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What Can Yoga Teachers Do to Improve Safety? 2017-04-26T15:29:50+00:00

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What Can Yoga Teachers Do to Improve Safety?
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December 27, 2016 - 2:08 pm
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When they are performed correctly, the gentle stretches and movements of yoga are perfectly safe and can even help people recover from minor injuries. On the other hand, you can never assume that injuries won't happen during your yoga classes. Yoga is a physical activity, and all physical activities carry the potential of minor or even serious injuries.

As a yoga instructor, it is your responsibility to make sure that your classes are as safe as possible for your students. Here are just a few things that will help you with that.

Be Aware of All of Your Students

The safety of your students should always be your number one priority. When you demonstrate an asana and instruct your class to try it, take some time to walk around the room and make sure that everyone is performing the pose correctly. Never assume that your students can handle the most "basic" poses; you most likely will have some first-timers and novices who don't know them yet. Coach them to perform them correctly and safely.

Never Push Your Students

Many yoga injuries occur because people push themselves too hard in class. They attempt poses that are too difficult for them, or they hyperextend themselves because they think they should be more flexible than they are. Yes, there are "right" ways to perform certain poses, but not everyone has gotten to that level yet. Your students can get to that level, but only if they work their way up to it. Encourage your students, but don't let them think that there is any shame in not performing an asana perfectly right away.

Understand that Injuries Happen

Even when your class is as safe as possible, understand that the occasional injury will still happen. People tend to think of yoga as some kind of perfect practice, and any injury that occurs in a class is the student's fault. You should have this attitude in your class. Every person is different, and everyone has their own limitations. Even the healthiest person can be hurt while doing something as simple as taking a walk; having people stretch their bodies and put themselves into what are essentially unnatural positions will result in the occasional injury.

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December 28, 2016 - 12:06 pm
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Good Points DCalvert!

Here are some Guidelines for Safer Yoga Classes:

As teachers and students, we have a responsibility to practice yoga mindfully and safely. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, it is always important to remain healthy and safe so that you can continue your practice for many years to come. To keep your students uninjured and enjoying class, keep these guidelines in mind.
 
Encourage Students to Warm-Up
 
As with any sort of physical activity, jumping in without being prepared can cause serious pain and injury. Before class, you and your student's muscles will be cold and stiff. Warming up, light stretching, and slowly preparing your body for class can make a world of difference.
 
Allow Students to Modify Positions
 
Naturally, people have different bodies, capabilities, and are at different places in their practice. It is important to let students know their practice is their own; only they know what is right for their bodies.
 
Teach to Who is in the Room
 
Not to the sequence in your head. As a teacher, especially if you have been doing it for a number of years, it can be easy to go on autopilot, relying on the same sequences and wording. We must try to be present for each and every class and truly see our students.
 
Offer Hands-On Assistance
 
This gains the full attention of your students. When teaching, you have the option of using your voice and using your hands. Hands-on attention can help students to deepen their pose or assist those who may be struggling to understand the alignment. This allows students to stay safe while in class and gives them the knowledge to stay safe when they are practicing out of class.
 
Keep it Simple
 
Sometimes the biggest challenge can be in simplicity. Keep your sequence crisp, your words clear, and your class still. Teaching simple classes forces students to pay attention to their breath, essential alignment, and focus, rather than straining themselves physically or competing with their neighbors. 
 
Preach Patience
 
Everything takes time, this includes yogic practices. By encouraging students to be patient with themselves in their practice, you will keep them from pushing themselves before they are ready and seriously injuring themselves. Tell students to focus on their breath and allow progress to happen naturally.
As long as you and your students are present, connected with your bodies, and focusing on your breath, you can all enjoy a safe and fun yoga practice.
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December 28, 2016 - 3:33 pm
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Proper labeling of what a class consists of is important. Some classes are extreme asana practice and some classes are extreme mantra practice. Some students get into a class, but have no idea which type of class they are in.

Some people like to think of yoga as some kind of perfect spiritual practice, and that yogis and students alike should strive for perfection at all times. While hatha yoga can be an incredibly satisfying experience both physically and spiritually, it is still a physical exercise. In the strictest physical sense, it really is no different from running, swimming or lifting weights. Accidents can happen even in the best of situations, and as an instructor you may find that some of your students are more accident prone than others. 

When you have accident-prone students in your yoga class, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. Yoga can be difficult, especially for beginners or those who are recovering from previous injuries. If someone in your class cannot perform a certain asana, don't push them or shame them. Encourage them to do the best they can, and they will improve in time.  

Another thing that is very important to remember is to keep the safety of your students your top priority. Getting your regular students to a point where they can perform practically any asana you ask of them and getting them into excellent shape may be great for your reputation, but it should never be done at the expense of their physical health. Take things slow, and don't worry about the expectation that some may have of everyone being perfect right away. As we said before, yoga is difficult, and it has a larger learning curve than many people realize. 

Finally, the last thing to remember if you have a particularly accident-prone class is to keep things simple. Focus on the more basic poses for a while until your students are more comfortable with them and with yoga in general. If that seems to be a little bit beyond them, focus on breathing for a few sessions. Remember that yoga isn't just a physical exercise, but a spiritual and meditative one. There is sometimes so much of a focus on the physical that many students - and even some instructors - forget about that. 

The most important thing above all else is to remember that yoga should never be painful. You may be technically putting your body into new and unnatural positions, but what you are doing shouldn't hurt. If it is hurting or if any of your students are complaining about pain, stop what you are doing. Achieving a perfect pose isn't worth anybody's physical health.

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December 28, 2016 - 6:01 pm
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Nonsense! There is no need of all this safety talk. Plenty of students want high risk classes and they gladly sign up and know they can get hurt. Acrobat, horse and paddle board yoga will raise the accident rates. Name calling is in. Bikram may have started calling students crude names, but Sadie Nardini will continue it with more humor. My point is that this teacher's forum has been for the safety oriented and straight laced instructors.

What your classes need is booze, boxing gloves, and trash talking to make your classes interesting. Here are my new classes for 2017.

Drunken Yoga

Kick Butt Yoga

In Your Face Yoga

This will perfectly match the new 2017 resolution of not smiling and telling people off for the next four years. Frown

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December 28, 2016 - 9:25 pm
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Hey Class,

Glad to see you back. I missed your dark humor. Laugh

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December 30, 2016 - 11:35 am
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Hi Class,

We can't get down in the dumps for 4 years. Let's see what happens and try to do our best regardless of politics. I want to bring up a point regarding class safety, and that is: Some teachers don't talk to their students, unless the students have been around for years and are part of an inner circle.

Why Should Teachers Talk to New Students Before Yoga Class?

There are numerous reasons why you should speak to a new student before the first class.

It is a privilege to greet someone who has selected and paid you the honor of spending their time and energy to learn from you. Your studio is like your home. It is proper and gracious to welcome the newcomer, the guest, the visitor. 

Think of how you feel when you enter a new situation. Wouldn’t you want to be greeted warmly? It is intimidating to enter any new venue, add to that your new student isn’t quite sure what to expect. A sincere welcome is a sign of the open-hearted vitality that pranayama practice embodies.

A few moments spent with a new student allows for a formal introduction and the chance to exchange names. Sharing someone’s name is a special intimacy. Take a moment to make sure that you are pronouncing the student’s name correctly and if possible repeat it. If the student takes several times to catch your name, be patient and encouraging.

The new student no doubt has questions about the physical layout of the studio. Where are the yoga mats stored? The yoga props? The location of the bathroom is a mystery, as are any possible amenities such as a kitchen, water fountain, or changing room. 

A few minutes with a new student will allow you to discern if there are any health concerns that should be taken into consideration when practicing poses. It’s also the perfect time to answer any questions, share the philosophy and guiding principles behind your yogic methodology, and to let the individual know that it is a privilege to welcome her to the studio. 

You might want to take this time to inquire about the new student’s background in yoga, what led him to this path and what he hopes to gain. 

Taking a few minutes beforehand to talk with a new student will allow both of you to become centered, to feel clear, to honor one another’s presence. If the new student has any questions as to a specific asana practice word, terminology, philosophy, or a question regarding a pose that she learned on her own or at another studio, this might be an opportunity to address those issues. 

Greeting a new student before class is an invitation to model the clarity and compassion of your pranayama practice.

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December 30, 2016 - 4:23 pm
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I agree with the idea of screening new students well before they are in class, which brings up another safety question. 

How Much Should Yoga Teachers Know About Contraindications? 
When you are a yoga instructor, it is imperative to understand the different contraindications in order to plan safe routines for your students. If you have a new student or a student has a medical issue, then certain asana postures are harmful rather than helpful. There are two types of contraindications in yoga, including avoiding poses or movements that are used only by the most experienced practitioners and the postures that are dangerous for certain individuals. 

1: Protecting Students’ Weight-bearing Joints

Yoga students who have knee, ankle or hip problems must use caution while performing certain poses to avoid applying too much pressure on a joint’s sensitive cartilage. In addition to poses, a teacher must understand human anatomy to plan a routine that does not require a student who has a knee problem to pivot the joint. 

2: Preventing Wrist Problems During Certain Poses

If a student has problem with their wrists, hands or fingers, then it is vital to avoid poses that put pressure on these parts of the body. The table pose requires a yoga student to rest on his hands, and if he has carpal tunnel syndrome, then this position can pinch the nerves and disturb blood flow, leading to additional discomfort.  

3: Understanding the Problems with a Student’s Eyes

Many yoga postures require partial inversion in order to flex the muscles in the body, but when a student has an eye disorder, an inversion pose can increase pressure inside the eye. It is important for a yoga instructor to have a medical clearance form for each student to understand health problems that are not noticeable, including glaucoma. 

4: Preventing Back Injuries In New Students

Most beginning yoga students have inflexible spines, and an instructor must make sure that new students protect their backs during their routines. To avoid damaging the back, an instructor should have a routine that is designed for new students who can begin with simple movements and poses. 

5: High Blood Pressure and Inversion Postures

Students with high blood pressure should avoid inversion poses such as a shoulder stand because it causes a change in the body’s blood flow. If a yoga class has a combination of new and experienced students, then a student with high blood pressure should have an adapted or alternate pose to perform rather than an inversion posture. 

 
Remember to Plan Alternate Yoga Routines for Students with Contraindications!
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January 3, 2017 - 7:08 am
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It is a big responsibility for a yoga teacher that his/her student should be safe and well while performing Yoga..

  • First of all "Yoga Poses to AVOID for Pregnant students:

Confused• Backbends
• Headstands
• Camel
• Upward bow
• Balancing poses on one leg
• Handstands

  • Proper instructions should be given by the teacher about the next session and the diet related to that for better health
  • Proper Guidance i.e. clear with instructions
  • A teacher should have a proper conversations with his student about each and every health obstracals.
  • Teacher should choose a Quite place for practise.
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January 3, 2017 - 4:51 pm
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Thank You Micky Kane! I agree with you.

Accident Prevention for Yoga Classes

By now, most people are well aware of the benefits of yoga, but not as many people know about its potential pitfalls. Yoga has gained a reputation among some as a kind of perfect practice, as if nothing can go wrong during a typical session unless the practitioner does something to cause it. What these people need to understand that yoga is technically no different from any other physical activity, and all physical activities carry the risk of injury. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things you can do as an instructor to prevent serious injuries during your yoga classes. Here are just a few to keep in mind.

How to Align Yoga Students

An important aspect of teaching proper yoga postures is making sure that your students are in alignment. First, a student must understand why his body alignment during yoga poses is necessary. Using the correct alignment can help to prevent injuries of a student’s joints, muscles and tendons. When a student uses proper alignment, he will experience more benefits from a pose, including relieving stress and improving meditation. While aligning your students during yoga classes is essential, you should use certain methods to make it more effective.

Tip 1: Offer Individualized Training Classes to New Students

To help a new student understand the benefits of body alignment during her yoga postures, offer individualized training classes. By showing a student how to perform particular postures correctly before joining a larger class, a student is more likely to feel comfortable performing a new routine. 

Tip 2: Have Informative Posters On a Classroom’s Walls

You can place posters with depictions of yoga practitioners on the walls of your studio to show a student how to align his body during a posture. Many students learn visually, and they can stand next to the poster to create the same pose.

Tip 3: Provide Illustrated Pamphlets for Your Students

Students enrolled in yoga classes often want to practice movements and poses at home. Help your students to continue using the correct alignment by providing pamphlets that have illustrations of the postures. 

Tip 4: Have Mirrors On Your Studio’s Walls

If possible, make sure to have full-length mirrors on the walls of your yoga studio so that a student can see how she is aligning her body. To prevent injuries from broken glass, you can find shatter-resistant mirrors that are easy to attach to the walls of your classroom. 

Tip 5: Ask Experienced Students to Help New Students

When you are arranging your studio, have your experienced students near new students. Ask the knowledgeable students to show a new student the correct way to perform an asana. Make sure that less experienced students are always treated in a respectful manner when a yoga posture is adjusted into the proper alignment. 

Tip 6: Move Around the Classroom While Teaching Poses

While teaching your classes, make sure to move your mat around the room in order to watch different students while they move and pose. This gives you an opportunity to see your students from a different perspective. 

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January 9, 2017 - 12:39 pm
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What Are the Most Common Yoga Injuries?

It is a good idea for yoga teachers and students to understand the most common types of injuries that can occur during an asana pose or movement.  

1: Low-back and Spinal Column Irritation

One of the most important reasons to perform yoga poses and movements is to improve the flexibility of your spinal column and back. However, if you are not accustomed to making backbends and cross-legged poses, then you risk irritating the tender joints that are located in your spine. Don’t force yourself to get into difficult poses to avoid irritating the nerves, cartilage and muscles in your spine and back. 

2: Pain In the Hands and Wrists

Several yoga positions, including cat pose will require you to rest on your hands while bending your wrists. The day after you perform movements and poses that place pressure on your hands and wrists, you may feel discomfort that makes it difficult to manage daily activities such as typing on a computer’s keyboard. Take a few days off from your yoga practice to give your hands and wrists a chance to heal. 

3: Hamstring Pulls In the Legs 

You may pull or overstretch a hamstring muscle in one or both legs, leading to pain while you walk or sit. This discomfort can extend to your knees because the hamstring muscle is responsible for helping your knee to bend. If you have a hamstring pull, then it is vital to rest because too much movement can lead to additional irritation and more pain. If you are a new yoga student, then avoid the strenuous poses that the more experienced students are doing. 

4: Hip Pain From Sitting Poses 

An important aspect of yoga is the sitting poses that help you to focus on your breathing and meditation. However, if you haven’t sat in a cross-legged pose since kindergarten, then you will likely experience pain in your hips. Ask your yoga teacher about modifications or using a chair during your routines until you have increased your joint flexibility.  

5: Foot, Ankle and Toe Injuries 

You may see a lot of yoga teachers and students practicing their poses and movements while they are barefoot or wearing specialized protective yoga socks. However, you can injure your toes, feet and ankles easily during some yoga positions when you are not mindful of your feet. 

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February 8, 2017 - 1:39 pm
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Yoga Safety: Accident-prone Teachers 

If you are a yoga teacher, then being accident-prone will scare your students away. Some of the ways that you can look accident-prone is by having numerous bruises on your skin or wearing a cast on a broken bone. When a yoga teacher looks as though she is always having a string of accidents, students are going to worry that the same thing will happen to them. Here a few ways to keep you and your students safer throughout their classes.  

1: Protect Your Feet 

While you might see other yoga teachers practicing their postures without wearing socks or shoes, the reality is that it is dangerous. If the soles of your feet are slippery from perspiration, then you are more likely to fall on a rubber mat or tile floor. As a teacher, you should set a good example by wearing specialized shoes that are made for performing asanas. This type of footwear is lightweight but durable. 

2: Have Soft Mats 

A yoga studio must have numerous soft mats available for students, and as a teacher, you should also use a safe surface while showing your students how to perform movements and poses. If you must get closer to a student to show them a pose, then make sure that there is space between you and the other individuals in the classroom. 

3: Keep a Studio Organized 

To keep students from bumping into each other or you during their postures, you must have an organized studio. Place the student’s soft mats far apart in case someone loses their balance during a routine. Have enough lighting so that students can see where everything is in the room to avoid tripping injuries.  

4: Make Sure to Warm Up

There is a myth about teachers not having to warm up. Everyone has to warm up! Teach your students to warm up by having them perform gentle flows, circular warm ups, or salutations. Warming up the muscles and tendons before a yoga posture can help to prevent strains and tears that will lead to immobility for several days or weeks. 

5: Listen to Your Body

Make sure to listen to your body while teaching a yoga class, and teach your students to notice an uncomfortable feeling in their joints or muscles. If a student hears a joint popping while performing a yoga posture, then they should know that it is time to stop their routine. 

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