Teaching Hatha Yoga: Student Safety in Yoga Classes

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Teaching Hatha Yoga: Student Safety in Yoga Classes

yoga Instructor trainingBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Although the general public might see many different styles of Yoga, in a variety of locations, Yoga is often categorized as a form of physical fitness. Some might go a bit further by classifying Yoga as a form of wellness or a mind and body exercise.

If you speak to the average participant, most of them would consider the chance of injury, during Yoga class, unthinkable. They have heard of injuries in high-impact classes, but Yoga falls into the low-impact category. Yoga is considered so gentle, that most participants strongly believe it cannot cause harm.

Consider this: Compare one hour of step aerobics to Yoga and your body notices striking differences. At the end of both classes, you feel great, but that is where the similarity ends. There is much creative movement in a step aerobics class, but the feet and legs take a repetitive pounding.

After a typical step aerobics class, your knees, ankles, and toes feel the repetitive impact from the floor. This can result in knee inflammation, stress fractures, shin splints, metatarsalgia (toe joint inflammation), plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the plantar fascia), sesmoiditis (inflammation of the two small bones below the first metatarsal – ball of the foot), bunions, or hammertoes.

However, none of the movements in a step aerobics class challenge the participant’s range of motion in the same way Hatha Yoga does. When you add movement or speed, to the equation, everything changes. When performing Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) or Vinyasa, Power, Ashtanga, and Flow sequences, there is much room for caution.

The following precautions are for teachers to implement for the safety of all students who participate in any form of Yoga with movement. Warm-ups should be practiced before the flowing sequences.

The older your students are, the longer a warm-up session should be. In general, students who are under 30 years of age should warm up from 10 to 15 minutes, regardless of their supposed expertise. Therefore, add some time when teaching students over 30 years of age.

When performing a flowing sequence, have your students perform the first round slowly. Make sure you observe all of your students carefully – even the students who gravitate toward the corners or the back of the room. Observing your students, at all times, in your class, is specifically for your students’ safety.

Your performance is for demonstration purposes only. When teaching Yoga classes, your responsibility is primarily geared toward student safety, and your personal practice is irrelevant.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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