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Safe Yoga Teaching

The third weekend of the Teacher Training was ''Anatomy and Physiology''.

I feel so blessed to have a physiotherapy clinic in our centre. Wilson physiotherapy is run by Steven Wilson (MSc MMACP), a clinical specialist in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and pain management.

As well as running his clinic, Wilson Physiotherapy, within Wellbeing Warehouse, Steve still works for the NHS. Both himself, and his wife, Jennie, are physiotherapists, in whom I would confidently send any of my clients to for a diagnosis when I feel unsure of any injuries apparent during classes. 

I always stress to my instructors the importance of enquiring as to whether class participants have injuries, but at no stage should they make a diagnosis. We are not qualified to take on such a responsibility. That is why Physiotherapists have so many years of training behind them, and if I have anyone who I am concerned as to their safety when attending a class, I would always recommend seeing someone far more experienced and qualified than myself.

In addition to this there are so many issues surrounding insurance, regulations and guidelines for safe teaching.

I feel we should all stick to what we know and the level of anatomy covered, would not, in any way, give us the knowledge to be able to diagnose or treat many conditions.

With this in mind, we are only responsible to an extent. Clients have to be responsible for themselves. They know their own body way better than we do, and if pain is obvious to them, they should have been given the guideline to stop.

We all know that Yoga is an incredible way of adding strength and mobility. 

Many common injuries may be prevented by ensuring the body works effectively. Overuse of certain muscles together with incorrect form can lead to muscle fatigue and potential injury.

Many of the students who come to the teacher trainings, as well as clients to a yoga class, have often found yoga through injury, and sometimes through recommendation from a clinical specialist.

The role of a Yoga teacher is to give guided support to clients pursuing changes in their life, whether that is physical or emotional.

It is important that instructors have a basic knowledge of anatomy and it is crucial to have covered this in order to safely adjust and modify postures.

Steve has attended some of my Yoga classes and regularly sends patients he is treating, both for Pilates and Yoga. As he says it is not just the immediate diagnosis and pain management, but patients just need to get mobile, to ensure the other muscles do not tighten around the effected area. 

The body was designed to move and we often limit our full potential of mobility from a sedentary lifestyle and incorrect techniques.

I know that I need to incorporate my Pilates equipment training into my week. I do not just practice Yoga. Yoga will often compliment other activities, and the more you practice, the more you develop an understanding of the body.

What I love so much about Yoga, is how it changes the way I think. It is not important to achieve the most advanced asana but more in the quality of the movement with awareness of the breath and mind.

I really feel the students received a very safe and informative weekend on the subject of ''Anatomy and Physiology''. Steve explains this very vast subject in a clearly understandable way. I put a few common Yoga asanas together for him, in order for the students to look at the posture and what was required as far as the action of the body and whether this would be achievable to a non-yoga body. 

If we look at the picture book image of many Yoga asanas, the body is often contorted into a shape way beyond the normal range of movement within that joint.

We, as instructors, need to recognise that not everyone will be super mobile and every body is anatomically unique. 

I hope to offer you a tool kit which you can use in any class, and, together with the application of your knowledge, safely guide people through a class, whilst building their confidence, not only in themselves, but you, as their teacher.