Teaching Hatha Yoga – Students With Pre-existing Conditions and Yoga Teacher Continuing Education

All of the subjects mentioned below will require much additional research on your part, but let's briefly go over a question and answer session about students who need special care in your classes.

Q: Over the weekend, I met up with a student that is in her early twenties (about 23-24, maybe) and she is interested in Yoga. She is in her first trimester of her third pregnancy. Is there something I should be concerned with?

I have been to many Yoga classes in the past where there were indeed women far into their pregnancies and noted that my instructor paid some special attention to them on the dos and don'ts.

A: About the first trimester of pregnancy: Unfortunately, the potential for liability suits has caused many of us to reconsider, and advise my students towards a prenatal specialist. It is much safer for pregnant students in a specialized class, under the guidance of a prenatal Yoga specialist.

Q: Another thing is about hip replacements: A student (in her fifties) had hip replacements about 14 years ago. Are there any concerns I need to be aware of or let her know her limitations?

A: Yoga for Hip Replacements: I strongly recommend researching this subject thoroughly before teaching this student. Needless to say, there are many contraindications, which relate to the specific type of hip replacement.

It is advisable to ask a student, with a hip replacement, for her doctor's recommendation or a doctor's note explaining the type of hip replacement.

The exact surgical approach her doctor took is very important. For example: Was it a total replacement? Was the implant posterior or anterior? Each of these situations is different and some postures will be modified or eliminated exclusively as a result.

Q: While I am on the subject, my neighbor (late 40's) had neck surgery about 6 years ago, and I know that her cervical region is limited. Are there any concerns here?

A: Yes, there are many concerns. In the case of Yoga for a pre-existing cervical spinal injury: Anything that causes her pain in the spine must be stopped.

This condition depends upon her doctor's advice, because of the type of surgery and the source of the problem. Extreme bending or twisting, in the neck, should be modified or deleted from her practice. It is important to note that neck rolls, and neck hyperextensions, should not be practiced by any student, regardless of their medical history.

Some mild bending or twisting may also cause pain. In this case, she should not push into pain. Students with pre-existing problems, anywhere in the spine, have to respect and avoid pain.

Yoga teachers should be cautious and give gentle guidance, when a student has any form of a pre-existing health condition or injury. In some cases, Yoga teachers should refer their students to a Yoga specialist.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications