yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

If you teach a physical form of yoga, students who are new to you and your studio should never be placed in an advanced class without first verifying their individual fitness and flexibility levels on a one-on-one basis. There are a variety of dangers associated with participating in a physically advanced class before one is fully ready, and one of the primary responsibilities of a good yoga teacher is to protect their students from such things.

A student may fully believe that they practice yoga at an advanced level when in reality they do not. This is especially true of those who are used to practicing on their own at home. Yes, they may be capable of following along with an advanced routine on DVD, but there is no guarantee that their alignment is what it should be because they have been without the benefit of feedback from an instructor. These types of students would benefit the most from starting at a lower level and working their way up from there, learning proper alignment as they go. It is typically assumed that advanced students have all the basics of alignment down, so these self-taught students would never have the chance to fill in gaps in their knowledge. Students will be more than happy to start at what they view as a remedial level if they are assured that they will move up quickly due to the foundation they’ve already laid during their home practice.

Yoga can vary wildly from studio to studio, and what was considered “advanced” at a student’s previous studio may only be considered intermediate at yours. By first confirming an individual’s level of fitness, yoga teachers prevent potential injuries and embarrassment before they have the chance to occur. Trying and failing to keep up with a classroom of truly advanced students is a disheartening experience to say the least, and may be enough to turn some people away from yoga practice altogether.

Another danger of putting a new student in an advanced class is the very real possibility of burnout and exhaustion. A student may be fully capable of physically performing the advanced asanas but still lack the stamina to complete an entire class of such challenging poses. By measuring up new students in a private setting, they also are given the opportunity to evaluate themselves. The student may very well opt to start out in a beginner class if they find that they are growing fatigued during the evaluation.

Many yoga teachers allow new students to try out advanced classes without an evaluation because they worry that the potential client will simply choose to go to a different studio instead if forced to prove themselves first. In truth, studios look much more professional and appealing if they have such policies in place. Putting student safety first is the only way to run a successful yoga studio.

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