Recently I took a class from a very well known yoga instructor. While it was a great class for her and her body, it was not for mine. In fact, I left early when my right shoulder started complaining very loudly. I have to believe there were others in the room who were also in pain but wouldn’t think of leaving because of a ‘the teacher is teaching xyz pose, so it must be good for me’ mentality.
Personally I never understood why people put up with pain in exercise classes, until my own students did it in mine. And they did it when I thought I was doing everything I could to relieve their pain. In my particular case, it happened to be with Therapy Ball work (see my related blogs Good Things Come in Threes, and Balls to the Wall, and the Blanket, and…), but to me this illustrates a more important point.
As teachers, we never intend to lead students into a pose that is inappropriate for them or ask them to do an exercise that could cause greater pain, but it can happen. However, students must take responsibility for their own bodies and not just accept what we are asking them to do because we are the teachers. I have some students who view their workout time as their ‘zone out’ time, but I do everything I can to get them to process what they are doing and why. By using the Therapy Balls to help them literally get a feel for their muscles and explaining why I’m instructing the warm ups I am, my students can physically connect my words with their bodies and determine for themselves what is appropriate. Only they feel what’s happening inside their bodies, but I can educate them how to feel and heal for themselves. And that’s an invaluable skill I want them to have long after they leave my classes.
Apologies to the Chinese proverb: Give a student some body work and you heal him for a day. Teach a student about his body and you heal him for a lifetime.
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Here’s some more YTU Therapy Ball work, this time for the Shoulders: