Hi! If you’ve been reading my yoga diaries, I’m so happy to see you back! And if it’s your first time reading, welcome!
This morning, Instead of my usual 2-hour asana practice where I get real personal with myself, I decided to get real personal with others and did a 2-hour hands on assist! What’s better than starting off your day to connect and make an impact on another persons life? I was so in and excited while riding the bus and train to Pure West today that I woke up extra early today (4:15am), yet I still missed that early bus. LOL! Nevertheless, I didn’t regret missing out my practice at all and learned so much from all the people I was assisted.
So what are my takeaways?
- Get yourself comfortable. I would say this is the same technique I apply when giving a venipuncture to a patient in the office as a medical assistant. No matter how nervous you may feel on the inside, you need to feel assured and confident with what you are working with because you have nothing to worry about if you have the knowledge and skills! Just imagine getting your blood drawn by someone whose eyes are gazing back and forth on the crease of your arm with the butterfly needle trembling in their hands! In a sense you are penetrating their safe space, so they are extra sensitive and can feel everything that you feel (such as your nervousness). So this is your chance to provide that sense of comfort so an opportunity to build trust and establish a relationship can cultivate from here on.
- Less is more. As a new yogi in training, it is easy to want to go above and beyond and use all the assists that we learn in class on the students. However, certain assists are beneficial for one but it may not be for another. For example, when assisting a person whose shoulders and chest are not as open in prasarita padottanasana we may want to put more focus on opening up the chest. Whereas someone who can already touch the floor with their hands wouldn’t benefit from that opening and would benefit more by putting more focus on deepening the posture. It’s almost like a doctor giving out a prescription. You observe their postures and breathing, then you come up with a diagnoses, and finally give a yoga assisting “prescription”. Haha.
- Have open communication. This is important because this is a great opportunity to connect with the student and understand them at a more personal level. What brings them to yoga? Do they have physical injuries or emotional stress? This will also allow you to become a better teacher because then you will know what it is you need to focus on or be aware of. I also am able to gain a better understanding of what my weakness and strengths are based on their feedback. This has played a significant role in increasing my confidence in becoming a teacher.
- Set your intention. I think this is my method of staying true to what I want to teach. Why am I teaching and what do I want them to feel after they leave the room and go about their day? I know I want to create a supportive and sustainable yoga environment. I want to bring my energy into their yoga practice that is inflential and positive. Simply put, I want you to feel that although you are doing the work, I am there doing yoga with you! And I think it works because it’s all about connecting with energy. Every sensation is felt and what we feel is what we remember the most. If you put your intention into practice, they will feel it and it will make a great impact!
- Feel and be energetically intuitive. Here I’m talking about two very simple things. Feel for their breathing and energy. And once you feel it, translate that energy onto yourself and use it. Remember, as a teacher we are not just giving, the students are too and we can take their energy to work with our own and vice versa. Listen to their breathing and breath with them. When they exhale, move and guide with energy. Using your students energy as a guidance is an important tool. Being sensitive to their energies also allowed me to notice a few things. There are students who likes to be assisted on certain postures. And some like to be assisted halfway through their postures. They want to try it on their own first and then get assisted. And that’s amazing because yoga is also a self independent practice. As a teacher we are just there to provide a safe space that is encouraging and supportive. So that the student can benefit a more sustainable practice on their own even when they’re not practicing at the studio. Which is exactly my intension! 🙂 So you see how useful it is to be energetically sensitive?
Today, I initially felt like I would miss my own practice. However, I found myself really enjoying the assisting and even felt like I was doing yoga but in a different way. I didn’t even feel missed out on my practice today! I also got some invaluable feedbacks from my fellow yogis who I assisted and appreciate it very much. It was also a very rewarding experience as well to see that your efforts and intentions are well-translated and benefits others. I am in no means a good teacher, there is so much to learn and I’m excited to keep learning!