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.What is a Yoga Assist - Art of Assists - Module 1 Newsprint

To me — A Yoga Assist Is Not:

– An adjustment

– Correcting

– Fixing

– Altering

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.savasana gratitude

To me — A Yoga Assist Offers:

  • Help to the student
  • Enhancement
  • Understanding
  • Alignment awareness
  • Relaxation
  • Proprioception
  • Increased confidence
  • Safety within postures
  • Deepening
  • Muscle memory
  • Attention of teacher
  • Another form of communication
  • Nurturing
  • Support

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.

Photos by Dianne Brandon Photography


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