Yoga Teacher Training Forum
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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Namaskar Dear Ones,
Insight about yoga safety is needed. Although we may teach safely, any helpful ideas about safety guidelines for yoga students is a form of continuing education for all yoga teachers. Please contribute advice about any safety situations, which you have seen.
Students - don't be bashful. If you had a good or bad yoga safety experience we want to know. This thread could grow into a useful resource for teachers and students alike.
Peace be with you, Juli
I went to a great Yoga studio in San Francisco where students could take a little token (from a fish bowl on the counter) and place it on their mat if they did not desire an assist. So the teacher could see in class who did not desire assisting. I think this was a great idea and didn't draw attention to anyone, as it was very subtle. Does any one have any experience with something like this? Any ideas on what could be used as "tokens" that could be available?
I think that's a great idea and I have seen a studio use cards from a deck for the same reason. My feeling is each student has reasons for not being touched, but at the same time new students should have a check in process. The reason is that some yoga classes have much more assisting than others. If a person didn't want to be adjusted, my first suggestion is stay away from the Iyengar and Restorative classes. The point is some students are so new, they need a little guidance in the best direction that suits them.
One of the biggest problems with student safety is a student who has an existing health problem, but hasn't made anyone aware of it. Also, students who the staff already knows should let their yoga instructor or the studio manager know if they have changes in their health conditions.
Improving Yoga Student Safety
In general, Hatha yoga is not a dangerous activity, but it can lead to injury if a student is not practicing it safely. Adults who take yoga classes have a better ability to recognize problems with their own body than most adolescents who practice in yoga classes, but there is always the possibility that both youths and adults will ignore problems when they do recognize them. With this in mind, it is vital for a yoga instructor to recognize signs of complications in their students, and they must be able to kindly but firmly stop students if they are practicing yoga in a dangerous manner.
Improper yoga practices can lead to muscles straining or tearing, joint pain and instability, and even minor bone fractures. The injuries that are most commonly induced by yoga tend to linger for long periods of time; an injury that seems minor could cause pain or discomfort for months, or even years. It is the job of a yoga teacher to impress the importance of injury prevention onto their students. One of the best ways to improve yoga student safety is to make them more aware of the risks and the results of those so that they may better understand why they must be aware of their safety.
There will always be a chance that someone in the class will still ignore the warnings of the teacher, so it will always be a part of a yoga instructor's job to be constantly watching for unsafe practices within their classes. Therefore, it is best for teachers to implement methods of keeping a close eye on their students. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Adding an additional instructor, or experienced students designated as assistants, increases the visibility of the students and potential safety issues to the teacher of the class.
Offering smaller classes has many benefits, but not least of all is the decreased ratio of teacher to students that ensures that the teacher can watch all of their students more closely. Smaller classes also mean that the students in the class have more personal space, which decreases the risk of injury within the classroom overall. A smaller class size also leads to the students feeling more comfortable with their peers, and this could prevent them from hiding potential injury out of concern for what the other students will think, as this can unfortunately influence them in that way.
Preventing Back Injuries in Yoga Asana Practice
The healing exercises that yoga encompasses are extremely beneficial in helping people who suffer from regular back pain. Unfortunately, back injuries are among the most commonly sustained problems from the improper practice of yoga. The primary reason that students succumb to back injuries is a level of pride that does not allow them to recognize when they are having difficulty. Most yoga-related back injuries could have easily been avoided entirely if the injured person had recognized that they were pushing themselves too far.
To accomplish this, students should be encouraged to become in tune with their bodies. The more familiar a student is with the natural processes and normal feelings of their body, the more likely they are to recognize when they are asking their body to do more than it is capable of doing comfortably. Yoga is relaxing and promotes healthy functioning, which can sometimes trick students into believing that they are putting less strain on their body than they actually are. It can be difficult for some, particularly new, students to recognize the subtle signs of stress that their body presents.
Beginning the practice of yoga with simple warm ups may seem repetitive and unnecessary, but it is a good way of preparing your body for the more tenuous stretching involved with yoga poses. It is very easy to stretch the body past its limits if it is not warmed up prior to use, just as it is with more traditional forms of exercise, but this is something that many students do not realize.
Yoga is a form of exercise that can be quite strenuous at times, so it is vital to treat it as an exercise routine. In terms of this, students must know their own personal limits, and they should not be encouraged to push these too far. Stretching or bending in an unnatural way can cause back injuries, particularly in the lumbar region, and avoiding this is key in preventing back injuries.
The use of props can help in preventing back pain when asana is practiced. Using an object, such as a chair, table, or even a scarf, to support the body is a good method of avoiding back injuries. During stretches or poses that focus on the back, it can become overwhelming for a student to try to keep their own balance and stance level. Props not only support the body, but also allow students to focus more on the way they feel.
How to Prevent Common Yoga Injuries: Injuries may happen at any time and to anyone who performs yoga if he is not careful. Learning yoga should be done in the hands of an experienced professional instructor. By training with an instructor, you will be able to learn efficiently and safely. Aside from learning yoga techniques only from a professional, there are more ways to prevent common yoga injuries.
1. Do not overexert yourself. Stop comparing your movements to anyone in the room. Remember that each student is unique and each one has his own learning curve. Overexerting just to look great in front of others will only lead to pain and even terrible injuries.
2. Take a lesson at a time. Yoga is a succession of movements and therefore you must master basic techniques first before you proceed with complicated movements. You must master basic poses together with appropriate breathing so you can use efficient muscle movement as you perform different poses.
3. There are numerous yoga props so use them! Props are designed to perform yoga poses safely and efficiently. Props like wedges, bolsters, blocks, sandbags and foams are necessary to help students prevent injuries and pains and to ensure that they are performing various yoga poses accurately. A perfect example is the basic forward bend which could lead to back pains and a pulled hamstring if a student is not careful. Using a wide strap to anchor the foot as you pull your back closer could reduce these injuries significantly. Still another prop like a bolster could also assist students in a seated forward bend. A bolster prevents overexertion of the back and the legs as it supports the chest area when you make a forward bend.
Your instructor will definitely discuss what the basic yoga props are and demonstrate the proper uses of each prop for different poses; you should listen carefully and take note.
4. Use safety yoga props always. Your yoga mat is not just a mat to keep you clean as you perform poses on the floor. It is also designed to keep you on your foot and to prevent slips and falls as a result of doing different yoga poses. If you are performing yoga outdoors, wear simple footwear and do not attempt to go barefoot. A cushioned running shoe would suffice and if you are training on pavement, bring your yoga mat to protect your back and head as you lie down.
5. Avoid eating a full meal before your yoga class. Eating will only divert blood flow to the stomach and the digestive organs instead of being utilized by the muscles. The result is weak and inefficient muscles which may hardly be able to handle the huge demands of extreme yoga poses. There will also be less oxygen to the brain as a result of diverting blood to the digestive organs; you will feel weak, sleepy and tired which places you at risk of suffering from different injuries.
6. Keep to the position or the pose and do not alter anything. Poses are made for a particular reason and you can greatly increase your risk of suffering from an accident or injury when you do not follow steps and instructions carefully.
7. When training yoga at home using a DVD or from an online video, be sure to start with the basic moves and poses. Rely on quality videos created or published by known yoga masters and instructors. There are a lot of yoga self-help learning materials online and offline but you should always pick the best.
8. Aside from yoga, you should also practice other strategies to keep you safe and secure while learning different poses. One important technique is deep breathing. Deep breathing is a strategy that will allow more oxygenated blood into the different body systems especially the muscles, bones, ligaments, joints and all parts of the body that are involved in movement. By ensuring that all these tissues and organs are well-oxygenated, you will be able to perform yoga poses with ease. Deep breathing is also a form of meditation to help yoga practitioners make the most of mind and body healing in yoga. When deep breathing is efficiently used in yoga, you will be able to easily perform poses and movements as well.
Yoga studio accidents waiting to happen: The holistic yoga therapy is a non competitive slow paced physical activity with numbers of health benefits but it does not mean that harm or accidents may not take place during practice. Likewise any other sport or workout routine injuries or accidents may happen sometimes due to negligence or other reasons.
As reported in a study conducted in Finland year 2008, this survey report included around 300 yoga studios in which approximately 1.18 injuries or accidents are observed to happen for every 1000 hours during practice. In another survey conducted in Australia year 2012, among 2,500 practitioners around 2.4% experienced injury or any accident. There are many factors that contribute to cause accidents in yoga studios or classes, some of them are discussed below.
At present time lots of centers, retreats and studios are running successfully, they offer yoga sessions in a safe and peaceful environment. It is necessary for a studio owner or teacher to keep yoga studio or room well ventilated, hurdle free and clean with a moderate temperature for performing normal yoga session. The surface of the area should be leveled and contain even flooring to prevent falls. Tidiness of practicing area is very much important and is responsibility of owner or teacher to maintain cleanliness of space before and after every session. In particular yoga mats should be neat, dirt and dust free because during practice sweat droplets splatter on mats and results in bad odor or tackiness. All the objects used during practice for modifications and adjustments like blocks, bolsters, straps, cushions and chairs should be placed at one side allocated for these materials and accessible easily when required. To prevent practitioners from tripping and tangling up in this stuff, advise students to put them in their proper place after using.
To avoid accidents in studio the owner should talk about rules and regulation along with safety guide lines for practitioners to follow before enrolling them. These instructions may include keeping studio floor free off dirt by avoiding water spills and eating in class, wearing proper yoga clothing and removing outdoor foot wear before entering in class etc. Another important point that should be kept in mind to avert accidents in studios is of maintenance and upgrading necessary yoga equipments time to time which are mostly used in class. These equipments may tear after frequent use such as mats lose their grip after sometime, blocks fall apart and straps become thin. To prevent severe incidents studios should be fully equipped with safe and secure electrification system to prevent short circuits with emergency exit, fire alarm system and fire extinguishers placed in easily accessible corners.
An overcrowded class may become reason of mental or physical suffocation and occurrence of accident because for the duration of practice every individual needs enough space to perform correct body posture and breathing techniques. The teacher also requires some space to walk around class and check students therefore it is better to enroll students according to their appropriate levels in varied classes. One of the main reasons behind happening of mishap in studio is when practitioners don’t manage their body limitations or having some health related issues. The teacher and owner of the studio should be aware or have complete information about physical limitations, weaknesses and ability of practicing workout of every registered student so that they can do their best to prevent risk of accidents.
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