How Can I Support You?

When meeting with my mentor this is the first thing she asks. Usually I have a small list of topics I wish to discuss. Everything from sharing small victories in my teaching, venting about the Yoga Industrial Complex or asking for input on a challenging situation.

We are all unique with individualized needs that when met in a reasonable way we feel safe in the world. This safety translates into our ability to do our best work and to feel more available, resilient and easeful. The thing is we have to be willing to teach the other what our specific needs are. The other has to be willing to be open to hearing those needs.

If you work one-on-one with students, are a lead trainer or mentor other teachers you need to keep in mind that your needs are different from your student's needs and you should be mindful of not imposing your needs on students. Meaning that what supports you may not support another.

When teaching a group Yoga class there are some simple steps you can take, in order to make students feel as though their time is valuable and they feel safe in the space you are creating.

  • Begin and end your class on time.

  • Mark the containment of the space by locking the door, closing the curtain or whatever protocol is in place at the studio to denote the beginning of class.

  • Make expectations known about style, level and general flow of class. Be extra vigilant if new students are present.

  • Acknowledge any quirks about the space, outside noises or other disruptions that may occur (temperature adjustments, volume of music, etc.)

  • Acknowledge the craziness of the world we live in without getting political.

  • At the beginning of class, say: "If there is anything I can do to support you during your practice, please let me know."

  • At the end of class, say: "Let me know if there is anything I can offer more support on for your practice. I'm available for questions."

At first, students may not take you up on this, but over time if you keep saying it people begin to feel more comfortable asking for additional support. Students develop a trust in you, your reliability and willingness to try and help meet their needs. All within your scope of practice, of course.

Please remember that as a Yoga teacher, you also have needs and to feel as though you are a valuable member of the community where you teach. A studio owner has an added responsibility of making sure that teachers feel supported so they are able to do their best work. There has to be space for an open dialogue between teacher and studio owner, where everyone feels comfortable enough to express how they can feel supported. (I often feel this conversation is one sided, mainly the studio owner expressing their needs and the teacher better get on board. Rarely, have I had an experience where the studio owner sits down and asks how they can be of support to the teacher and their teaching.) And the thing is the studio may not be able to do that and the teacher must decide if it's the best fit for their personality and mission. With a pervading attitude of scarcity amongst teachers and studios, sometimes this doesn't feel possible. (That seems like the subject for a whole other blog post.)

Remember support is given by your time, attention and actions. If you can't do those things then it's not support no matter your intention.

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Photos by SharetheSoul