I got injured by a teacher’s physical adjustments in a yoga class…

Here is the story.

It happened many years ago – well maybe not that long ago. I was already a yoga teacher and I enjoyed taking yoga classes for inspiration and personal practice. Being a visual person (and yogini), I placed my mat at the front of the class. I really enjoy being close to the teacher to see the demonstration.*

I was following the class, but as I taught my students, being a little tired, I decided to follow my breath and chose the option that was good for me during class. We were instructed to go into a high lunge, being in tune with my body, I decided to place my knee on the floor (in a kneeling lunge).  The teacher, from behind, lifted my knee off the floor. I did not notice at the time, but since my glutes were not engaged, the teacher injured me with this physical adjustment. I was in pain for a few days if not weeks. My hips were sore. Really sore. 

*On a personal note: I dislike classes where the teacher doesn’t demonstrate at all. 

Physical Adjustments in a Yoga Class

Being an optimistic yoga teacher (and person), I decided to learn from this unpleasant and even painful experience.

Here are the lessons I have learnt regarding physical adjustments in a yoga class:

  1. Avoid physical adjustments if possible. Use demonstration and verbal adjustments first;
  2. Only physically adjust students if you know them well (medical history). For example a student might have a sensitive shoulder that you don’t know about. Therefore, I would not physically adjust a student in a class where I am subbing; 
  3. Never assume people want to be touched. Ask a student if he\she wants to be adjusted before touching them. There are different ways to show if you want to be adjusted or not: some yoga studios have consent cards; some yoga teachers ask participants that do want physical adjustments to fold a corner of their yoga mat;
  4. Never give a physical adjustment without a visual contact with the student;
  5. Most importantly do not impose an option but provide options and let the students choose the option that is good for them at the time they are practicing. They are the ones that know best what they need. 

To sum up, we are yoga teachers not instructors. We are responsible for the safety of our students and there are more downfalls than benefits from physical adjustments – I encourage to use them only when needed.