Keeping Yourself (and Your Students) Safe with Viniyoga

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author and Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate Jacqui Trent.   Congratulations, Jacqui, on your recent graduation! Jacqui can be contacted at

When I started this training program I’ll admit – I had no idea what Viniyoga was.  I knew very little about other lineages, but this one was completely foreign to me. My experience was in general Hatha/Vinyasa flow that didn’t really follow any sort of rules.  I’ve been in
group classes where we’d start the practice popping right into headstand, without any regard to the neck or shoulders, and (I won’t lie) I loved it!  I wasn’t sure about all these (in my first impression) “restrictions.” Now, as a WLY graduate, I have so much appreciation for these restrictions!

In January of this year I got quite a shock.  All of a sudden I felt an intense pang from my neck and shoulder all the way down my right arm as well as awful sciatica.  It basically came out of nowhere.  This pain was so debilitating that I had to completely stop all yoga and running and since then it’s only gotten worse.

While I couldn’t really say that my prior yoga experience caused my pain, I know that it didn’t help.  Every week for the past nine months, it’s become more and more apparent to me.  I should never have been starting a class in headstand; my neck and shoulders were in no way shape or form prepared for all that weight.

Two things Tracy has ingrained into our heads: “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should” and “you have to ask yourself if the risks outweigh the benefits.”  Had I not been going through this training when my pain started and had I never heard those words, I guarantee you I would be doing headstand right now (as well as other poses that could be harmful for me) instead of typing this article.

Another amazing thing I learned from Tracy is the art of sequencing practices. Yes, there are rules, but they meant for protecting and preparing the body for poses. While daunting and completely overwhelming at first, I’ve really come to love designing classes!  It’s like a puzzle.  How can you keep your student(s) safe while also meeting their needs? I’m still working on maximizing my sequences, but I believe that will only come with time.

Finally, (although I promise you I’ve learned quite a bit!) I’ve learned how to teach a class without having to do the entire practice with the students. It is my goal to talk students through the practice and only demo if needed and when it’s safe for my body (grabbing a demo student if I can’t do it). This not only allows me to more closely observe my students; it also saves me from injuring myself even more by trying to demonstrate a pose.

While I may have started this training slightly skeptical, I really see the value and beauty of this lineage.  It baffles me that not everyone would put as much emphasis on protecting your body as Viniyoga does.  It has stopped me from further injury and taught me how to keep my future students safe.  These principles will definitely always be a part of my teachings!


More information about Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program can be found at our web site:  Yoga Teacher Training at Whole Life Yoga.

One thought on “Keeping Yourself (and Your Students) Safe with Viniyoga

  1. Lisa M.Randall

    Thanks for sharing useful information. Yes you are right; Viniyoga is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts. It’s an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application.
    There are also benefits of Viniyoga that it will stabilize your sacrum, loosen back muscles, and balance out your spine.


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