Assisting workshop: 7 things every yoga teacher should know

The Art of Assisting workshop for yoga teachers takes place on Saturday, 24th June. Book now on: www.durga.ie/yogalab

An amazing assist in yoga class – that bit of help that enables you to move deeper into a stretch or that trust you know you can place in a confident teacher as they guide you safely into an inversion – can make all the difference to your progression as a yogi.

As teachers we want to know that the students in our classes are getting to experience that magical sensation of really connecting with a pose. Skillful assisting can make this happen.

Here are 7 things every yoga teacher should know about assisting in a yoga class:

  1. Assisting is offered in class, not to “fix” a student in a pose, but to allow them to move into the fullest version of the pose for their body in that moment. Teachers use hands-on assisting to encourage good alignment, safe practice and to help students to experience a pose in a new way.
  2. An assist in yoga class should never bring a student past their edge or to a place where they are uncomfortable. A student should never have to worry about being injured in class and, as a teacher, you certainly don’t ever want to injure your student. At the end of the day, students come to yoga to feel good – yoga practice should enable them to be more comfortable in the body with which they are blessed.
  3. As a teacher you should always have a specific purpose for placing your hands on a student. Know the alignment and actions of every pose you assist and use that as a guide to take your student deeper.
  4. Assisting is never about the teacher, it is always about the student. As a teacher, you need to assess the body that is in front of you, use sensitivity of touch, and notice any resistance in the physical and/or mental body. Only go as far as your student is comfortable with.
  5. Be in the present moment – this is one of the best ways to practice safe assisting. When the mind wanders, that subtle connection with the student can be lost.
  6. Observe your students with a soft eye before you start to assist to notice what they would benefit from most. Each student is different and should be treated on an individual basis. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to assisting. You need to know many ways to assist the same pose, so that you can do what is right for the student in front of you.
  7. Some students don’t like to be assisted and that’s ok too. Tune into your students and you will very easily tell if they want you to touch them or not. Some students don’t want anyone in their personal space, others may have experienced an unpleasant assist before they came to your classes, or perhaps they are pregnant or protecting an injury. Whatever the reason is, if you get the vibe that a student prefers not to be assisted, then respect their choice so they can continue to enjoy your class.

Learn the art of great assisting and your students will come back to you again and again.

‘The Art of Assisting”, a workshop designed to help yoga teachers master hands-on assisting, will take place in Durga Yoga, Maynooth on Saturday, June 24th. The workshops is accredited as continued professional development with Yoga Alliance – Book now on: www.durga.ie/yogalab