When I first started teaching yoga I was terrified to touch students.
Let’s get that out in the open right away.
I was busy thinking about:
- Setting up the space
- Signing in and greeting students (while trying to remember everyone’s name)
- Checking in with students (for injuries or issues)
- Having a great music playlist
- How to model and cue poses
- Getting off my mat (not relying on always modelling poses)
- The intention and flow of my class
- Warm-up and conditioning movements
- Having the props ready
- Watching students for any signs of discomfort
- How to fit all the things I planned into 1 hour and 15 minutes
- Breathing — vital when trying to attend to this full list in my mind!
Now I realize that all of items on the list above are what I consider as assisting yoga students.
I am still learning and defining what an assist is. Here is where I am at with that at this moment.
To me — A Yoga Assist Is Not:
– An adjustment
Often I have heard assists referred to as “adjustments” and for me this word sounds like there is something that needs to be fixed or altered. It sounds really technical, almost like a teacher would adjust a student to correct them or show them how a pose “should be done.”
My belief is that a yoga assist is not intended to adjust, correct or fix a student or pose.
Don’t feel bad if you have called an assist an adjustment. I have. I try to say assist and I focus on what my intention is as I move in to assist a student.
To me — A Yoga Assist Offers:
- Help to the student
- Alignment awareness
- Increased confidence
- Safety within postures
- Muscle memory
- Attention of teacher
- Another form of communication
Hands-on assists are something that I now love to receive and give. I feel it is an art form and I am continuing to learn as I go. My intention behind why I am offering a yoga assist is key. A quick check to see if an assist will offer enhancement or understanding of a posture at a deeper level will help you to assist your students at a new level.