101: Working With Injuries (A Solo Episode)

In teaching yoga and asana we end up working with bodies quite a lot. Many, if not most, of our students will likely  be dealing with some kind of discomfort, whether it be the aches and pains of modern living, or full-blown, diagnosed injuries. 

As yoga teachers it is entirely out of our scope to diagnose or treat pain or injuries. Full stop.  I do, however, think we should be educated and thoughtful about working with bodies in a way that allows our students’ yoga practice to be supportive, sometimes even in highly specific, physical ways.

I have studied massive amounts about anatomy, biomechanics, injuries and therapeutics, and have also worked through many very serious injuries in my own body. Because of this history I love helping fellow yoga teachers brainstorm ways to best support their students who have pain or injuries and this episode is dedicated entirely to your questions! 

In this episode, you’ll hear questions and discussions about:

  • adductor and pelvic pain
  • SI joint pain
  • nerve pain in the glutes
  • elbow pain
  • discomfort in the QL
  • burning hip discomfort in hip flexion
  • shoulder pain in overhead flexion
  • imposter syndrome when talking to healthcare providers

As promised… a picture of the SI joints!

Related Episodes You Should Check Out:

This episode is sponsored by OfferingTree!   Sign up at www.offeringtree.com/mentor to get 50% off your first three months (or 15% off any annual plan).  With OfferingTree, yoga teachers put their schedule on a personally branded website where students can book classes and even pay or donate online.  All of this can be set up in 10 minutes or less.  OfferingTree supports me with each sign-up.

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6 Responses to “101: Working With Injuries (A Solo Episode)”

  1. Karen

    I am wondering if you have modified a yoga practice for a student(s) with osteoporosis? I recently found out that my osteopenia progressed into concerning numbers of osteoporosis. I have researched yoga for osteoporosis online and through text books. Most of the research I follow is from physical therapist and “bone strengthening coaches”. Two physical therapist I have followed are Sara Meeks, and Margaret Martin. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s because I am in denial about my condition, but I am still seeking more advice! I would love to get advice, resource recommendations, etc from a yoga instructor such as yourself. You have a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge about the human body. I believe you may have some valuable insights.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Karen! I have occasionally modified an asana practice for someone with osteoporosis, but it was on a very individual basis (IE: did only moderate amounts of weight bearing on the hands if wrists were a problem). I think if you are following the advice of PTs and bone strengthening coaches that you are in good hands! Some of the Yoga for Osteoporosis stuff I’ve seen paints with big, broad strokes, in a way, that in my view, is not that helpful. Like I’ve seen some teachers say that no student over 65 should ever move through spinal flexion because of concerns about osteoporosis in the spine. That seems way too conservative to me, because what we know for sure is that if you stop moving through spinal flexion you will definitely lose access to that movement! It may be appropriate for some people, but certainly not all people! Does that make sense?

      • Karen

        Thank you for you reply. What you said does make sense. I agree with you that restricting spinal flexion should not be omitted because of osteoporosis because of the reason you mentioned. Perhaps if a student has a spinal fracture that movement should be omitted. I guess I am looking for confirmation that with proper alignment, spine straight, flexion at the hips is safe.

      • Francesca Cervero

        Ahh, I hear you! In general I would defer to physical therapists and bone strengthening coaches– especially if they know your body well. That said, I think there is a false narrative in the yoga world that certain kinds of alignment are safe, and others are dangerous. The movement (in very general terms) that is “safest” is the one we are prepared for, and in my view, the best way to be prepared for all different kinds of movement is to do them! We spend huge chunks of the day in hip flexion (sitting!!) and use the movement of hip flexion to bend down and pick things up, and we don’t worry about being in perfect alignment when we do that, nor in my view, do we need to. I would say the best thing to do is to work on building even strength through the whole hip capsule and core and back, and know that there is not a certain way of aligning the body that can really protect it. Does that make sense?

  2. Karen

    Yes, all that you said makes a lot of sense. Thanks for taking the time to read/listen to my concerns and reply. I appreciate all the information you share.


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