During my 200 yoga teacher training, I was told “the safest assist is no assist.” This makes sense to me, especially teaching yoga in a place such as The Yoga Loft at the eXtreme Hotel. There is a constant flow of students coming and going, and even though it’s easy to feel a connection with students early on, developing a teacher/student relationship takes trust and time.
Yoga assists, or adjustments, are where a yoga teacher physically touches the student either to shift, adjust or enhance the posture. Common adjustments are pressing into the lower back during Downward Facing Dog, pressing on the lower and upper back in Child’s pose or giving a light massage/ shoulder press during Savasana.
Safety is of the utmost importance as a teacher and student of yoga. Physically touching students can trigger any trauma, physical or emotional, that the student has experienced. Without knowing your students you are much less likely to know their history, their pain or their fears that they might bring with them to their mat.
As a teacher the last thing I would want to do is trigger a painful memory or experience for a student. That is the opposite of what I view my job to be. Yoga can be a great tool for people that have experienced trauma but because we don’t often get direct one on one time with students, unless in a private session, we don’t always have time to ask the necessary questions. And let’s face it, even if we did have the time to ask every student, they might not feel comfortable sharing or discussing that information with us. As a teacher, the risk does not feel worth the reward.