By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
How important is kinesiology education for yoga teachers? Kinesiology is the study of movement. It includes the study of all of the physiological mechanisms of the body. The study of kinetics is important in educational disciplines such as rehabilitation therapy, sports medicine, exercise, biomechanics, and orthopedics. Since Hatha Yoga is based on movement, it makes perfect sense that someone specializing in teaching a physical form of Yoga would be knowledgeable about the kinetics of the body.
More specifically, kinesiology is the scientific study of the body’s bones, joints, tissues, nerves, and muscles. The practice of Yoga focuses largely on moving the body into positions, which will strengthen and lengthen the joints and muscles. It seems that kinetics and Yoga go hand in hand. When you are teaching Yoga, you are teaching your students how to safely move the body into specific postures for specific results. A Yoga teacher must be knowledgeable about the way the different parts of the body work in conjunction with each other.
Kinesiology Education for Safety and Alignment
Imagine a scenario where you are teaching a class full of beginners how to perform Triangle pose for the first time. You will make sure that students get into a wide stance with proper alignment, and then turn the toes out to the proper degrees. Then students must focus on their hips, keeping them squared forward, and practice moving from the hips as opposed to leading with the shoulders or another body part. Once the hips are in place, students must reach with top arm upward, shoulders down and back. Finally, the Yoga instructor must convey how to reach out and down toward the front foot, while reaching up to the ceiling, opening up the chest, and cast the gaze upward.
That one pose covered nearly the whole body, from toes to head. As students learn to go into the pose, the Yoga instructor needs to be able to understand student limitations and adjust bodies accordingly. This not only requires knowledge of the pose itself, but knowledge of how the body works. If a student experiences pain or discomfort due to a pose, it is the Yoga instructor’s job to tweak the body to alleviate the discomfort. This requires knowledge of body kinetics.
Importance of Kinesiology Education
Kinetic knowledge is crucial background information for Yoga instructors. Although you might not always teach your students about specific tissues or joints, it is important in forming a general understanding of how human bodies work. One of the aspects of Hatha Yoga is to become more in touch with our bodies, so it just makes sense that a Yoga teacher should know the scientific ins and outs of the body.
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