We met with Anji Gopal to talk all things back and hip pain and what you need to know to support your students.

In this insightful interview, Anji Gopal shares her wealth of knowledge on supporting yoga students with back pain. As a back care expert with over 15 years of clinical experience, Anji has helped countless people manage chronic low back issues. Her journey into the field began with a yoga teacher training, which sparked her passion for understanding how the practice can relieve musculoskeletal pain.

Anji now runs a range of popular yoga courses such as Managing Injured Students in Yoga Classes through Yogacampus to educate other teachers. She dives deep into functional anatomy to build teachers' confidence in accommodating injuries. Through her NHS pilot programme, Anji also saw firsthand how mind-body practices can make a difference for patients when combined with conventional medical care. Her goal is to spread awareness of prevention strategies so that back pain impacts fewer lives.

Anji offers a unique perspective on supporting all kinds of bodies on their wellness journeys. In this discussion, she shares practical teaching techniques as well as valuable lessons learned from both clinical and yoga expertise. Anji's insights will help teachers foster safer, more inclusive classes where back issues need not hold students back from finding relief and joy in yoga

Here are some key learnings and tips from our interview:

Key Learning #1: Not all yoga poses are suitable for every body. As yoga teachers, it's important to understand each student's unique capabilities and limitations to avoid potential injury. Work within a pain-free range.

Key Learning #2: Yoga alone may not provide enough support for the spine. Cross-training with exercises like Pilates that strengthen the back is especially important for older students.

Key Tip #1: Ask students the right questions to understand their back pain issues without making them feel uncomfortable sharing in a group. Adjust sequencing as needed based on injuries.

Key Tip #2: Encourage students to work at a pain-free level. Give frequent reminders that it's okay to rest or modify poses as needed. Safety should come before achieving poses.

Key Tip #3: Higher seating and props can mechanically support the lower back. Don't assume more advanced students don't need props - they are part of practising yoga at any level.

Anji's course Managing Injured Students in Yoga Classes: The Low Back & Hip is an invaluable resource for teachers to better understand anatomy and how to help students with back issues. The next course starts on 19th April 2024. Find out more and book here.

Managing Injured Students in Yoga Classes: The Low Back & Hip with Anji Gopal