Of course, it takes a lot of time, dedication and effort to become a fitness instructor, whatever discipline you are primarily working in. But as in any industry some people are simply better suited to their role than others. Whether that’s through not keeping up with developments in their field, a tendency to believe anything spouted by a so-called authority without doing their own research, or simply not having the passion that a career in the industry demands, ultimately the person negatively affected is you. So what are the signs you should look out for that tell you that you might need to change yoga teachers?
Despite starting out with all the best will in the world the problem is that, as with any job, it can sometimes be tempting to tell the customer what they want to hear. Whether that’s down to wanting to close a sale or due to misinformation that sounds customer-friendly but is not actually based on any facts. The problem is, being sold a perfume that doesn’t make good on its promise to make you irresistible to the opposite sex and signing up for a yoga class that does you more harm than good are two very different things. The first is a waste of money at best (although at least you smell nice) but the second could be physically harming you.
The fact is yoga is a scientific practice which needs to integrate biomechanics – the study of a structure such as the human body. A good yoga instructor understands this and knows how to incorporate research in this field into their classes. In a quality yoga class you will not find your teacher spouting vague, flowery terms that have no grounding in biomechanics. Therefore if you’ve noticed your teacher offering pearls of ‘wisdom’ such as “shoulder stands increase activity in the brain” you might want to consider switching studios. No one is saying your instructor doesn’t mean well – they believe what they are telling you. They just haven’t thought to investigate why they are saying it. Worse, they could be putting you in danger.
Here are some other things that should be raising red flags:
Manipulating the body to force it into an ideal of what a pose ‘should look like’ is an all round no-no. If your body is unable to attain a pose, no one is qualified or has the right to force you into a position that you find uncomfortable or are downright unable to achieve. Going deeper into your poses is something that you should work towards naturally and at a rate that feels right for you. Consider that a massage therapist undergoes intensive training and must apply for a license before they lay even a finger on a client and compare that to a yoga instructor fresh out of their 200-hour training course forcing you into a position that frankly may be dangerous for you to attempt.
Yoga is hugely beneficial for people of all ages and fitness levels; that’s not up for debate, but what is, are teachers who claim that you’re getting all the physical activity you need in your yoga class. You spend an entire yoga class on your mat – this fact alone says that you are not being subjected to the range of physical movement you need to live your life to the fullest. For example, yoga will not help you develop muscles that enable you to run faster – whether you’re pounding the treadmill or sprinting for the bus.
There has been a lot of media attention given to the so-called benefits of shoulder and headstands lately and many rookie instructors feel that a yoga class is missing an integral part if they are not included. Furthermore the same teachers usually believe that holding stands for a long count is mandatory too. The problem is the claims that are being made about head and shoulder stands’ magical effects are not backed by any kind of scientific research. In fact, many instructors do not include stands in the practice, at least in general classes, for the simple reason that an average student will not have adequate neck muscles to support their body weight. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a head or shoulder stand performed incorrectly can put serious stress on the neck and lead to an accident or long term damage.
If you want to burn fat and achieve an overall sleeker look, of course yoga is only going to push you towards your goal, but the length of your muscles actually have everything to do with the length of your bones, and precious little to do with the downward dog.
If you’d rather know that you are practicing yoga in a safe, jargon-free, supportive and professional environment, talk to us today. Our highly qualified instructors are always happy to answer any concerns or queries you might have.