By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
What should teachers and students know about safety tips? There is so much that is good about establishing a routine Hatha Yoga practice. Yoga posture safety must be considered at all times. Any form of Yoga can be practiced at home alone, at the beach, in a park, with a friend, or in a studio, with a hundred other people of like-mind. Yoga can be, and is, enjoyed by children and seniors alike. It is health-giving, centering, relaxing, nurturing, and just plain fun.
However, even though Hatha Yoga is a gentle practice, and anyone can do it, it should be practiced safely, for the sake of avoiding injury. The fact is – we can injure ourselves at the dinner table if we take risks and refuse to pay attention to what we are doing. The following are four Yoga posture safety tips, to always keep in mind, in order to have the very best possible experience for many decades to come.
Yoga Posture Safety Tips
1. First, be completely aware of the body’s limits. An attentive Yoga instructor notices when a student is tight in his or her body, or when a student is pushing to excess. For teachers, it is wise to give a reminder that being kind to the body, and approaching the practice with a gentle mind, is the path of Yoga.
2. Along these same lines, Yoga students sometimes need to be reminded that Yoga is not a competition. We live in a very competitive world. A student trying to match, or exceed, the veteran Yoga practitioner, standing next to him or her, is a likely occurrence. Accepting the mindset of being exactly where one is at this moment, and not to compete, may be difficult for the new Yoga student. Still, full awareness of the present is a central piece of Yogic philosophy, which will serve students throughout their lives, as well as in many applications toward daily life.
3. Clothing needs to be comfortable, both physically and psychologically. If clothing is binding, it is not healthy for the part of the body it binds and may contribute to injuries when trying to get into Yoga postures. On the other hand, clothes that are too loose, and feel exposing in some poses, can take one’s mind off the practice. Not being mindful can lead to unsafe movement.
4. Bare Yoga feet are safe feet. The only exception to this is – socks that are specifically made for Yoga practice. Feet can slip – even on a Yoga mat – when wearing regular socks. The Yoga practitioner will also feel more agile and flexible with bare feet. Your bare toes are able to completely stretch out, flex, and grip the mat, as necessary. There is also a grounding and healing energy flow, when bare hands and feet are in contact with the floor.
However, it must be noted that some practitioners wear Yoga socks, which grip the floor. There are a number of reasons for this. Some students may have skin diseases, diabetes skin lesions, or another justified reason for wearing nonslip Yoga socks. For students, who need to wear specialized socks, it might be wise to avoid Hot Yoga classes because the mats tend to get wet with perspiration. Yoga teachers, who have classes at moderate temperatures, should have no problem with students who wear specialized socks designed for Yoga.
Mindfulness, in employing a few basic safety procedures, during asana practice, allows for the full richness of the practice to students and instructors alike.
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