yoga teacher educationBy Sanjeev Patel, CYT 500

The following is Part Two of a continuous series of talks with my Guru, Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, at Aura Wellness Center in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Q: When teachers are researching for studies about health benefits, there are so many Yoga sites that still preach “no pain – no gain” messages. How can Yoga teachers differentiate between popular and safe methods?

A: There are many forms of Yoga; and all of them can be made safe for our students. Spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health factors are all important. Students are supposed to feel better, after participating in a Yoga class, than they did before entering.

If we look at pranayama, it seems safe enough; but it is very important to know that pushing pranayama techniques, too far, can be dangerous. Some students have specific health conditions. As a result, it is important for Yoga teachers to know each student’s state of health.

In the case of Kapalabhati pranayama, a student in perfect health can push too far. The results of over exertion, when practicing Kapalabhati, can be tingling in the fingers, toes, hands, feet, or lips. Students can also experience dizziness, slurred speech, nervous laughter, headache, chest pain, or fainting.

This is only one example of a pranayama contraindication. It is true that some Yoga teachers may laugh it off, because they never had it happen to them, or they may play it off as a sign of weakness. We can ignore contraindications for pranayama and asana, but that is negligent behavior on our parts.

If you only look at the role of a Yoga teacher as a guide, your prime responsibility is to safe guard student health during your classes. If your students are vomiting in your parking lot, after your classes, you are not helping them. The body need not go through a violent reaction to purge itself of toxins.

Researching reliable sources takes time. Some Yoga schools, and websites, have missed the importance of providing reliable information and protecting the welfare of all students. It is not difficult to spot a school, teacher, or website that has a “no pain – no gain” message.

Yoga students and teachers have a choice – to listen to common sense or to push themselves over the edge. If a student feels as if a Yoga class is a torture chamber, it is time to find another style or teacher. Yoga teachers, who endanger students for the sake of inflating their egos, should not be teaching.

© Copyright 2010 – Sanjeev Patel / Aura Publications

Sanjeev Patel is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.

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