Teaching Hatha Yoga – General Guidelines for Contraindications

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Teaching Hatha Yoga – General Guidelines for Contraindications

yoga instructor education programsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

What is a contraindication for a Yoga technique? Why should teachers and practitioners be familiar with them? Let’s look closely at how knowledge of contraindications in the physical practice of Yoga can help you prevent potential injuries.

What exactly is a contraindication for a Yoga technique? A contraindication is a factor which makes a Yoga technique inadvisable. These Yoga techniques are postures (asanas) or Yogic breathing methods (pranayama). The reasons they become inadvisable are related to people with specific health conditions performing techniques, which put them at risk.

A classic example of this would be a student who has glaucoma and performs inverted postures. Due to his or her condition, with glaucoma, there is a risk of going blind, from performing an inverted Yoga posture. Whether a Yoga teacher or student does not know the contraindication, or ignores it, the potential for risk is the same.

Why should instructors and practitioners be familiar with contraindications? There are many contraindications in Yoga, and teachers should research all of them to avoid putting students in harm’s way. In the case of students: Be familiar with the state of your health. Get an annual physical and learn about your precise health condition.

Let your teacher know if you have a medical condition, and make sure that you have done your research about contraindications for your particular health condition. You only have one body. Do not put yourself at risk, when it is common sense to avoid a technique.

In summary, if you teach Yoga and learn of a new contraindication, which is related to any condition, do not ignore it – research it! Find out why and how the contraindication is related to body mechanics. It is better to be safe and too cautious, rather than risky, when it comes to safety.

If your students demand to take risks, advise them to participate in sky diving, skiing, hang gliding, roller coasters, and other activities that give them an adrenaline rush. Yoga, of every form, was designed to enhance every aspect of good health.

It is a great feeling to bond with students and become a “fun Yoga instructor.” It is quite another feeling to realize you put a student in danger for the sake of entertainment. A competent teacher has responsibilities – to make sure sessions are safe. Your classes can be fun, but they should always be safety oriented.

Ahimsa, the first Yama, comes to mind. As teachers and instructors, we pledge to avoid harming other beings, especially our students. Every ethics agreement, for Yoga teachers, should mention Ahimsa in relation to Yoga classes, which simply means: “Be sure that your classes are safe.”

© Copyright 2009 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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