Thursday, August 19, 2010

Regulations? Responsiblity? Training?

So a lot of discussion lately within the yoga community and the world about whether or not yoga needs to be state regulated. I recently watched a video of a CBS news report about injury and the rising number of yoga injuries, etc. 

Yes, people can get injured in yoga class.  Not all postures are good for all bodies.  Yes there are inexperienced teachers out there.  I was one of them.  Even with a 200 hour certification, you can't be prepared for what happens in a class until you actually start teaching them. 

What was interesting about the video is while the woman who was injured, had bulging discs, blames yoga for the injury, she never did state why or how she thinks she got injured.  I can probably take an educated guess.  One pose, Uttanasana, standing forward fold, can be VERY dangerous for your back if done inproperly.  Even though I tell students, "bend your knees to bring your chest to your thighs to protect your back from rounding" most students don't do it.  Even when I physically walk over to a student and tell them,"bend your knees to protect your back", pretty soon, they're back to doing the same thing, round back to get their hands at the floor.

Roger Cole writes some great articles for Yoga Journal about protecting the back and what is going on in the back in forward folds.  There is so much that yoga does that benefits the body but yes, you can get injured from doing the poses, whether in proper alignment or not. 

But more specifically, when more yoga classes are being offered in gyms, condominium activity rooms and corporate conference rooms, places where props are often not offered or even discouraged from use, where does the responsibility lie?  This video really doesn't offer any solutions, nor does it specifically or clearly outline a problem.  It's claim that the yoga industry is unregulated and therefore, regulation would solve the problem.  Is the oil industry unregulated and did that stop the gulf spill?  I do think there should be some sort of guidelines and the industry is responding to that with 200 and 500 hour certifications.  But even at that, there are some studios and corporations that offer those and their offerings are more of a way to earn income than properly educate teachers, as we see in this reporter's "certification."  There was a recent article about finding a plastic surgeon and how you should be careful and choose one that's certified through one of THREE different board certification governing bodies.  It's really confusing and difficult to find someone who is a DOCTOR who has a certification to do a medical procedure.  More regulations aren't always an answer and just because someone has a certain certification doesn't make them a better doctor or yoga teacher. 

I am pretty bodily aware now.  I've been doing yoga for 10+ years, also running and dance.  What I can tell you is this:  When I'm in a class at a gym and a teacher is telling me to jump from one place to another, I don't jump.  Because I have a bad knee and the impact from jumping would hurt my knee worse.  Just because a teacher is telling me to do something doesn't mean it's good for me or that  I have to do it.  If a teacher is telling me that I could injure myself doing something not quite in alignment, I should listen to that.   There's a balance between personal responsibility and teaching responsibility. 

As a teacher, I'm responsible to continue my training and learning.  I'm responsible for teaching what I know and not what I don't know.  While I hope that my students listen, sometimes they don't.  While in some environments, like studios, I have the ability to take time and really work on alignment issues and use props.   In some environments, like gyms, often the emphasis is on fitness and there aren't props to help students work with their imbalances so I do what I can. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More on the practicing yoga on a budget....

So here's the deal,  as a teacher, I find it difficult to make my living entirely off of teaching yoga.  It's a common misconception that yoga teachers make an enormous amount of money.  Trust me, I wouldn't be waiting tables if that were the case.  I wouldn't be doing accounting jobs either.  There are times that physically I need a break.  But if I am injured, sometimes I still have to teach.  Which is why I think Jennifer You is a rock star because from seated, she has been teaching with a torn achilles.  Pattabi Jois (founder of Ashtanga Yoga) taught from seated later in his life.  He no longer practiced the vigorous sequences.  Which brings me to my next misconception.  That we have to do a certain style of yoga each time or it's not "right" for us.  That is a big misconception.  When I am venturing into a new class, there may be something that I don't prefer or like about a class.  That doesn't mean that the teacher is bad or that the class or style is bad, it's just different.  It's not wrong.  Some people respond to a teacher that yells at them or hits them.  That may be what they need.  It's definitely not for me.  But it's not my journey.  Which leads me to my last point or misconception.  That somehow if it's donation, or inexpensive that it isn't quite good enough.  That somehow that diminishes the value of the practice.  I have many friends that were not only introduced to yoga at their local YMCA, but practiced for years under a teacher that had DECADES of teaching experience.  So with those things to think about, I give you my latest recommendations for doing yoga all over San Diego on a budget:

Fitness Chains
They have locations everywhere and I teach for them.  Yes, their rooms are not the best for yoga.  No, they don't have mats.  But with so many locations, variety of teachers to choose from, students come because they love the teacher and they practice wherever.  No, you're not going to get the kind of instruction that you would at a studio.  You can get a monthly membership for around $39.  Sometimes cheaper. 

San Diego Yoga Collective Hopper Pass
This is available and the best deal in town for this kind of thing.  OB Namaste Yoga in Ocean Beach, Prana Yoga Center in La Jolla and Little Yoga Studio of San Diego teamed up and created this.  Most of these studios already offer a discount, first week or first class free to new students.  What the hopper pass enables you to do is go to each of these studios.  Three classes for $30 or 15 classes for $175.  So you can hopp around and get some of the best instruction, I've been to all three studios and thoroughly enjoyed each of them.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Money isn't the object

Get off your _____ and get on your mat!
Here is a list of places, besides One Love Yoga San Diego, where you can get donation based or discounted prices on your yoga:

San Diego Yoga Loft
Downtown San Diego a lot of offernigs at a Donation.

Red Lotus Society
Downtown San Diego, lots of offerings, meditation, etc.

Poses-Yoga, Eastlake
I work here, one of the best deals is for local, Eastlake or Chula Vista residents, 7 days of yoga for $7.  It's a smaller studio, smaller classes, gives you more of an intimate feeling and more attention than the big "churn and burn" studios.  Local owners, beautiful studio, worth your time to check out. 

Akasha Yoga, La Jolla
Yes, I work here too, but obviously not all of these places I work.  First time students can get a 3 class for $20 pass.  That works out to be a little less than $7 a class and it gives you a month to try out the studio.  They also have different membership levels,offering great discount.  This is a small studio, classes never get too big so you have a more intimate feeling and it's locally owned. 

UCSD Recreation Department
I know a lot of people who work in the La Jolla area by Torrey Pines in the Biotech 'farms' up there.  Rather than get into your car and spend the next hour sitting on Genesse to get to the 5, go take a yoga class up the street.  Most of the classes are in RIMAC, as a part of the FIT LIFE program there.  Yes you have to pay for parking, but sometimes you get lucky and find a spot nearby.  And trust me, everyone is trying to get out of there so you're more likely to not pay.  The cost varies depending on what class you want to take.  But for example, one of the Saturday classes cost $55 for the quarter.  That was 8 classes for $55.  Do you need me to do the math on that?  There are also unlimited class passes available for the quarter.

I'm going to do a little more research and keep posting these things that I find.  Stay tuned....