Yoga Teacher Training - Safe Variations

Introducing Safe Variations - by Mark Giubarelli

Teaching highly effective yoga classes requires the inclusion of optional safety variations. This not only protects the practitioners in the class but also protects the Yoga instructor.


Studies have shown that giving safe alternatives in yoga classes significantly reduces the occurrence of injury.

Examples of giving safe variations are giving people an option of not entering Upward Facing Dog or Cobra pose too deeply if individuals have back injuries.


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Another example would be offering people with knee injuries variations for postures that strain the knee joint. Pigeon pose often aggravates knee injuries and has been the cause of many major knee injuries in class. A skilled yoga instructor will always give safe variations for those with injured joints and muscles.

Learn to identify when practitioners are clearly suffering or have a distinct look at discomfort when practicing. Try to identify if the suffering occurs when trying to enter a posture or while in a posture. Learn to know the difference between a normal look of struggle and one that is related to an injury.


A highly skilled yoga instructor has a very sharp eye like the eyes of hawk. This allows you to reflect verbally with instructions on comfort and safety.


Always be tuned into your practitioners and how they are responding to the exercises you are guiding them through. Pay special attention when people show clear signs of discomfort as this is as sure sign that an injury is present, then give guiding advice on how to protect the injured area and offer a simply variation.


Encourage practitioners to be safe, aware and self responsible.

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