Adjustment vs Assist.
(shared first on IG, but I definitely thought this one was blog worthy).
One thing that has changed about my teaching drastically in the last 15 years is how I touch other humans in class. I prefer the term “assist” these days to “adjust”… so that even the word conveys that I am facilitating rather than personally altering someone’s process.
In this photo, which is about as intimate as I get these days, I am stabilizing a student’s pelvis with my knees by firmly squeezing the outer hips, bracing myself with one hand on the floor, and asking her to PUSH my opposite hand instead of ME PUSHING HER… so that she can get feedback in her own nervous system to ACTIVATE and ENGAGE rather than “surrender” and hand over control to me.
I think touch *can be* a beautiful way to instruct, but there is so much nuance and so many variables to consider when we enter a teaching space where touch is a possibility. Here are some of my current best practices:
I am attempting to always use consent cards in my large group classes, so that at any given moment I know before I approach a student, that student is ok with me entering her space on a basic level.
I almost never touch a student to SOLELY move him, rather, I ask him to meet me and explain the work we do together. He maintains full authority over his effort and how far he goes.
I do not brush a student lightly or otherwise cause confusion by touch that is vague or “soft”. I have learned various “feel good” adjustments over the years, and probably taught some once upon a time, but those days are over. There is a time and place for massage. Group yoga class is not it.
Even with a “yes” consent card, if any assist I give is anywhere near an intimate space (belly, inner thigh, armpit, upper chest, etc.) I ask point blank, “is it ok if I put my hand on _______”? This way I get a double positive before offering a touch.
I never assume I know what a student is feeling so I ask open questions like “does this feel better, worse, or the same?”, or “what part of your body calls your attention most while we work here?” instead of a vague and difficult to answer “is this ok?”…
I now think that letting students have their own experience is a better gift than me walking in and taking over, even with my words. More often than not, if I see something that I used to think of as “bad alignment”, unless it’s posing a real danger to the student, I tend to let it be. If anything, I use it as an opportunity to be a better teacher by making note to demonstrate or cue in a clearer way the next time.
This kind of nuance and consideration will be discussed at length in our upcoming teacher education #theInsightBody starting September, 2019….
I’m sure some of you have some other great practices… please share them! Also, please feel free to send your thoughts on my own points. Dialogue keeps us evolving.
#practicesmarter #practicelife #yogaassists #yogaadjustments #yogateacher #autonomy #bestpractices