As an Occupational Therapy Assistant in a rehabilitative settings, I have seen far too many individuals suffer in pain due to work-related distress that have snowballed into a chronic life changing injury. In fact, a survey of Occupational Injuries & Illness performed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered “nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2014”. 3 MILLON! Interestingly, “Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 32 percent of all injury and illness cases.” Knowing that most MSDs can be prevented through awareness of body mechanics, maintenance of body blind spots and applying ergonomics to activities, it would seem that the movement healers should take heed to this statistic for the benefit of their clients and their own careers’ alike. Despite our diverse training and teaching backgrounds, we all can relate to the reality that the health of our physical body is a huge component to the success and longevity of our teaching careers.
Much like the cultivation of your unique teaching qualities, you must also nurture the way you move both in and outside of class. Our work demands not only a few moments of impeccable demonstrations, but economical positioning when you are preparing for your classes, while you are demonstrating poses, and most definitely required when you are adjusting your students.
It has been said that character is defined by how an individual treats people or situations when no one is looking – the same can be said for body mechanics. How you move behind the scenes when no one is looking defines how you will move in the spotlight. Your students are not only watching the way you move, but also mirroring it. It’s the classic monkey-see monkey do effect and it occurs more often than we think. A majority of the population are visual learners, some are auditory learners and a small percentage are kinesthetic.
So what are you visually projecting? What does your body’s position say to the world right now? As functional movement educators we have the responsibility to not only accurately demonstrate our concepts in front of the class, but also to integrate those “moments” of impeccable mechanics into the everyday activities outside of our teaching environments. If you want to be an effective and influencing teacher of any movement style, take advantage of the fact that a majority of your students are visual learners and lead by example.
Start telling your story of mindful movement through your body language from the moment you walk into the classroom, the way your carry your bags, props and even your YTU balls are a representation of how you allow your practice to influence your everyday movement. When lifting or picking up items, widen your base of support (your feet), bend both knees, hinge at your hips, keep your spine neutral, shoulders engaged and keep the object(s) close to your body even if it is just your foam yoga block.
While this sounds like common sense, how often do you actually move this way? Be a constant demonstration of the importance of body mechanics.
Come back later this week for my next article to learn how you can combine your Yoga Tune Up® practice into your yoganomics specifically during hands-on adjustments in order to teach smarter, not harder.
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