yoga certificationBy Jenny Park

Yoga has become more popular worldwide in the last two decades, with classes popping up in gyms, and fitness and community centers across the country. Its popularity is exciting to those of us who have been reaping the benefits for years and want to “share the wealth.” However, along with its newfound popularity comes an increase in yoga-related injuries. In some cases, inexperienced students might be pushing themselves too far, and in other instances yoga instructors might not be doing the best job of educating participants on potential risks of each pose. Both instructors and students need to make sure they are doing all they can to prevent injuries when practicing yoga.

Students should always check with their doctor before beginning any type of exercise regime to make sure they aren’t putting themselves in a risky situation. Although yoga is beneficial for many types of ailments, high blood pressure, arthritis, back soreness, and more, it is still important to be aware of the potential risks. Pregnant women can also participate in yoga right through the last trimester, but they should always be aware of poses that could cause injuries and learn how to modify them. Since not all yoga students show obvious symptoms, like pregnancy, it is their responsibility to let the instructor know of any specific concerns so the instructor can guide them accordingly.

Although instructors share some of the responsibility of keeping their students safe, it is impossible for them to know every malady of every student. It is therefore important for instructors to educate themselves thoroughly on the common risks associated with each pose, as well as modifications. Yoga instructors should make modifications a part of the routine, by casually mentioning them during each pose, and while walking around to help specific students obtain proper form.

Self-awareness is a large part of any yoga practice. Students should be taught to listen to their bodies, breathe through each pose, and adjust when they feel discomfort. It is the instructor’s job to emphasize this importance, as well as the idea that yoga is not a competition, and there is no wrong way to practice the poses, when they are modified for the student’s body. Whatever feels right to each person is right for that person. People should always avoid comparing themselves to others, or the instructor. Yoga instructors should be sure to create a comfortable class atmosphere where people feel free to practice yoga that will benefit them. Yoga student injuries can happen at home or in a class, but prevention based safety guidelines and compassionate education will reduce the chances.

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