about yoga student safety

By Gopi Rao

The practice of physical assisting or adjusting during yoga tends to receive a mixed review from students and teachers. While some students welcome the idea, others are more comfortable with verbal adjustments due to personal space. There are also teachers who are more at ease with verbal assisting instead of physical. However, the effect of achieving success through physical adjusting can be wonderful for the student and helps them reach a boundary they never knew existed. When communication is open between you and your student, physical adjustments are excellent ways to practice yoga. As long as you implement certain safety guidelines then there should be no room for errors.

First and foremost, knowing when to practice physical adjustments is the key in any lesson. For a beginner, it is usually best to avoid physical assists until the student has become more limber and is ready to push him or herself farther. When the student has achieved flexibility, then you can focus adjusting their foundation to help them connect with their inner core strengths. If you try to adjust the student too soon, it can lead to physical injury and discomfort.

After physically adjusting a student, it is crucial to their success that you observe them to see how they are responding. This will tell you whether or not you can help them go deeper into the pose. Check to see if the student is struggling. An obvious sign is blocked or shortness of breath. In order to go into a deeper pose, the student should be breathing even and steady. Their face should also be relaxed, and not scrunched up showing discomfort.

When you attempt a physical adjustment, it is pertinent that you do not take the student out of balance, and ensure you are also not out of balance. Make sure that you stabilize your posture, which is usually conducted most successfully in a lunge or squat. You should then attempt to stabilize your student. This will help them feel more secure, guarantee effectiveness, and ensure their own safety. Aside from balance, be aware of how resistant their body is. If you feel any resistance whatsoever, it is important that you stop and observe before proceeding with caution. You should also avoid pressing on any sensitive joints or along their spine.

How you present yourself as an instructor is very crucial to safety and comfort. Yoga teachers are urged to dress appropriately, meaning snug but comfortable fitting clothing. You should also have your hair swept up away from your face and out of the way. Personal hygiene such as dirty fingernails is obviously not allowed and dangling jewelry should be left off during class.

If you have researched physical adjustments before now, then you are probably aware of the controversial ideas that many have about the practice of assisting. Any time a person’s physical space is involved, it can lead to miscommunication and incorrect assumptions. When conducting physical adjustments, being on the same communication level as your student will make all the difference. Even if your student shows signs of being ready to advance their poses, they might not be comfortable with someone in their personal space. As a safety precaution, if you have not yet spoken with the student about being physically assisted, then it is best to use verbal teachings until then.

While your student is learning the art of yoga, remember that you may be learning how to properly physically assist. Do not rush this process, and start small. Even the most experienced instructors started physically adjusting their students in small increments until they worked up to more advanced poses. If you persevere with patience, while utilizing the safety guidelines mentioned, then you find that you have increased your skills in no time.

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