contact 1300 844 693  | member area | invite friend | AdoreYoga AdoreYoga



Captcha Image

Latest news from adore


 ... more

Every week, students limp (metaphorically and literally) into my yoga therapy practice nursing injuries they sustained in group yoga classes. 

If you’re a yoga teacher, you may never know if a student is injured in your class because, most of the time, they just don’t come back. So what are the common ways students get injured in yoga classes?


1. When you teach a static pose, give students options ranging from easy to hard, demonstrating each one and then holding the strongest version.


Because everybody loves to be the doofus who can’t do the ‘advanced’ version. About 6 months ago, I went to a class advertised as ‘beginners’. The teacher taught Bakasana/crow pose (actually, she demonstrated it – that’s different to teaching) and, surprise, nearly everyone gave it a go. Including the friend I was accompanying who had a shoulder injury. Yes, the teacher gave an ‘easy option’ but nobody wanted to get left behind.


Try sequencing your classes so that the strong poses have a number of preparatory poses. Demonstrate each preparatory pose, then watch carefully to see how your students handle it. You’ll soon work out who’s up to the challenging pose ahead. With this understanding of your student’s capabilities, you can ask the ones who are not ready for the advanced pose to stick with the previous (preparatory) pose. Yes, this means demonstrating and then moving amongst your students, rather then getting everyone to practice along with you.


2. When you’re leading a vinyasa class, tell students to go at their own pace while you stay at the front demonstrating every move.


Let’s just think about this one for a moment. If people go at their own pace (or follow their own breath – another instruction that is impossible to follow when students are trying to copy every move the teacher makes), they’re going to get out of synch with the teacher. The only students who would be able to cope confidently with that are the ones with some experience. So beginners are most likely to be the ones risking injury as they strain to keep pace with the teacher.


3. Tell your students at the start of class to ‘drop in to child’s pose when you need to’?


How did you feel last time you had to drop into child's pose because a class was too tough for you (and if you’ve never had to do that, have you spent any time really imagining what it’s like to be in a body that has pain, injury and restriction?). It takes confidence and somatic awareness to ease back before injury occurs - the more inexperienced a student is, the more likely they are to go for the burn. Beginner students often project those ‘no pain, no gain’ samskaras onto their yoga practice and simply telling them at the start of the class to take a rest when they need one is not enough to keep them safe.


The smarter option is to challenge students without taking them to the point where they push themselves too hard. Help them explore the meaning and intention of each pose rather than attempting to perfect the physical shape at all costs. One way to do this is to emphasise the key principles of Sthira and Sukha. Different students are going to experience the fine balance between the two at different points in the progression of a pose. Some might be able to maintain the edge between Sthira and Sukha in full wheel. Others might lose it in the preparatory bridge pose – a good indication that you should remind them personally to take a resting pose when the going gets tough. The challenge is to help students move into each pose with an intention that goes beyond perfecting the physical shape. This will help them develop greater somatic awareness and avoid the injuries that come when they work beyond their current capacity.

Founder and Principal Teacher at Adore Yoga, Nikola Ellis has been immersed in yoga for over 20 years. Join her for advanced teacher training, yoga therapy and mentoring at Adore Yoga.


Adore Yoga


Beyond strength and flexibility, yoga is a powerful tool for living well. Read our Manifesto to discover the full richness of yoga

Read more

Yoga Bliss Book Yoga Bliss Book (416 KB)