I'm a yoga teacher, not a doctor

yoga certificates

My teacher training certificates proudly displayed on a wall in my home.

In my teacher training, we were reminded that students would ask us all kinds of questions, including us being asked to diagnose something in a student’s body.
I love talking with my students before, during and after class.
Most classes I teach a student tells me it was exactly what they needed. Usually someone tells me they feel so much better after class.
Since I go with themes someone will tell me they are in the service industry and the feet sequence was helpful or they hurt their back earlier in the week and the low back practice made them feel better or the neck sequence felt so good for their strained neck.
Sometimes I have people telling me about an issue in their body that may or may not have anything to do with the sequence I just taught and they want advice.
I can give them advice on poses they can try to help with the issue(s) in the body or poses they might want to avoid. But that’s all I can do. I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.
But if I don’t know I am honest about that. If it’s something I think I can do research on I will and will have information for the student the next time I see them.
Sometimes questions from students can be daunting or overwhelming or out of my league. I try to always remember to ask, what does your doctor say?
And if it is something out of my league I will tell the student that that is something they need to talk to their doctor about as I can’t answer.
I had a woman tell me about an issue in her body and a pose that bothered it. I told her to stop doing that pose and I suggested a modified version of the pose that would be better for her body.
In my teacher training we were told that sometimes a student feels that their yoga teacher is the first person to really listen to them about their issue. This is no slight against doctors, but doctors are busy and pretty much always behind so they need to get you in and out and get to their next patient.
I feel a connection with my students. So surely students feel a connection to their teachers. When a yoga teacher (or any exercise instructor) takes time to talk and listen to their student it could be the first time someone really listened to them and their problems/issues.
In my two years of teaching I have had students divulge all kinds of stuff to me, personal, physical, medical, emotional …
I’m a good listener and myself am not a private person so I appreciate them trusting me.
But again I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.
I’ve been teaching two years now. But I continue to learn and grow and will always as a teacher (and student of yoga).
It is best to tell your yoga teacher ahead of time about any issues in the body, especially something serious. I can give you tips to modify or poses to avoid or poses that are good for the issue.
And if I don’t know I will tell you. I may suggest a more appropriate class/teacher. I may do research and have more information for you the next time I see you.
One of my yoga teachers used to say when a woman becomes pregnant the first person who should know is your doctor, then your partner and third, your yoga teacher.
Even if you are eight months pregnant I can never assume, so please let me know. If you are early in your pregnancy and aren’t ready for the world to know I can be discreet and give you tips/modifications before class.
The more I know about you the more I can help and support you through your practice.
But again I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.
It’s also your responsibility to talk to your doctor and know as much as you can about your body. We all know our own bodies better than anyone else.
From an article on the Yoga International website: Your teacher’s job is to keep you safe and teach a class that’s appropriate for each individual’s skill level. But as a student, you bear a share of the responsibility, too.
The more information I have, the more questions my students ask, they more answers I get from students the better teacher I can be.
Sometimes a student will ask me a question about a pose. I may or may not have an answer. I may propose that question(s) to my students and ask students for their answers.
Help me help you. I want you to be safe and enjoy your yoga practice.