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  Teaching Hatha Yoga - Methods for Improving Student Motivation

Many times, a lack of student attendance has nothing to do with the Yoga teacher. For example: When students experience job changes, divorce, illness, a death in the family, or an automobile accident - these are circumstances, which are beyond the control of a Yoga instructor.

Yet, student motivation is an area where we can definitely help. The following are some methods for raising the motivation level in our students, in anyone we meet, and within oneself.

Record keeping, or documenting goals achieved, is a great way to measure our progress toward our objectives.

When students have a track record of all their successes in life, they become inspired and motivated. This not only applies to Yoga, but to life itself.
It is easy to lose the will to go on, if we believe we are not worthy of anything. One's inner vision can easily become so distorted, that we believe we are failures, and we do not deserve to succeed. If we believe anything about ourselves, it should be positive, inspiring, and raise our spirits.

Yoga must become a lifestyle for students to experience complete health. Students should be constantly reminded to practice Yoga at home, while traveling, or in any place they go. Sitting up straight, walking tall, and standing erect, are every day examples of correct posturing and proper alignment (asanas). Good posture can be practiced at any time.

The same can be said for Yogic breathing techniques (pranayama). We breathe all day; therefore, why not make a conscious effort to breathe correctly? Bastrika, Udgeeth, Nadi Shodana, Shitali, Ujjayi, Dirgha, and Kapalabhati pranayama can be practiced throughout the day. Granted, we may not want to practice all of them in a public place, but breathing correctly, and fully, will increase the quality of our lives.

Are students learning anything about Yamas and Niyamas in your classes? They do not have to learn them all at once. You could briefly cover one aspect, over the course a week, at the end of your class, or after meditation. This would give your Yoga students motivation and encouragement.

Mantra and Japa can be practiced mentally, at home, while traveling, or in between tasks. Regardless of religion, prayer is a universal concept. We live at a time when people say they are too busy to pray. They are busy working and making money. While it is true we need money to survive, it is false to claim we have no time for prayer.

Most Hatha Yoga classes do not discuss religion or prayer. In fact, praying and spiritual growth are not covered in detail, because there have been many conflicts over religion. Yet, the concepts and benefits of prayer are universal to all religions. Praying is good for spiritual health and motivation.

Making quiet time for a short meditation is something very few people do. Meditation can help us in many ways, but mental focus also brings about a new state of awareness, and the motivation to make positive changes.

Yoga teachers should also develop a handout - to cover living a Yogic lifestyle. This would provide information about the benefits of developing a 'home Yoga practice.' Students can then make healthy changes gradually, as a result of the information you provide.

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