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Instructor Limitations 2017-04-26T15:29:50+00:00

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Yoga Instructors: Would you like to network with fellow teachers worldwide? Here is a resource to find answers for every possible question regarding continuing education, improving your classes, student safety and much more.

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Instructor Limitations
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Forum Posts: 26
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September 16, 2010 - 5:08 am
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How shall we handle, as instructors, practicing yogis who come to us with severe injuries, disabilities, surgeries? For example, if someone comes into one of my classes who has had a spinal fusion at whatever level, I'm assuming it's best for me to direct them to another instructor who is more knowledgeable about this. However, if they do decide to stay for my class, how is this best handled? Not allow them in my class at all or simply direct them to absolutely not do certain of the poses for whatever their injury/disability/surgery?

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March 13, 2015 - 10:45 am
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Good question Cate..

Here are few things that might help you...

Yoga Empowers Seniors Study (YESS): Design and Asana Series

Insight From Injury

I am very happy to see you taking interest on fields that others are afraid touching.

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March 25, 2015 - 10:26 am
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Each student and injury are unique. A student should have a physician's approval before setting foot in a studio. Additionally, teachers who just don't know what to do with students who have ailments need to learn or send students to a teacher who can modify. Teaching is a learning process, but if you come from a style that is exclusively for athletes, students need to be in a class where a teacher understands contraindications and modifications. Otherwise, that student is put at risk.

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July 23, 2015 - 6:31 pm
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Many good points here. One point to mention is it takes time to learn body mechanics, how to modify, which asanas are contraindicated for a number of different conditions. When you are in doubt, don’t teach. For example: If you are not a prenatal yoga teacher, why take needless risks accepting pregnant students? You cannot please everyone.

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July 23, 2015 - 6:32 pm
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True ashmin,

If there is a need, or a large potential market in your area to include that you can contribute to the wellness of your community, you might consider taking classes for specializing for that sub-type.

These are Yoga that are mainly used as an adjunct Therapy in Medical Cases

Yoga and Alternative Health  -Both the meditative and the exercise components of hatha yoga have been researched for both specific and non-specific health benefits. Hatha yoga has been studied as an intervention for many conditions, including back pain, stress, and depression. In general, it can help improve quality of life, but does not treat disease

Cardiac Yoga  -is a system of stress management and health promotion designed specifically to focus on the needs of a heart patient. Cardiac yoga is basically artery gentle yoga exercises tailored to the special needs of people who have various cardiac problems, live with a cardiac condition or recover from cardiac diseases.

Chair Yoga   -is a gentle form of yoga that is practiced sitting on a chair, or standing using a chair for support. It is in the process of being recognized formally as a type of yoga distinct from other types, such as Iyengar Yoga or Ashtanga yoga. Often the poses, or Asanas, are often adaptations of Hatha yoga poses.

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July 25, 2015 - 11:48 pm
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No instructor is limited, unless one accepts that state of mind. My teacher has taught me to rely on the teacher within.

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September 7, 2015 - 3:25 pm
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I partially agree with you Ishrattaleem, but atleast they need to continue educating themselves before catering more high risks students... 

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September 11, 2015 - 4:56 pm
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Thank you Julie! I should have said experienced instructors and I agree with you about continuing education. I guess I meant to make the point that some of us are dependent, because we have allowed someone else to do the thinking for us.

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September 15, 2015 - 9:32 pm
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thank you for respecting my view, please keep those insights coming Laugh

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September 15, 2015 - 11:07 pm
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It's important for new teachers to know that none of us had the answers to everything when we started. It's been a while since I've been stumped, but when I find myself stuck, I talk to the local network of teachers or I send Paul an Email. Sometimes, I call him just to touch base. The important things are keep connected to a network, mentor and a continuing education program. This forum is one example of making a connection as well.

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October 16, 2015 - 8:32 am
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Great idea Lina 🙂 

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October 16, 2015 - 1:38 pm
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With all of the modern conveniences of having YouTube and other resources, we sometimes forget the most important part of teaching is to remain in contact with a mentor.  Really good point Lina.

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December 26, 2015 - 7:49 am
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One more point to mention for those who are studying, teaching and improving. Contraindications seem to freeze us in our learning process. The reason being: there are so many of them. Rather than experience angst, you would make better use of your time by researching them. 

A basic understanding of contraindications

Every teacher, advanced student, or even a beginner student hears the term “contraindications” once in a while during a yoga orientation or before learning certain types of asanas. Very few people actually try to understand the term since it disappears from the practice long before you get your head around what’s going on. It is important for every student to have a basic understanding of the contraindications since they are going to practice yoga for a long time.

For those who are completely unaware of what a contraindication (in terms of yoga) is, it is a condition a person may have (medical, physical, location) which makes several yoga asanas/positions or pranayama unsuitable since it may put you at risk. A very common example of a contraindication is pregnancy. Pregnant women cannot practice asanas, which require them to lie down on their tummy.

It becomes quite difficult to avoid harm to self by avoiding asanas or positions if you do not know about the probable contraindications. More often than not, there are ways to modify the asanas and make them suitable in order to address the issue of contraindication.

The most basic contraindications are listed below:

  • Glaucoma or any eye disease
  • Heart issues
  • Joint conditions
  • Spinal issues
  • Pregnancy
  • Blood pressure
  • A surgery that was performed recently

This is just a very general list of contraindications that every student and teacher should be aware of.

Examples of modifications one can make to avoid contraindications:

  • Lower back pain: Trying to keep the back straight while practicing forward bends in order to avoid further damage and pain.
  • High BP: For patients having high blood pressure, lowering of head below the level of heart can be dangerous and should be completely refrained from to avoid this contraindication.
  • Menstruation: To avoid this contraindication, ladies are advised to not perform inversions such as headstand or shoulder stand. Possibly back bends should be refrained from as well.

This is a basic understanding of the possible contraindications, which are found to be the most common ones among many others. Contraindications only rarely keep a person or practitioner from continuing the yoga practice. There is almost always a way to modify the asana in order to best fit his needs to minimize the harm or completely avoid it. Continuous increase in the popularity of yoga has resulted in plenty of inexperienced teachers. These teachers are not bad with the science; they just lack experience, which is required to teach. Teachers should be completely familiar with the contraindications so they can aid the students on how to continue their practice and help work out a modification for several asanas to avoid any sort of damage to the body.

Apart from teachers, students as well should be taught at least the most basic of contraindications so they can help themselves whenever they need to. All forms of yoga were developed to promote good health in every aspect. Class is not the only place where you can learn about contraindications. Students need to take charge of their own health. Research online for your own good and try to find out as much as possible about contraindications and the modifications those contraindications can be address with. Don’t just think about these issues when brought up in the class, it is must for every student to have knowledge of this subject as long as the yoga practice continues. Students practice yoga for benefiting their own body. To continue to derive benefits, students cannot be dependent on the teacher for everything. Become as knowledgeable as you can about matters like contraindications and live a healthy non-interrupted lifestyle for as long as you practice yoga.

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