Regulations? Responsiblity? Training?

So a lot of discussion lately within the yoga community and the world about whether or not yoga needs to be state regulated. I recently watched a video of a CBS news report about injury and the rising number of yoga injuries, etc. 

Yes, people can get injured in yoga class.  Not all postures are good for all bodies.  Yes there are inexperienced teachers out there.  I was one of them.  Even with a 200 hour certification, you can’t be prepared for what happens in a class until you actually start teaching them. 

What was interesting about the video is while the woman who was injured, had bulging discs, blames yoga for the injury, she never did state why or how she thinks she got injured.  I can probably take an educated guess.  One pose, Uttanasana, standing forward fold, can be VERY dangerous for your back if done inproperly.  Even though I tell students, “bend your knees to bring your chest to your thighs to protect your back from rounding” most students don’t do it.  Even when I physically walk over to a student and tell them,”bend your knees to protect your back”, pretty soon, they’re back to doing the same thing, round back to get their hands at the floor.

Roger Cole writes some great articles for Yoga Journal about protecting the back and what is going on in the back in forward folds.  There is so much that yoga does that benefits the body but yes, you can get injured from doing the poses, whether in proper alignment or not. 

But more specifically, when more yoga classes are being offered in gyms, condominium activity rooms and corporate conference rooms, places where props are often not offered or even discouraged from use, where does the responsibility lie?  This video really doesn’t offer any solutions, nor does it specifically or clearly outline a problem.  It’s claim that the yoga industry is unregulated and therefore, regulation would solve the problem.  Is the oil industry unregulated and did that stop the gulf spill?  I do think there should be some sort of guidelines and the industry is responding to that with 200 and 500 hour certifications.  But even at that, there are some studios and corporations that offer those and their offerings are more of a way to earn income than properly educate teachers, as we see in this reporter’s “certification.”  There was a recent article about finding a plastic surgeon and how you should be careful and choose one that’s certified through one of THREE different board certification governing bodies.  It’s really confusing and difficult to find someone who is a DOCTOR who has a certification to do a medical procedure.  More regulations aren’t always an answer and just because someone has a certain certification doesn’t make them a better doctor or yoga teacher. 

I am pretty bodily aware now.  I’ve been doing yoga for 10+ years, also running and dance.  What I can tell you is this:  When I’m in a class at a gym and a teacher is telling me to jump from one place to another, I don’t jump.  Because I have a bad knee and the impact from jumping would hurt my knee worse.  Just because a teacher is telling me to do something doesn’t mean it’s good for me or that  I have to do it.  If a teacher is telling me that I could injure myself doing something not quite in alignment, I should listen to that.   There’s a balance between personal responsibility and teaching responsibility. 

As a teacher, I’m responsible to continue my training and learning.  I’m responsible for teaching what I know and not what I don’t know.  While I hope that my students listen, sometimes they don’t.  While in some environments, like studios, I have the ability to take time and really work on alignment issues and use props.   In some environments, like gyms, often the emphasis is on fitness and there aren’t props to help students work with their imbalances so I do what I can. 

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Jennie Olson Six

I'm an actor/writer who loves cats enough to become a crazy cat lady but my husband won't support my habit.

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