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Jan. 31 2011 12:00 AM

Yoga continues to be one of the fastest growing exercises in America, and the exercise science field is finally catching up with the growing trend of yoga as a great form of functional fitness. We are seeing new books and workshops available each day relating to the anatomy, kinesiology and principles of alignment of these multi-joint, multi-planar exercises. Traditional yoga does not really exist anymore in the United States, but fitness styles of yoga are appropriate for fitness clubs and really simple to add to existing workouts. A well-rounded trainer needs to be well versed in yoga.

It's a lot easier to train a fitness instructor in yoga than it is to train a traditional yoga instructor in fitness. Group fitness instructors can embark by incorporating yoga postures into their already-existing classes; step, spin, kick boxing and aerobics. This provides an opportunity to get comfortable with a few basic postures. Whether hiring a teacher with a background in yoga or training current instructors, make sure to consider the following: Are they aware of the AFAA and ACE Safety Guidelines of Contraindications and how these relate to yoga? Have they been through a formal yoga teacher training? Are they comfortable DOING the postures? Are they comfortable TEACHING the postures?

One option for instructors to consider is safe yoga. Safe yoga differs from traditional yoga in that the postures link in a fluid heat-building way. Breath is linked with movement, heating the body naturally and organically. Rest is encouraged when necessary. Fitness moves are incorporated, such as sit-ups and push-ups, lunge and hold. Transitions are smooth, from pose to pose with a full body workout focus; all body parts are worked equally. Modifications and levels are offered to suit the needs of several different students at different levels in the room. Instructors speak in terms of or, either and modify, encouraging students to take breaks, let go of expectations, judgment and competition and not push past their limits.

Creating a space for yoga in a fitness facility is also not hard. The only equipment required is our bodies. If at all possible, dim the lights, turn off the air conditioning and choose music for active yoga, and yourre set to go.

Regardless of what workout you choose for your clients a good working knowledge of yoga is key to help your client balance in every way.

Beth Shaw, E-RYT, BS, CMT, is the president and founder of YogaFit. She has been showcased in numerous fitness magazines and shows including Oprah's O magazine, Time, CNN, NBC and more. Shaw is an animal rights activist and the innovative educator and entrepreneur responsible for more than 30 DVDs and CDs.