Poor posture just might equal a poorly educated teacher.

We come to a yoga class or a Pilates class or any fitness class really, and expect our bodies to feel better, our issues to be resolved. And we expect for the impossible to happen.  But the only problem is no one is teaching us “how” to do what we are doing.  When I first started yoga I knew “Mountain Pose”, who didn’t?  But I never “knew” how to truly practice it.  And if Mountain pose is the blueprint of other postures, what does that say about the rest of our practice?  To me that is scary. Someone has horrible feet, stemming into their knees, hips and shoulders and so on. Here you are, trying to teach them balance, alignment and “what to do” in postures that require a good “healthy” body.  This is where your yoga (or any) practice can hurt you, and this is happening all over-right now.

I remember my first Pilates training (and I would not have called that a training) and the lady was more concerned with drinking her Starbucks latte and her makeup than teaching us anything.  When we were “taught” the exercises it was more a display of her “expertise” than actual teaching.  I look back, and all I remember is peoples’ bodies flying every which way all over the room, people huffing and puffing trying to “keep up”. And this was a teaching to beginners.

Practice Safe, Effective, Mindful Movement

Now I by no means think that I know everything and am not saying that I do in any way. However, when you have physical therapists, exercise therapists, trainers, PE teachers and other teachers coming to you with questions on how to do things and why this is happening, I have to think I am doing something right.

So, whether you are a teacher, trainer, therapist or just an avid yoga or fitness student, we need to start to take better care of our bodies and how they move.  Having love and kindness to share is great and I teach that way as well, but that is not enough.  We are “playing” with peoples sacred bodies and we need to be reminded of that.  What we are having people do could be causing their poor posture, their shoulder problem, their SI joint discomfort and because you teach yoga they think “no it can’t be from that”.  IT SURE CAN!  And it very well could be. 

You will constantly hear out of my mouth when I am teaching, heart-felt creative cues, deep spirituality spoken and intentions set throughout class. But woven through that is safety, anatomy, what you should or shouldn’t be doing if X-Y-Z.  I’m always sharing tips, ideas and suggestions for how to make your practice safe, effective and right for your body today, and mindfulness in movement 24/7!  This I believe our responsibility as “fitness” (and yes yoga falls under this umbrella-you are working with someone’s body aren’t you?) professionals to know this stuff. The question becomes: how are people so easily able to go out and teach this type of preventative medicine with little to no knowledge? Yet, a doctor needs minimum six to eight years of college to even begin to practice.

Scary, I know teachers (and some very well known) that know very little about the physical body and how it moves and are teaching some very intense types of practices.  To me it just makes sense that if you are guiding someone’s body then you should know about it.

What can we do?

First if you are a student, ask questions.  Ask if your teacher is certified if so-it better be in what they are teaching, are they familiar with the body, with your injuries or limitations and if not, are they willing to find out more about them.  In class are they showing variations, what to do if X-Y-Z?  To stop if this and that happens?  And most important why are you are doing what you are doing.???????

If you are a teacher or someone who is going to be a teacher, look at the value the training puts on anatomy and the body on how it is applied to the practice you are choosing.  I know a training within 50 miles of me and this woman uses her students attending kirtan as “contact hours” and all her books are “optional” to read.  Really???  And talk with the teacher about their background and knowledge, talk with past students about what they think, in person if possible.  Finally, current teachers, if you have had a bad training experience you have to say something, otherwise how will it ever change.  And look for mentors that mirror your values and can teach more about the bodies you are playing with on the mat or in the classroom.

Good luck!

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