måndag 31 maj 2010

The four essential concepts that a teacher of yogasana must embrace

The four essential concepts that a teacher of yogasana must embrace

Dona Holleman has introduced four concepts that she considers vital for teachers of yogasana, some of which she has borrowed them from Japanese martial arts and classical riding:

1) being centered in hara
2) being proactive
3) being durchlässig
4) having Schwung


A skillful teacher of yogasana, says Dona Holleman, must be centered in hara. Hara is a Japanese martial arts term, equivalent to the lower of the three dantian in Traditional Chinese Medicine, a name for the "center of being". Referring to the center of gravity on the physical level, it also denotes the seat of the soul on the spiritual level. The hara is found in the lower abdomen, in the center of the pelvis, between the navel and the pubis.

A disturbance of the hara throws the body out of balance and as a result the mind and the senses become imbalanced.

The performance of yogasana is to redistribute the different body parts around the hara.

However, the center of gravity or hara has not only a balancing function from a physical point of view but it also has a mental and emotional stabilizing effect.

A person who is stable in hara remains sound on an intellectual, mental, emotional and physical level.

To be proactive

A proactive person is always one step ahead in whatever they plan to do. A reactive person, on the other hand, is someone who has no plan and can only act by reacting.

A proactive teacher is aware of consequences of their actions. They have exhaustive knowledge of the benefits and risks of a yogasana that is to be performed. They are aware of the abilities and limitations of the student on a mental, emotional and physical level. In this way accidents are prevented.

Durchlässig and its opposite, the resistance reflex

Durchlässig is a concept that Dona Holleman has borrowed from classical riding. It means "letting through" and refers to a horse that is well trained, accepts the rider's aids and willingly performs the rider's commands.

Its opposite is the resistance reflex. Existing in all living creatures it is an instrument of survival. It can, though, create problems, when we want to explore new things, learn a new yoga pose, for example, or change our habitual way of thinking or get rid of unwanted emotions.

The resistance reflex originates in fear and fear is something innate. The teacher must be aware of this phenomenon in themselves and in their students. They must be able to teach each new yoga pose in a way that doesn't create a resistance in the student.


Schwung, also being a concept of classical riding, implies speed and strength, to be able to move forward on all levels.

A teacher with Schwung has the ability to arouse the enthusiasm and inner energy needed for the student to move forward.

All three concepts discussed here originate in the hara. The teacher must first and foremost be centered in their hara.

The teacher as a role model

It is the duty of a teacher to study the body from all aspects and to apply this knowledge in their teaching of yogasana.

The teacher must be able to transfer the knowledge to the student in a simple and clear manner. This involves in-depth knowledge of the component parts of the asana as well as the anatomy and physiology of the human body.

Emotions are transferable. Sadness, for example, is contagious, as is laughter. As teachers we must take care that we don't absorb other people's negative feelings. And also not project negative feelings onto our students.

The teacher is a role model. According to Dona Holleman, the human body is a copying machine. It copies what it sees and it is the responsibility of the teacher to present a sound picture so that the body of the student can copy it.

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