yoga safetyBy Azahar Aguilar

Responsibility rests on yoga instructors to look out for the student’s safety before, during and after class.  A safe teaching track record leaves you and your students confident and better able to focus on the practice.  Established studio tracking methods as well as constant communication between teachers and students will create this type of caring environment.

Prevention with Tracking Systems

In a studio, a critical step to ensure communication between many different yoga instructors begins with the new student sign up process.  There must be a place on the welcome form to list pre-existing injuries and health conditions, then loaded into a computer or folder tracking system.  When students sign in for future classes, that information easily shows and is available for the current teacher instructing.  The teacher glances over the list, and is immediately aware of injury and health information before stepping into the studio with that student.

Encourage a space to track conversations with students in your studio as well; such as when a student may approach you after class for more information on how to modify a posture for her former torn ACL.  That knowledge is important to share; a place to note that in a tracking system for other instructors to see and be aware of is extremely valuable.

Prevention with Conversation and Questions

Habits of yoga teachers should include initiating conversation with new faces as they step into the yoga studio- even a quick and direct question, “do you have any injuries or health concerns I should keep in mind to make you more comfortable?” to allow another opportunity for sharing safe yoga knowledge.

Initiate conversation after class with other students for a more natural conversation flow with regulars and faces you have seen before.  Anything you noticed in class from discomfort in the face during a knee-intense posture to asking why they began yoga can open communication. These conversations can easily be additions to add notes in the tracking system for the advantage of the next teacher to safely instruct that student.

The space exists, at the start of class as you introduce yourself, to ask for students with any injuries to raise their hands and let you know of any injuries or health concerns.  Another option for shyer students is to close their eyes and place hands over their hearts for a more anonymous approach. Create your own opportunities to find out more about your students to further establish safety in the studio.

Remind your students during or after class – to make their new instructors aware before class of pre-existing injuries or health conditions.  This also provides the opportunity for your students to make the studio a safer place for him or herself, and a more enjoyable practice for teachers to offer modifications as needed.

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