Can Yoga teachers create policies for preventing back injuries in class and why should they? Suddenly the yoga world is abuzz with concern over potential injuries. Why is the warning flag suddenly flying? Well, a few reasons come to mind.
1. The practice is growing unbelievably fast, and larger numbers equals more problems. Yoga teaches us to be proactive and some instructors have developed classroom procedures to maintain safe sessions.
2. It is popular with older people, therefore creates more risk of injury, when students are not placed in a class that is developed around the needs of the student. In other words: The hot, bootcamp, power or fitness based class might not be the best choice for every student.
3. The rate of experienced, trained, and educated instructors is not keeping up with demand. For example: A student with heart problems should be working with a yoga instructor who has experience and teaches a style that will meet the needs of the student. New teachers should be working on continuing education in order to meet the needs of students and to know how to keep students safe.
4. People still want a quick fix; pushing too hard and too fast is not the way to begin a yoga practice. Instructors need to talk with students who put themselves in harm’s way.
5. Overcrowded classes make it difficult for teachers to assess every student. Some classes are so big that there is a need for one or two assistants to be present.
Yoga is still by far one of the safest and most beneficial activities that a person can engage in. However, like any good thing, it is sometimes pushed to the extreme level, and that is never a good thing.
If you have ever had a back injury, then you know how critical a healthy back is to the human body. Yoga is a great way to strengthen the back. The key is beginning with a gradual and gentle approach.
Postures for Preventing Back Injuries
• Cat-Cow Pose: A wonderful gentle warm-up for the spine is the combination of cat and cow pose. This posture is excellent for increasing the flexibility in the lower back.
• Child’s Pose: You can easily move into child’s pose from cat-cow pose. This will effectively act as a counter stretch and ease any tension in your back.
• Half Lord of the Fishes: Beginners start gently and lengthen your spine by lifting your chest. Start with a slight twist and over time, you can work into a full twist.
• Seated Forward Bend: Use a yoga strap around your feet, which will help you to eventually move into a full forward bend.
• Standing Forward Bend: Slightly bend your knees when doing this posture.
• Locust Pose: This is a great pose to prepare your back for more advanced backbend poses.
• Cobra: If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, the cobra will help alleviate the pain resulting from staying hunched over for hours at a time.
Other tips for preventing back injuries are to keep your spine elongated and use your abdominal muscles. It is also wise to wait until you have successfully strengthened your back before attempting more complex asanas such as wheel, plow, and even camel. Preventing back injuries is an important part of teaching and it is possible when instructors remember that our classes are for the students. Student safety is priority number one.
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