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May 02, 2012 06:06 PM

Importance Of A Yoga Instructor's Certification

SIOUX FALLS, SD

From professional athletes to people just looking to get into shape, everyone is getting into yoga these days.

And while the practice can put your body through all sorts of bends and twists that could harm you if not done properly, South Dakota has no regulations on just who can call themselves a yoga instructor or "yogi."  But there are things you should look for in an instructor to make sure your yoga practice doesn't do more harm than good.

Chantel Olson started taking part in yoga classes two years ago.

"It's just changed my life, the people who I'm surrounded by and it lifts my spirits. It's good exercise. It's good for relaxation," Olson said.

When choosing an instructor, Olson admits she didn't do a lot of research.  But she was glad to hear her instructor is certified.

"He told us of his training almost right away. He went to Kripalu," Olson said.

While yoga offers a lot of health benefits, if you don't do the poses correctly, you could end up hurting yourself.

"There are many cases of people getting injured in yoga classes, doing yoga on your own," Dharma Room Co-owner Sean Gallup said.

Gallup says that's why it's important to make sure your instructor is certified, even though South Dakota does not currently have a requirement.

"It is certainly possible for you to get injured doing a yoga practice, especially if the instructor is not fully licensed, doesn't really know all their schooling and what they're doing," Gallup said.

Gallup, himself, has a 200-hour certification from the nationally-recognized Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Would-be yogi's study everything from yoga techniques to physiology and anatomy. Gallup also says it's also important that students feel comfortable with the class.

"If you feel good about the instructor and have a good working relationship with them, it will be alright," Gallup said.

It's also important to listen to your body, because not every yoga position is for every person.

"Because your body knows, and if you're paying attention to your body, it will tell you before you're going to get an injury. If you're not listening to your body, that's when injuries happen," Gallup said.

Olson says she's never been injured and says her certified instructor is a big reason why.

"It makes me feel good. It helps me sleep at night. It helps me lose weight, be more mindful about what I put in my body and all that," Olson said.

One other thing to consider when looking for a yoga instructor is that if your instructor is not certified, he or she also might not have insurance if you are injured in a class.

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