What is the scope of a yoga teacher’s practice? – Jenni Rawlings Yoga and movement


SHELLY PROSKO: I think that the practice of language and the indications offered by therapeutic advice is beyond reach. Linguistic recommendations and specific advice for certain conditions or problems such as: ‘this posture is good for sciatica’; ‘this breathing practice will help your anxiety’; ‘this bandha practice will help your incontinence’; ‘this meditation is to help heal your trauma’; or “this alignment stabilizes your joint instability” and “this alignment is bad for your osteoarthritis” are statements that (1) are not true or validated for everyone and (2) imply that the teacher has a level of experience which he may not have. And even if they did, the teacher would still have to evaluate each individual student and explore to see if the practice would be appropriate for that particular person and their problem or condition.

I believe that the practice of practical “adjustments” is also out of reach unless the teacher is trained in another certified or regulated profession that includes contact internships or internships as part of their field of practice. I do not think that this means, however, that the teacher is absolutely forbidden to touch all students in all cases, and deserves a more nuanced discussion of consent, intent, and common sense.

CELEST PEREIRA: The most common and harmful habit is when yoga teachers diagnose students from a superficial set of symptoms. Labels such as “family trauma” or “karma from a past life” are sometimes introduced into the conversation. While I realize that science is incapable of refuting these concepts, a label can, and often does, give meaning to a person’s actions.

I think the impact of our words is often not fully understood. Of course, even highly trained medical professionals make a misdiagnosis, but what these professionals rely on is experience in clinical reasoning and critical thinking to draw their own conclusions. These are skills that are often not defended in the yoga world today.

4) Have you always maintained your current view on the scope of a yoga teacher or has it changed over time? If it has changed over time, how?

ROCKY HERON: No. Since this was not a subject I was taught explicitly at the beginning of my teaching, I assumed that what I saw other more experienced teachers doing was not only within the scope of my practice, but I also hoped that was part of my offer. as a teacher. I spent many years trying to learn as much as I could in the above areas so that I could be the body teacher / assistant / nutritionist / therapist / spiritual teacher that I thought was expected to be.

There were several moments throughout my teaching that woke me up to the error of my assumptions, and I found it quite liberating to refocus and limit what I offer within its proper scope. Also, if my goal is to be truly valuable to my students, referring them to the right places where they can receive attention and guidance from qualified experts in these areas is much more effective than I claim to be.

TRINA ALTMAN: As a beginning teacher, I thought there were more simplistic solutions to what students describe as stress or pain. However, as I was learning more, I realized how complicated these things were and that I didn’t know enough to comment on them. Now, I think my students are better served if I refer them to someone with more training than me and more qualified to help them.

Today I work with students who sometimes have pain. However, they see me as more than one physiotherapist or have completed physical therapy. I’m teaching them movement, which can help them feel better as a by-product. However, I am not diagnosing or treating a specific condition or promising a specific outcome.

LARRY PAYNE: Yes, it has changed over time. In the early days, 40 years ago, playing was much more acceptable and, in fact, was expected of my students. However, in India, with the exception of the Iyengar system, touch or hands were not encouraged. I remember that at the beginning with Desikachar we met a group with him in India that we were the original founding members of Viniyoga America. He said, “There’s no reason to ever touch a student. Just give me a reason?” I said, “Sir, I’m from California. Some people like to be touched.” He got very angry with me and one of the middle-aged women in the group said, “For a young man?” It was an awkward moment that I will never forget.

Then, when I became a certified yoga therapist and worked with people who had conditions that did not normally fit into a normal yoga class, I had to learn more about the principles of practice that are specified and sometimes updated on the IAYT website.

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