I am a yoga teacher based in Guildford and this subject is one close to my heart as it is one that I have directly experienced. I won’t go into detail here, i will save that for another time but I do want to expressly get the point across to all you yogis out there that it is NOT OK for a yoga teacher to cause you an injury. In my time of teaching I can hand on heart say that I have never injured anyone by adjusting them, I am VERY careful in this respect so listen acutely to a students body when adjusting, listening, AND looking for signs of the body saying ‘enough’. However more recently I have heard more and more that students are being injured by Ashtanga teachers, and more importantly I have heard this direct from the student themselves. Why I say ‘more importantly’ is because there seems to be a block on telling a teacher that they have injured you.. I’m not sure why us Yogi’s seem to think “it’s ok” and “it was probably my fault”, NO, it’s not ok and it’s not your fault, the teacher should have been so in tune with your practice that they could sense potential danger.
Now when I say injury I don’t mean a muscle that aches or has been stretched and feels it for the next couple of days I am talking about hamstring tears, tweaked back muscles causing muscle spasm, knee ligament damage, shoulder tears, these types of injuries that take A LONG time to heal. No yogi wants an injury so whilst we move super aware of keeping ourselves safe so to must our teacher. One of the things that I notice when teachers adjust is that they are striving to get the student into a posture, they become so self absorbed with wanting to be ‘the one that got them in for the first time’ that they forget they are dealing with a precious and potentially vulnerable body. And yes, whilst it is very exciting if you do obtain the posture, its not exciting when you an hour or so later you realise it was at the expense of precious joint stability. Hmmm. So what do we do about this? I ask all yogi’s out there to say something. If you get hurt, speak up and tell the teacher, they NEED to know. Tell the studio owner or the receptionist and ask them to feed it back to the teacher anonymously if you do not want to speak directly but DO SAY SOMETHING.
One of the worst things I heard more recently was that a student complained to the manager but was given the feedback that it was the students fault as they should have spoken up during the adjustment and told the teacher to stop. Yes this can help but seriously?! I was horrified. Not only could I believe the manager of the establish was blaming the student but that they thought it was perfectly ok to say this to them. How must that student have felt at that time? As a student we trust our teacher, that is a HUGE aspect of yoga, TRUST so we shouldn’t have to be thinking ‘are they going to hurt me, should I say something’, we should trust that we won’t be hurt, trust that we are learning in a safe and progressive way that means our yoga and our bodies will last a lifetime. Yes there will always be the rare occasion that a teacher gets its wrong, even some of the highest, most experienced yoga teachers have injured students (yep that was my experience!) but this should be the exception to the rule and not the rule.
Find a trustworthy teacher whose interest is in YOU, not in getting you into that next posture regardless, stick with them, cherish them and enjoy their knowledge, there are a lot of teachers out there who can hurt you so be aware, speak up and be safe. My Mantra: “learn in a safe and progressive way that means your yoga and your bodiy will last a lifetime”