prevent student injuriesBy Bhavan Kumar

As yoga teachers, it is our duty to prevent student injuries! Hatha Yoga is an intense physical and mental exercise that yields high levels of conditioning and flexibility, especially when compared to other popular fitness techniques. However, if one’s practice is forced or strained, yoga has some potential for injuries as well. As a yoga teacher, there are steps you can take to prevent student injuries from happening in your classroom.

Yoga goes right to the heart of the matter with asanas that target very specific regions of the anatomy. That’s what makes yoga so unique. Because of this, forcing the body to go down into an asana before one is physically prepared or with improper alignment has a high potential for injury.

 

Developing Student Physical Awareness

Students, especially beginners, may have a hard time distinguishing between the feeling of pushing themselves further than they are used to and the sensation that warns them of an impending injury. Yoga classes for beginners must be designed to prevent student injuries and should be kept smaller, enabling you to catch students who are close to injuring themselves before it happens. Intermediate and advanced students will likely have developed enough body awareness to be able to guard themselves from injury, simply by listening to their bodies. As such, their class sizes can safely be larger.

The Myth of Advanced Postures

As the instructor, try to keep from assigning status levels to poses when speaking about them. No one wants to stay a beginner for long, and it’s human nature to want to hit the advanced levels as soon as possible. New students tend to view physical prowess as everything. Emphasizing the complete journey of the yogic path rather than the a physical goal will help your students keep their focus on what really matters in their yoga practice.

The Truth About Props

Props help us prevent student injuries, but practitioners don’t always look kindly at using them. Yoga teachers have the power to remove any stigma from prop usage by freely using props themselves. Telling your students that props are simply tools for getting the most out of yoga practice makes them seem like less of a crutch and more of an aid, which they are. If you use props when demonstrating, your students are going to feel very comfortable, when they use them.

 

About Students

No matter what Yoga teachers do, there will be students who insist on playing with their alignment in order to look like they are doing the same thing everyone else is. Rather than constantly addressing these students, find students in your class who are exemplary in the fact that they stress proper alignment in their yoga practice, even if that makes their asana look less skillful and polished as everyone else’s. These dogged yoga students deserve the praise, and it’s a great way to let other students know what you as a teacher value in a student. The student who constantly tries, works hard, and makes steady progress through practice should be recognized for his or her efforts.

Injuries are a risk with any physical activity, but that shouldn’t stop people from seeking higher levels of physical fitness to improve their health.

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