Teaching Hatha Yoga Postures with Mindfulness and Safety

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Teaching Hatha Yoga Postures with Mindfulness and Safety

Yoga Teacher trainer making an assistBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How much attention, to proper alignment, do you see in Yoga classes? How fast is the pace of the class? Are students being asked about pre-existing injuries before participating in a Yoga session?

Proper alignment, while practicing, is so important because of the benefits over time. At the same time, poor alignment can cause injuries. Yoga should be taught by a competent instructor, who is watching participants perform a given technique.

Yoga teachers should demonstrate how a technique is to be performed. At the same time, teachers should observe their students perform that specific technique. At no time should teachers take their eyes off their students and relax. The teacher’s experience is in stark contrast to that of the student.

Teaching Yoga posture (asana), or breathing techniques (pranayama), requires a sincere effort to guide students safely. This brings to mind an issue, which is of prime importance: Is the pace of the class geared toward the level of the student? How many Sun Salutations or Vinyasa sequences start with a slow and mindful pace?

The reason why a series of postures should be performed slowly, on the first few rounds, is so that students are reminded of proper alignment. Experienced students, who have left their practice aside for months, or years, should not jump into a class without a refresher class that is geared toward beginners.

This may sound prudent, but no student should be allowed to compromise established safety precautions. Letting a student arrive late, and thereby skipping the warm-up component of a class, is a risky policy. If that same student is injured, due to by-passing warm-ups, who will be blamed for it?

This leads to another issue, which Yoga studios are very casual about – the establishment of firm policies to avoid injuries. For example: You should post student policies on your bulletin board, on your website, as well as hand them out to new students.

In your application process, you should inquire about pre-existing injuries. If a student has a pre-existing neck injury, aneurism, or glaucoma, a Yoga teacher would not want to put a student at risk of worsening his/her present condition.

In the case of a new student, who arrives late for the first class, that person should not be admitted to the practice. The reason being – how would a Yoga teacher know anything about the health of a student, who the teacher has never had a chance to talk with prior to that class? If this student has any pre-existing health conditions, everyone is put at risk, as the student’s well-being, the Yoga studio, and the Yoga teacher’s career, are all in jeopardy.

All of this adds up to setting firm safety policies in place. At the same time, Yoga teachers should continue their education and be prepared for a variety of diversified situations.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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