Helping Hands – Why Your Balanced Life Yoga Teacher Wants to Assist You by Katie Callaghan
It’s About Connection.
The word “yoga” means union: a union of body, mind, and spirit, and a union between ourselves and those around us. At Balanced Life Yoga our teachers thrive on this state of connection with you, our students and seek to create this connection for you too. Rather than teach in a bubble, we want to connect with you so you will see we move around the room and assist students through both verbal and hands on touch. When you are in our class, you aren’t just another body – you are a part of a connected yoga community. You bring your unique energy into the room, and you automatically become our honoured student and teacher. To connect with you fully, means that we learn about the abilities of your body, your intention for practice, and how we can serve you better including hands on assisting.
When I receive an assist in class, I automatically feel that the teacher cares about my practice. I feel special. The fact that my teacher looked out into a room of thirty yogis and chose ME to assist, makes me feel like she is observing my body, and making an effort to make me feel protected and nurtured. Rather than leave me frustrated and hanging in a collapsed triangle pose, she empathizes with my plight (we’ve all been there), and helps me find more ease in the pose. From this healing touch, I often feel a greater connection to the teacher, even if we only spoke a few words before class. With a simple touch, I feel as if we have connected through the language of our bodies, which we know can often be deeper and more genuine than a verbal exchange.
When your teacher uses an assist to enhance your pose, they don’t intend to make you feel inept or flawed. Instead, these assists can help you to practise the pose more safely. When teachers walk around a room full of yogis, we visualize how the pose is affecting your knees, hips, and back. When we see that the pose could be doing damage, it is our duty to serve you better, and make the pose safe. Sure, this might mean that we bring you into a modified pose that doesn’t look like it could be on the cover of a yoga magazine, but this also means your knees will thank you at the end of class.
Open Your Wings and Soar.
There is nothing better, as a teacher, to see the radiant, beaming smile of your student as he or she lets go of fear and conquers a pose that might have seemed insurmountable moments earlier. As I stand behind a student and support them in half-moon pose, I’m not just supporting their body, I’m supporting their ability to overcome mental obstacles like fear, doubt, and uncertainty.
It Feels so Darn Good.
How often do we really experience a helping and healing touch? For those of us who are at a point in our lives without a loving partner, or close family nearby, we might go weeks without being touched by another person. Years ago, when I first moved to Victoria to study at the University of Victoria, I had gone weeks without experiencing human touch. It wasn’t until taking a yoga class I realized how much I had missed the powerful energy of human connection.
Human touch can help our brain release endorphins and thus release stress we hold in the body and mind. After a stressful day, a simple hands-on adjustment during Savasana, (the final resting pose) can help you relax more deeply into the pose.
So next time you have the pleasure of receiving a hands-on adjustment in class, remember: your teacher is helping you find the “ahhh” in yoga!
Namaste, Yogis! The teacher and student within me honours the teacher and student within you.
Katie Callaghan (Percy)
Katie Callaghan is a Studio Teacher at Balanced Life Yoga, a Can-Fit-Pro certified Personal Trainer, and high school English teacher. She is passionate about sharing the powerful benefits of yoga with her fellow yogis: Katie has created a Yoga Club for Teens at her high school, and she is thrilled to be teaching the three part beginner series and Power Hour classes at Balanced Life Yoga. Meet Katie at http://www.balancedlifeyoga.ca/welcome/our-team/?trainer_id=100000086
Click here for our Beginner Yoga page with tons of great information about our Intro & Beginner series!!