By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Q: What is your opinion on practicing yoga beyond ones personal edge? I was speaking with a yoga teacher who said that it is indeed good to encourage students to move beyond their edge… to stretch themselves further. I questioned this… she said that in moving beyond ones edge you are eventually better able to relax into the pose. I never looked at it this way. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

A: I sense that you want a confirmation of common sense. To be honest, advising students to push beyond their personal edge is a liability suit waiting to happen. This teacher has probably never been injured before, but she will eventually advise someone into injuring their joints.

The problem is joint injuries do not forgive us for foolishness. Our personal edge is surrounded by pain. Therefore, we should never push into it or try to push beyond it.

A competent Yoga teacher should encourage students to respect their personal limits without using force. Everyone should be able to accept their personal limits without engaging in self-criticism. Non-judgment and non-harming are Yogic principles, which should apply to ourselves and others.

Q: My other question… I have taken yoga classes in the past where the teacher simply announces at the end of the practice to come into Savasana and lie quietly for ten minutes. I find it hard simply to come to a place of relaxation without some guidance. This teacher would on occasion leave the room for the entire period of Savasana. I found that very uncomfortable. Again, your thoughts would be appreciated.

A: In the second instance – This is a clear sign, this teacher does not see the needs of the students as a priority. I have heard of this, but have never witnessed a teacher walking out of a “guided” meditation or relaxation.

This is much like turning your back on your students during the physical Yoga practice of asana and pranayama. It tells the students, “I don’t care.” It also sends a message that guided meditation and relaxation are not important to the Yoga teacher, who is running the class.

In each instance, these teachers should know better.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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