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Yoga has been shown to have many health benefits, including easing stress and pain, as well as improving mental health. Research suggests yoga as a promising adjunct therapy for common conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, low back pain, and more. But is it safe?

Ann Swanson Certified Yoga Therapist and author of Science Of Yoga joins the beYogi webinar series to teach us all more about yoga safety in the studio and online.

How To Practice Yoga Safety

Watch the full 1-hour webinar and follow along with Ann's FREE yoga precautions handout. Download here

Scope of Practice

Scope of practice is very important to be aware of as a yoga teacher & yoga therapist. As a teacher and/or therapist is is important to note you do not diagnose anything. 

Even if you know for a fact what your student may be dealing with, you are not qualified to diagnosis. The student needs to go to a health professional. Referrals here are your friend. Anytime you may feel uncomfortable with questions being asked or specific issues that arise the best option is to ask them if they hav talked to their doctor. If not, provide different referrals for your students to seek proper medical advice. 

We also advise teachers to require a liability waiver for their classes! 

Download The Waiver Of Liability Template

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Working With Older Adults

The demand for teachers specializing in senior yoga is higher than ever. If you decide to teach to older adults or if you already are, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Hearing can be a common difficulty to overcome. When working with older adults speak louder and clearer not to the point of speaking in slow motion but stay focused on pronunciation and mouth movement. 

In an online setting, try to wear a microphone or be extra aware of where the mic is located. For example if the mic is attached to your computer, speak louder when you turn your head or move farther from the computer. 

Another aspect of working with seniors is doing more demonstrations especially when it comes to working with adults with dementia. It is not typically taught in YTT to demo often especially to an advanced class however because the movements you would be doing with a senior group would not be on the same level, doing demos is more appropriate and safer. 

Most Common Injuries

These are the most common injuries that occur in class when yoga safety and precautions are not thoroughly followed. 

Poses with the most injuries:

  1. Headstand
  2. Shoulder Stand 
  3. Lotus Position (neuropathy, sciatica, growth plate fracture)
  4. Forceful Breathing Practices

Most Injuries were:

  1. Musculoskelatal (sprains, strains, tears)
  2. Nervous System
  3. Eye-related (glaucoma, eye-pressure conditions) 

Partial Inversions- When your head is below your heart

  • Avoid for glaucoma, recent cataract surgery, or retinopathy. Consult your ophthalmologist if you are unsure.
  • Avoid for unregulated or poorly regulated high blood pressure.
  • Avoid when experiencing acid reflux or GERD.
  • Extreme caution for high blood pressure in general; come out of the pose if you feel uncomfortable, dizzy, or your skin changes color.
  • Caution if you have a tendency to vertigo or dizziness (like from medications or low blood pressure), especially when coming in and out of a pose. Move particularly slowly in and out of poses.
  • Caution for many heart conditions. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.

Full Inversions

  • Avoid if you have an ear infection.
  • Avoid extreme inversions for osteoporosis or osteopenia. Be particularly be careful to prevent falls and avoid placing body weight on the neck, as in headstand, shoulderstand, and plough.
  • Caution in pregnancy, especially during second and third trimesters, being particularly careful coming in and out of poses. Avoid intense inversions and don’t hold for long periods. It’s not advisable to attempt to learn new “advanced” inversions during pregnancy.
  • During menstruation, you can perform inversions if comfortable. However, you may want to avoid or do a gentler version if the pose is new to you, menstrual flow is heavy, and/or discomfort arises.

>Click Here to Download The Free Guide About How To Offer Virtual Yoga<

About The Author

Ann is a certified yoga therapist and author of SCIENCE OF YOGA, which is translated into 15 languages. After studying yoga in India and tai chi in China, she became fascinated by how these practices improve health and quality of life. She went on to explore the science of the human body by taking pre med university courses, becoming a massage therapist, working in a cadaver lab, and ultimately earning a Master of Science in Yoga Therapy from Maryland University of Integrative Health.

Along the way, Ann discovered that the key to optimal health and living your best life lies in the mind body connection. Now, using this connection, she helps people relieve pain and transform their health  through yoga and mindfulness practices–and through teaching about  the fascinating science of yoga. 

Connect with Ann on Social Media! Instagram; Facebook

Lizzy Prindle
Lizzy Prindle
Lizzy has been practicing yoga for over four years. She found her practice as her collegiate swimming career was ending; looking for a new hobby she began taking yoga classes and never looked back. She has carried her yogi mindset into her role as beYogi’s brand manager. Working alongside many teachers, studio owners, and yoga brands she has helped expand beYogi’s all-inclusive yoga insurance policy into an education-based membership offering much more than coverage.