By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Most Yoga teachers are certified instructors, who have gone through a lengthy training process, in order to be qualified to teach Yoga. If you have not already done so, you should look into Yoga teacher training courses to undergo the proper training to support your status as instructor. Typically, an advanced Yoga practitioner, who has years of experience, needs intensive training before being qualified to teach. However, even qualified Yoga instructors might be in need of strategies to help reduce, or prevent, injuries in their classrooms.
When Yoga Injuries Occur
Practitioners are most at risk for injury – when attempting a Yoga pose too challenging for their strength or health level, when doing a pose incorrectly, when not warmed up, or when distracted or unable to focus. As a result, Yoga teachers must remember that their primary job as instructors is not to perfect their own Yoga practice, but to keep their students focused, while they practice a variety of Yogic techniques safely.
Yoga Class Sizes
The size of of the class can impact an instructor’s ability to teach Yoga effectively. For example: If a beginner Yoga class is too big, the instructor may be unable to give enough attention to each student, as needed. As a result – beginner and youth classes should be smaller, with intermediate and advanced classes, allowing more Yoga students per session to balance business needs. Similarly, participation in athletic schools of Yoga makes injuries more likely, so teachers in these schools will see fewer injuries in classes that have smaller student-to-instructor ratios.
To prevent injuries from occurring, instructors need to be completely focused on teaching, especially paying attention to each student’s technique and alignment. Good correction tends to be in-depth and verbal, rather than physical, since students might lose their balance if you make the change for them or may be uncomfortable with physical correction.
What to Watch For
Yoga instructors should be on the lookout for certain behaviors to help prevent student injuries.
First – since Yoga injuries happen when students are distracted, teachers should be careful to guide their students in concentration techniques to encourage focus. Instructors should not hesitate to speak with a distracted student if the issue does not resolve quickly.
Second – since injuries also happen when Yoga practitioners push themselves beyond what they can handle, teachers should take care to emphasize a slow mastery of poses, and to demonstrate this themselves, with the free use of props. Some practitioners feel embarrassed using props or get frustrated, if they do not move on to more complicated poses quickly; therefore, Yoga instructors must take care to model the safest practice techniques themselves.
Third – instructors should watch for trembling or wobbling, especially in balancing poses, since this can indicate muscle fatigue or weakness. Encouraging students who are tired, or too fatigued, to rest will help them avoid injuries that result from incorrect Yoga techniques, improper alignment, or falling.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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