe (1)How comfortable the model feels, how they are breathing etc. Observe and ask questions. If they look uncomfortable, not steady - explore reasons why. Typically, not proper grounding causes people to feel unsteady. II. Grounding, Feet & Ankles (1)Are the feet rooted down? Are toes spread wide to give stability? Is the big toe rooted (not raised up)? (2)Is the weight spread evenly across four corners of feet?
  • 5. 5 (3)Is pada bandha activated? (4)Are feet together? In traditional hatha feet are together. Practices like Vinyasa allow the feet to be apart to help with balance. Suggest modifications like keeping feet apart if needed. III. Knees, Legs (1)Are Knees straight? If the model has lower back pain, knees can be bent especially in Ashtanga and Vinyasa. Teach modification. (2) Are the kneecaps lifted and thighs engaged? III. Pelvis, Spine, Back 1. Is the model folding from the hips?
  • 6. 6 2. Is the upper back straight (no rounding in the upper back)? If upper back is rounded, have the model lengthen the spine and straighten the upper back. Guide the model to take ardha uttanasana to lengthen spine and fold down without bending the upper back. 3. Are the hips and knees in line? V. Rib cage, Chest 1. Is the chest resting or close to the thighs? If not, can the participant go deeper? Tight hamstrings may be limiting to go deeper. Guide the model to bend knees slightly to get chest down to
  • 7. 7 thighs and then slowly straighten the knees to get a deeper hamstring stretch. VI. Shoulders, arms, hands and fingers, 1. Are the shoulders, arms relaxed? 2. Are the fingers in line with the toes or heel? If the participant is not able, demonstrate use of a block for modification and hands/fingers can be on block VII. Neck, head 1. Is the neck relaxed and lengthened towards feet? 2. Is the head relaxed and heavy?
  • 8. 8 VIII. Where is the model’s energy? 1. Is the model in “sthira sukha asana” - calm and comfortable? Guide through deep breathing to relax and fold down further. Paschimottanasana I. Breath & General vibe (1)How comfortable the model feels, how they are breathing etc. If they look uncomfortable, not steady - explore reasons why. II. Feet & Ankles (1)Are feet together?
  • 9. 9 (2)Are toes pointing up? No need to flex feet but feet should be active. III. Knees, Legs (1)Are the legs straight? Are the legs engaged? (2)Are there knees bent? Depending on body structure, some bodies will have a slight arch behind the knee while some will be able to place flat without any space. To prevent hyperextension and to accommodate different body types, it is okay to have a slight bent knee, but it should not be raised. For knee issues, a rolled up blanket under the
  • 10. 10 knees as a prop may provide comfort and prevent injury. (3) Are thighs engaged and slight inward rotation? IV.Pelvis, Spine, Back 1. Is the folding / hinging forward from the hips? If having trouble, can use a bolster to elevate the hips to allow the pelvis to tilt and elongate the spine. 2. Is the spine long and straight? 3. Are both buttocks on the ground? 4. Is the navel drawn in and towards the spine? 5. Is the back straight (no rounding in the back)?
  • 11. 11 V. Rib cage, Chest 1. Is the chest close / reaching towards the thighs? VI. Shoulders, arms, hands and fingers, 1. Are the fingers or palms reaching the feet, toes or ankle? Tight hamstrings may limit flexibility. Guide the model to use straps as prop to wrap around feet. This will help stretch the back without rounding and get more extension to the back. VII. Neck, Head 1. Is the neck relaxed? 2. Is the crown of head reaching towards toes?
  • 12. 12 VIII. Where is the model’s energy? 1. Is the model in “sthira sukha asana” - calm and comfortable? Guide through deep breathing to relax and fold further keeping alignment. Chakrasana I. Breath & General vibe (1)How comfortable the model feels, how they are breathing etc. Observe and ask questions. If they look uncomfortable, not steady - explore reasons why. Typically, not proper grounding
  • 13. 13 causes people to feel unsteady. Is the model properly grounded with both feet on ground? II. Grounding, Feet & Ankles (1)Are the feet rooted down? Are toes spread wide to give stability? (2)Are the feet foot width apart? This gives stability. (3)Is the weight spread evenly across four corners of feet? III. Knees, Legs (1)Are hamstrings engaged
  • 14. 14 (2)Are thighs engaged, rotated inwards and parallel? (3) Are the knees hip width apart? Can place a block between knees and guide model to squeeze the block to keep knees aligned. IV.Pelvis, Spine, Back 1. Is the core engaged to protect the lower back? 2. Are the hips lifted and relaxed? V. Rib cage, Chest 1. Is the chest open and pulling upwards? This asana is a deep backbend. VI. Shoulders, arms, hands and fingers,
  • 15. 15 1. Are elbows in line with shoulders? 2. Are the palms on the ground, palms down? 3. Are the fingers pointing towards the feet? 4. Are the palms below the shoulder, shoulder width apart? If shoulders are tight, can move them slightly apart. If tight shoulders or armpits, can demonstrate doing Chakrasana against the wall. This variation allows to gradually work on building the flexibility needed to reach Wheel Pose. 5. Are the arms slightly externally rotated? If arms are splaying out, a strap can be used to
  • 16. stabilize. Chakarasana is an advanced asana and should not be pushed. VII. Neck, head 1. Is the neck relaxed? 2. Is the head relaxed and hanging without straining the neck? VIII. Where is the model’s energy? 1. Is the model in “sthira sukha asana” - calm and comfortable? Guide through deep breathing to further relax in the back bend. 16
  • 17. 17 2.Write an essay for 500 words about Basic Elements of Asana Practice, by utilizing your hatha yoga practice experience. Asana practice is integral to Yoga. Often called an asana sequence, it consists of moving through a series of asanas. The pace, style and sequencing can vary widely with the style of yoga. The basic elements of asana practice include: ● Alignment: Alignment refers to being in a proper position. Anatomy and biomechanics of each
  • 18. 18 asana gives its alignment principles which tells how best to align. With proper alignment, one can be in “sthira sukha asana” - in comfort and ease as mentioned by Sage Patanjali. Proper alignment will give maximum benefits and reduce injury. Yoga teachers provide verbal instructions and physical cues to help students achieve and maintain proper alignment. ● Foundation and stability: Each asana has a different foundation that allows students to explore and learn grounding actions. Good grounding makes an asana more comfortable.
  • 19. 19 ● Breathing: Proper breathing is an important part of asana practice as it links the body and the mind. Students may be asked to breathe in a particular way to maximize the benefit - example ujjai breath, rhythmic breathing, basthrika etc. Proper breathing maximizes the benefit of the asana and makes it comfortable to go deeper into the asana - for example, one can go deeper into twist by inhaling on lengthening and exhaling while twisting. Deep breathing also calms the mind.
  • 20. 20 ● Transitions: Asana practice involves transitioning in and out of asanas. In transitioning in, it is important to establish initial foundation with the proper alignment and facilitate stable, safe and comfortable transition movements. Once in asana, breathing should be continuously focused to refine and deepen exploration of the asana. Transitioning out should be done mindfully and safely. ● Developing Strength and Flexibility: Asana practice helps build strength through holding, balancing asanas, surya namaskar etc.. They
  • 21. also increase flexibility and range of motion in the body. ● Increasing awareness: Asana practice helps develop our awareness of both our body and mind as one stays focused on their body movements and breathing. The linking of movement to breathing seems to impart special benefits in improving mood, relieving stress and improving mental health. Thus a well-rounded asana practice promotes physical and mental health. 21
  • 22. 22 3.Write an essay for 500 words about, by retrieving your experience, Write about, General Principles in Giving Physical Cues and Adjustments. Alignment principles are rooted in the functional anatomy and biomechanics of each asana. Thus, a working understanding of human anatomy and kinesiology is necessary. Keep the following general principles in mind when giving physical cues and adjustments: ➢Ask for permission before touching for adjustment: Before giving any physical
  • 23. 23 adjustment, it is important to ask the student’s permission. This shows respect and makes the students feel safe. ➢Respect boundaries: Only provide adjustments that are appropriate and necessary. Avoid giving adjustments that are too forceful or that make the student feel uncomfortable. ➢Be mindful of the student’s body: Pay attention to the student’s body and any injuries or limitations they may have. Adjustments should never cause pain or discomfort and should be done with sensitivity and care.
  • 24. 24 ➢Use clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language that the student can easily understand. Avoid using jargon or complex instructions that may confuse the student. If a certain area is being stretched, remind the student so they can pay attention to the part and be aware. ➢Don't give too many cues as it might be overwhelming. Tell students the important ones, so they can focus. In advanced classes where the students are familiar with the basic foundation, a teacher may provide more cues for
  • 25. 25 refinement. Tailor your verbal cues for the class level. ➢ Demonstrate the adjustment: If helpful, first demonstrate the adjustment on yourself or on another student. ➢ Focus on the Base and build up. Focus on grounding cues first, and align each cue as you move up. For example, for standing asanas, start with the legs, alignment of legs, knees, then spine, pelvis and finish with proper alignment of neck and the gaze. This ensures students are stable.
  • 26. 26 ➢Understand anatomy and guide the student to align the body properly so that the right muscles can activate and the right connective tissue can stretch. ➢ Provide feedback and encouragement: Provide feedback and encouragement to the student. Acknowledge good asanas, good effort and when a student is doing well. Provide corrective comments in a positive and constructive way. ➢Remind students to not overdo or overcompensate as it can cause injury.
  • 27. 4.Write an essay for 500 words about, by retrieving your experience; write about, how not to touch in asana Adjustments. 1. Never touch without express permission to touch. Honor the students' wishes. 2. Never touch or assist if you do not know the principles of alignment for the asana. Yoga teachers should know where to place pressure etc.. Keep in mind the Patanjali principle of “satya”, what you know and do not know. 27
  • 28. 28 3. Never touch or assist when you are not ready, stable or prepared. First, the teacher must position themselves in a correct, stable position before assisting. 4. Never be aggressive or push too hard or cause pain. Touch should be gentle and comfortable for the student. Keep in mind the Patanjali principle of “ahimsa” which is the most important concept about hand assists which should not hurt the student. 5. Never touch inappropriately. Be careful where you touch.
  • 29. 6. Never use techniques that hurt. For example, use palms, not fingers which can feel like poking. 7. Never compromise on the safety of the student. Keep checking in with the student if the pressure is ok etc.. 8. The teacher must also be aware of their intention behind the physical touch. Keep in mind the principle of “brahmacharya”. 29
  • 30. 30 5. Write an essay for 500 words about, Importance of Modifications, Variations, and the Use of Props in asana practice. Modifications and variations are important in yoga practice because every single body is different. B.K.S. Iyengar invented ways to use props to support the body in yoga poses to help people who were having difficulty doing asanas the traditional way. This was a major innovation in Yoga and made Yoga accessible to a wider swath of people. It also helped reduce injuries and helped in healing. Props and modification are particularly
  • 31. 31 useful to people suffering from muscle stiffness, injuries, or have some structural issues that make certain asanas difficult. It also made the practice of Yoga more welcoming and its benefits could be enjoyed by all. Blocks, straps, blankets, bolsters are some common props used in Yoga. Some practices include chairs, benches, walls and other supporting structures. While Iyengar Yoga uses props extensively, in modern practice, most studios and classes offer props in all kinds of classes like Yin, Vinyasa, Ashtanga etc.. The students and teachers
  • 32. 32 have become creative with experimentation and trying out to find out what works for each body. Below are some examples of popular modifications using props on widely used asanas with figures: (1) Utthita Trikonasana using block as prop - helps to safely extend the hands and bring the floor to the hand, so practitioner can focus on the hip alignment and twist. (2) Passhimotanasan using strap as prop - Extends arms to grasp feet and helps practitioner stretch the back safely protecting lower back, hamstrings
  • 33. (3)Savasana using chair - protects the spine for people with spine issues (4) Folded blanket under knees - protects knees for people with injured or sensitive knees 33
  • 34. Thus, modifications, variations and props are invaluable tools to make yoga accessible, safe, minimize injuries and an integral part in healing and yoga therapy. 6. Write an essay for 500 words about, Pacing and Holding duration in standing, sitting, supine and in inversion pose. Pacing and holding are integral parts of yoga 34
  • 35. 35 practice. Pacing and holding varies depending on style of Yoga and level of class. Pacing: Pacing is the speed with which the practitioner moves through the asanas. In a fast paced class like Vinyasa, the pace is usually quick and practitioners move through the asanas fast. Good verbal cues are very important in fast paced class. Teachers should practice giving brief effective cues linking breath to the movement. In a slower paced class like Hatha, the students may hold the asanas for a longer time before moving to the next asana. This will give more opportunity to
  • 36. 36 refine the posture, go deeper into asana, hands-on assist etc. Dynamic practices like Ashtanga, Vinyasa will have a faster pace and create active energy are thus suited for a morning practice. Restorative practices like Yin will move at a slow pace and be relaxing and ideal for evening. Holding: Holding is the length of time an asana is held. In fast moving styles like Ashtanga or Vinyasa, each asana is held for a short period of time, usually a few breaths. In Iyengar or Yin Yoga, each asana is held for a longer time giving the practitioner time to explore, deepen and release
  • 37. 37 tightness and tension from deeper layers of connective tissue and muscle. The importance of proper alignment is underscored in practices where the asana is held for longer duration. Teacher should look for signs that a student is pushing too hard by observing signs of discomfort or improper breathing and encourage students to come out or modify. Yoga teachers should give proper verbal cues depending on pace and holding duration. The pacing and holding should not distract students from developing their awareness of the body and asanas.
  • 38. Thus, even in a fast moving class, the pace should not be so rushed that students are rushing from asana to asana. By paying attention and creating appropriate pace and holding duration, yoga practice can be safe and beneficial. 7. Write an essay for 500 words about, How to refine asana in while holding final pose. Once we come into our final pose for an asana, we can take some time to refine our pose. This is 38
  • 39. 39 an important benefit especially in traditional Hatha yoga as the practice gives an opportunity to refine our alignments and deepen the pose. The below explains how to refine a pose using Uttanasana as an example. Uttanasana or Standing forward fold is one of the most practiced asanas which is a beginner asana and an integral part of Surya Namaskars. It stretches the spine, opens hips and hamstrings. Refining in final pose 1. Have a good understanding of alignment of the asana as it helps guide the refinements.
  • 40. 40 2. Pay attention to the student - make note of any misalignments, general comfort level, breath etc. 3. Make sure practitioner’s grounding or foundation is stable. First make sure of your grounding and stability in the final asana. Start with alignment corrections in grounding because this provides stability. In Uttanasana, feet should be firmly planted on the ground. In some styles like Vinyasa, feet can be a little apart to be stable. Pay attention to your feet and press your big toe to the ground if lifted.
  • 41. 41 3. Work from the foundation up. Once grounding is stable, focus on major alignment points first. For example in Uttanasana, focus on lengthening the spine and deepening hamstring stretch. Uttanasana - Lengthen your spine. To refine your pose, focus on lengthening your spine by making sure that you are bending from the pelvis and hip and not from the back. If your upper back is rounded, straighten it. Straighten your back with an ardha uttanasana if needed and then go down to uttanasana. Press your heels down firmly into the floor and maintain the
  • 42. 42 length of your spine from the crown of your head to your tailbone. Engage and tighten core muscles to bend deeper while keeping stable. Uttanasana - Explore Deepening your hamstring stretch. Pay attention to your knees. If you have no lower back issues, keep your knees straight, lift your kneecaps, engage thighs to open your hamstrings and deepen the stretch. If you have lower back issues, bend your knees to reach further down and slowly straighten your knees to get a deeper hamstring stretch.
  • 43. 43 Continue your refinements. Once major alignment points are corrected, explore going deeper, staying a bit longer if comfortable. In Uttanasana, let your neck relax and your head hang freely. Gaze between your brows. 6.Use clear language while giving alignment cues. Will minimize confusion. 7.Use hands-on adjustments, modifications, props as needed. Encourage students to use props like straps, blocks to refine asanas. With students permission, give proper handson adjustments.
  • 44. 44 7.Honor safe biomechanics and safety while refining. As students explore going deeper and refining, guide gently, never compromising on safety. Encourage students to come out when they don't feel safe or stable. Encourage them to go back if they want. For example in a balancing pose, it is normal for students to sway and lose balance. Teach them to come down safely. 8. Pay attention to breathing. Proper breathing will help deepen a pose. In Uttanasana, exhaling while folding down will deepen the forward fold. Similarly, in a twist, inhale and lengthen, exhale
  • 45. and twist. Ask students to follow proper breathing as they refine. 8. Write an essay for 500 words about, How to Transitioning in and out, standing, sitting, supine and in inversion pose. Transitions are an important part of yoga practice. Transitioning into a pose: When transitioning into a pose, begin your instruction by preparing the 45
  • 46. 46 student by explaining the asana’s initial step along with the name of the asana transitioning into. Focus on the foundation of the asana, what is most connected to the floor and most immediately relevant to the spine and high risk areas like the knee. From the foundation explain other elements of the pose guiding the class step by step into it. Speak with clarity, be patient, give enough time and encourage students to be mindful . Proper transitioning out is an important step as more students are injured coming out than transitioning in or holding. First, the teacher has to
  • 47. 47 understand what is at highest risk in the transitional movement and give instructions to address that. In most asanas, this will start with bringing awareness to the foundation of the asana - typically, grounded legs and feet in a standing asana - and moving in a specific line which when activated will not put pressure on vulnerable joints like the knees and back. Transitions depend on the type of yoga style. Below are some examples of transitions in standing, sitting, supine and inverted asanas.
  • 48. 48 Standing asanas: In traditional Hatha Yoga, transitioning is usually from Tadasana. In Vinyasa, Flow, Ashtanga, transition usually is from Downward Dog or from another standing asana. E.g., In traditional Hatha, one transitions from Tadasana to Virabhadrasana 2 by taking a big step back, turning the back foot to 90 degrees, establishing the leg foundation, then raising arms to side, finally turning head.In transitioning out, remind students to keep their balance, bring hands down, and bring feet together paying attention to not twist their knee or back. In Vinyasa, one can go
  • 49. 49 from Downward Dog to Virabhadrasana 1 by bringing one leg forward between palms, lifting torso up, aligning legs and aligning hands and turning head last. Seated asanas: In traditional Hatha Yoga, transitioning is usually from Dandasana. In Vinyasa, Flow, transition can be from any seated asana. E.g., In traditional Hatha, one transitions from Dandasana to Janu sirasasana by bending one leg, taking the bent knee foot to the thigh of the other leg. Establish a stable foundation with legs on the
  • 50. 50 ground and then fold forward with head last. In transitioning out, safely lift head, hands and then move bent leg forward to Dandasana. Supine asanas: E.g., Jathara Parivartanasana. For supine asanas, transition into a pose by starting with lying flat on the back of the floor. Next stretch both arms, then raise legs and move them to one side. In transitioning out, go in reverse order, bringing legs back and down, then arms to side and rest on floor.