Hands on Assists in Yoga: Intention Matters
Hands on assists in yoga classes offer students the opportunity to experience possibility in a pose that they may not otherwise experience without the assist. When I receive an empowering and supportive hands on assist in yoga, I am inspired to discover what else is possible for me in my yoga practice. I also feel connected to the teacher and it makes me want to go back to his or her class. I have also received assists that left me feeling unsupported and at times even "weirded out" by the experience. When this happens, it leaves me wondering why the teacher assisted me. Sometimes, even with the best of teachers, hands on assists in yoga get messy and even weird. As a teacher who provides hands on assists on a regular basis, I have at times caused students to lose their balance rather than increase it; I have made accidental encounters with body parts; and I have done assists that simply failed. Yet, even through these awkward experiences, the students are left empowered because my intention is clear. And my intention with every assist is to be a stand for the growth of my student in his/her yoga practice and provide appropriate support.
A few years ago I went to Miami, FL and participated in Baptiste Yoga™ Art of Assisting. I spent three days learning how to serve others and allowing others to serve me in making our yoga practice more powerful. I gained knowledge on where to put my hands and body when assisting students in various yoga poses. We focused on finding optimum alignment to empower students to ground down, rise higher, or feel a pose more deeply. And while all of that was very valuable, the most important thing I learned about assisting a student in a yoga pose is this: When I set my intention to serve my student and follow through with my intention, I give great hands on assists! Connect with your student and be there to support him or her. You may put your hands in the wrong spot and you may throw them out of balance, and you may not even get your hands on them. And all of that is okay. When you create an intention to really be there for the student, they connect with that and feel you serving them.
At the hands on assist training in Miami, FL, I was working with a partner to get out of flip dog and I had no idea where to put my hands. As I was trying so hard to figure it out, she got fatigued in the pose and said "I need your support!" and started to try to get out of the pose. I immediately responded because I really wanted to support her. I got my hands on her. She came out of flip dog thanking me for being there for her: "That was so supportive, it felt great!" she said. I am still not sure where my hands went, but I know what my intention was!
Do you want to gain the skills to provide hands on assists in yoga classes and empower your students to discover new possibilities in their yoga practice? Register today for Assist and Discover! Our intention is to support you and provide you with the tools to support your students!
Dr. Trish Corley is a Baptiste certified yoga teacher and a licensed doctor of physical therapy. She leads Yoga Alliance accredited teacher trainings and various workshops and training for students and teachers.