By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Safety, in practicing and teaching Yoga asanas, is very important. The human machine is designed to move, flex, and bend in very specific ways. If you move against that specific design, injury is likely to occur. As the practice of Yoga moves into the mainstream, Yoga classes are taught in a variety of settings to different groups of practitioners.
Yoga Student Diversity
Teaching Yoga asana safety, to these different populations, takes concrete knowledge of human anatomy, as well as sensitivity and awareness of each individual student’s needs. Some of the settings for Yoga classes are traditional studios, schools, and hospitals. Each setting will require a specialized set of skills, with knowledge of how to lead students in and out of Yoga asanas safely and enjoyably.
Many Yoga classes are taught in professional studios. The students, who attend classes at Yoga schools, may be beginning practitioners or seasoned Yoga practitioners. With such a wide diversity of Yogic aptitudes, a Yoga instructor at a studio must be able to guide both new students and veteran students, in and out of the asanas, in a safe and efficient manner. Special attention must be given to students who may be healing from an illness or injury. A firm knowledge of human anatomy, in addition to an awareness of the particular student’s capabilities and limitations, is crucial to teaching a safe and enjoyable class at a professional Yoga studio.
Yoga in Schools
Currently, the practice of Yoga is entering into the public school system. It is becoming well-documented that the practice of Yoga helps students to cope with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, concentration, and supports their general physical wellbeing. With so many benefits, there are Yoga teacher training programs that specifically prepare aspiring instructors to work with students from pre-school through college. These preparatory programs teach Yoga instructors how to lead students through a sequence of Yoga asanas in a safe, fun, and entertaining way. A six year old child must have fun during Yoga class or all bets are off!
Therapeutic Application of Yoga
The benefits of practicing Yoga are also becoming apparent to administrators of hospitals and rehabilitation facility settings. A Yoga instructor, who is teaching Yoga classes in these facilities, must be especially careful to teach the asanas in a very safe manner that honors the design, capabilities, and limitations of the human machine. Hospital patients, and patients who are recovering from a serious injury or illness, in a rehabilitation facility, can benefit tremendously from engaging in an appropriate sequence of Yoga techniques.
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