yoga school for teaching skillsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When should Yoga teachers consider specialist training? The answer lies within the needs of students with whom you work. Whether it is a specialized group, or an individual student, each Yoga instructor has his or her limits when considering teaching students with special needs. Below is a case, where networking and continuing education are the keys to the therapeutic application of Yoga.

Q: I teach Hatha Yoga in a rural area. A few students have asked me for private lessons for back issues. One couple, in particular, both had back surgeries and their doctors recommend Yoga. I’ve got a Mayo Clinic back care Yoga DVD and a couple of older back care yoga books, but I was wondering if you have any advice or recommendations – or if I should say “no.”

From my location, it is a long way for my students to travel for any other Yoga instruction. I am the most experienced “local Yoga teacher” and would love to create a “private practice” or get more experience and exposure, but definitely want to do the right thing. Again, any ideas, advice, recommendations?

A: About working with students who have special needs: If you are the only Yoga teacher in town, research the ailment, and see if you feel comfortable with your knowledge. Consider networking with local doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors. Be honest about what you know and what you do not know.

Tell your students what they should realistically expect from a private session with you. We know that a steady practice of Hatha Yoga sessions will help students, who need to take care of their backs. In fact, there is a need for back care basics for most adults. In areas where adults sit at home, in transit, and on the job, the need for back maintenance is compounded.

Regardless of where we live, the aging process is a reality. As we age, our muscles tighten, bones decrease in density, the range of motion within joints becomes shorter, muscle mass decreases, tendons and ligaments shorten, and articular cartilage degeneration occurs.

However, when practicing asanas, the movements within typical Hatha Yoga sessions lubricate the spine. The spinal discs begin to absorb nutrients. Many of us do not realize these discs are composed of a soft inner core and a tougher outer portion. The composition of discs may be figuratively comparable to a jelly doughnut or a pillow.

A gentle Yoga practice works as a maintenance program for the spine. With all that said – if you do not feel confident that you can meet their needs, you should recommend that they travel to a specialist for Yoga, chiropractor, or physical therapist.

If traveling is a hardship, continuing education, through online Yoga teacher courses, will help you and your students. If you need to learn more about therapeutic applications of Yoga, anatomy, or working with students, who have special needs, a correspondence course will enable you to help the public and improve your teaching skills.

© Copyright 2010 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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