Student Safety: Teach Students HOW To Be Responsible: Beginners: Student Safety

Why This is Important

Those new to asana may have little to no experience with listening to their body and distinguishing among sensations.

  • Many new students may simply not understand the value of learning to listen inwardly.
  • And some may have learned specifically to override messages from their body as part of practicing or competing in gymnastics, football or dance, for instance.

Encourage Inner Awareness

The primary foundation of personal responsibility is inner awareness.

  • Rather than telling students what to expect in poses, invite them to take note of effects in their breath and mind and what they feel in their body.
  • This can begin to transfer any expectations for responsibility and awareness from an external guide to the student herself.
  • While our focus here is on encouraging student autonomy, this tactic offers other benefits. It can give students time and space to work with the teachings. And it can help to avoid potential alienation from setting up expectations for a certain experience when the student’s experience may be different.

Teaching Students What to Do

Beyond learning to “listen to their body” students may need to be taught how to take responsibility for themselves. Following are some tactics, drawn from Nina Zolotow’s Yoga for Healthy Aging article, How to Stay Safe While Practicing Yoga.

  1. Explain what types of information students should inform their teacher about.
  2. Teach students how to distinguish sensation and pain. (See below.)
  3. Teach students to use their breath as an indication of their inner state.
  4. Teach both why and how to employ variations and adaptations. (This is vital, but in the case of beginners, it should be introduced only as needed, as opposed to a general responsibility put on the student which would overwhelm a new student. See more in Clarity of Teachings.)

With your words, actions and energy, communicate that props, adaptations, and resting are welcome and honored. (See more: Art of Teaching – Word Choice.)