Teaching Vinyasa Yoga: Precautions

yoga instructorBy Faye Martins

Vinyasa yoga refers to a specific sequence of poses that are performed in a flowing manner with specific breathing patterns used to enhance each pose. The postures are the same as you would find in any traditional yoga class, but they are performed in a specific sequence determined by the teacher. Vinyasa classes can vary greatly depending on who is teaching the class because the teacher is responsible for developing his or her own sequences and routines.

Vinyasa offers all of the benefits provided by a traditional yoga class with an added bonus of a better cardiovascular workout due to the faster pace. You might think of Vinyasa as more of a graceful, flowing class when compared to other styles. As with all yoga classes, there are certain precautions to take when taking part in Vinyasa yoga.


General Guidelines

People with health conditions should have their doctor’s permission to be in your class. As a yoga teacher it is important to protect your students and sometimes you have to protect them from themselves. Students who are pregnant should not be in flowing classes. Each yoga instructor feels differently, but do we really want to permit a student to get in harm’s way? Ultimately, it’s up to each student to use common sense, but why allow risks? Jump backs should not be practiced by people with back conditions and those who are pregnant.

It’s Not for Beginners

While most yoga training sessions are open to anyone of any skill level or people with personal injuries or health issues, Vinyasa is a little different. The nature of the class is to flow smoothly through a series of asanas while incorporating synchronized breaths with each movement. A beginner would be overwhelmed by the fast pace. Vinyasa yoga is typically for people who have a good understanding of each asana and can go easily into each asana without too much effort. Students are then able to focus on the breath and the flow of one posture to the next.


Keeping the Pace

The pace of each Vinyasa class can vary depending on the instructor. If you try one class and find that you are having trouble keeping up with everyone else, try another class or speak to the instructor for advice. It’s important to work at a pace you are comfortable with or you risk injuring yourself by going too fast. This can also be a stressful experience if you are falling behind during class. Try not to let the anxiety get to you, but rather keep up the best that you can without worrying about being in sync with everyone else.

Erratic Breathing

Typical Vinyasa classes will incorporate inhales during upward movements and exhales during downward movements. Beginners might find the breathing a bit awkward, causing them to take shorter breaths than what would be appropriate. Try to keep up with the breathing cues the instructor gives, but don’t worry if you can’t right away. It takes practice and familiarity to truly incorporate smooth, deep breaths with each pose.


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