What You Really Should Know About Yoga Assists

Are you in need of your own space and pace during your your practice?

Part of the curriculum of a yoga teacher training is to educate future teachers to provide safe hands-on assists. Being encouraged and supported to go deeper in a twist or to open further in cobra can feel marvelous in the body and the mind; but it can also feel daunting or excessive on a day when you just need to take it slow.

So how can you address this and follow your own rhythm?

There are days when we just want something different from our yoga practice. Between a busy professional life, a full on social or family life or both, it is natural to want to slow down or soothe yourself. While you may not want to miss your regular class, here are a few ways to make your instructor aware of your needs.

Speak to the teacher before the class

Arrive 10 minutes before your class starts and approach your teacher. It gives you a chance to discuss privately rather than answering the usual question the instructor asks at the start of the class “does anyone has any injuries?” in front of a room full of people you may not know.

It may seem the most logical thing to do but it can sometimes prove challenging as the teacher may still be speaking with a student from a previous class, be busy setting up the room or equipment or you may just not be feeling like sharing your personal situation with them. So what else can you do?

Position yourself in the room

Once again, arrive early so you can choose your spot in the room. What worse than being in the front row when you just want to slow down (speaking from experience here)?

Decide on the best emplacement for you that day, maybe at the back of the room, maybe on the wall side away from the mirrors or if it is a quirky space and you are in the mood, why not find a discreet and not easily accessible area.

Politely refuse the assist

If you rather prefer to enjoy your usual spot, you still have the option to say “No thanks” when the teacher approaches you. You will not upset them by refusing their assist, on the contrary! Yoga is noncompetitive and your instructor will surely appreciate knowing that you are listening to your body that day.

Use consent cards

Rather than addressing the room or assuming that all students want assists, some yoga teachers use consent cards. Usually discreet and small, they are marked one side Yes and the other side No. You place it in a visible place around your mat, and can even flip it during the practice if you changed your mind. Consent cards are a great way to empower you to indicate your preference for that specific class and on that specific day.

Remember, Yoga is a non competitive practice and each body is different. Only YOU know how YOU feel today and how far YOU can or want to go.


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