30 Oct Why are you touching me?
*Watch Out! I do not say that there is only one valid form of asana, but that each body is anatomically different; so when I talk about corrections it is according to your body, and expressly modifying any part that may be exposed to be injured.
Lately, I have read articles and watched even Vlogs talking about adjustments in Yoga classes.
Questions like, ¨Have you ever been touched in a yoga class without asking for your consent?¨
Or ¨have they given you an unnecessary super intense adjustment?¨ are common in these articles.
I’m curious to know what the purpose of those articles are. It could easily scare a practitioner and help to minimize human contact. Perhaps, the purpose is for the student to be aware that there is no manipulation by their teacher. It could be insecurity on the part of a teacher who wants to cover his or her back. It could even be interpreted as an attack on other teaching methods.
Instead, if we look at it from the other side, teachers who constantly adjust and correct * could say the opposite:
Have you been in a Yoga class and have not been adjusted or touched? That is unacceptable!
Leaving aside exaggerations, human contact is very important but you have to take into account two fundamental elements: the way of making contact and the predisposition of the mind that inhabits the body that receives it.
Our skin is the largest sensory receptor in our body, so when someone touches us and the touch is not violent, sexual, frightening or threatening, most people who receive an adjustment will experience it as a positive connection with the other.
Touching amplifies verbal instruction and connects us with a latent wisdom in us, which we have known since childhood, a wisdom that heals body and mind.
It allows people to feel how the posture should feel and can make the student feel nourished and cared for. If the student is new or the adjustment I want to perform is deeper than usual, I always ask the students if the adjustment feels right. I constantly invite students to talk and let me know if something does not feel right.
Why are there yoga teachers who would be afraid of touching?
I believe it is potentially the most solid teaching tool both to correct alignment and to make personal contact. Especially, when you have tried verbally but the student has not yet understood. We do not all learn and process information in the same way.
If a teacher fears to guide with the touch when he knows it would help, he says more about the teacher than about the student. It could show prejudices, fears to the reaction of the student or inexperience of the teacher. It may be due to past unpleasant experiences with other students.
But it is not necessary to give up but to learn how to do it.
In addition, a well-done adjustment allows you to not only delve into the asana in terms of “overcoming” but also understanding and comfort. Understanding which muscles to move, which joints play a key role or the pace of breathing in those movements, helps you transcend the asana to find wellbeing and thus really start practicing Yoga.
Therefore, it depends on the approach, but always keeping these aspects in mind and adjusting will become an added value:
1. Be respectful. Respecting the physical limits of the student and his right to say “No”, or “Not today”.
2. Observe and interact with the student. Let him know that you will touch him without scaring him.
3. Is it his/her pose, not yours. Check your intentions before adjusting. Remembering that it is for the benefit of the student not to satisfy your ego.
4. Watch the words, tone and energy you have when adjusting, correcting, etc.
5. Practice Brahmacharya: do not let sexual energy be present at any time. As a guide, if you feel that on the student’s behalf, restrict physical interaction or be more cautious with the adjustments until the student has calmed that energy.
6. Beyond the technique. Why I’m going to touch you, what I want to convey to you beyond Asana.
It is legitimate that we all have our personal opinion based on our experience both as teachers and students, and of course based on our life experiences outside the mat that condition our mind and behaviour. However, that is why we practice Yoga to contemplate and change those conditions. Allowing to be vulnerable and feel secure by relying on our guide (teacher, guru, you name it).
It is a team transformation.
In short, picking up the reason for writing this article, I still do not find any sense in making a statement like¨The adjustments are unnecessary¨ based on NOTHING, with the aim of enhancing your teaching approach and giving a kick to the way others teach.
In my opinion, it is a pathetic way to scare practitioners who are not used to being touched and to condition the new ones.
If you want to emphasize your way of teaching, the style you teach and the way you do it, it is unnecessary to criticize or belittle the work of others. That says a lot about your teaching and person.
In case of after reading this, you still do not want to touch your students for your personal energetic, etc reasons it seems great to me but, please, do not use the view of others to justify your method.
Since if you believe in your way of teaching you do not have to justify it but simply share it.
Live your life with your heart, share from humility. And your experience will touch and heal others.
In this video you can see my 60-year-old teacher with more than 30 years of experience and practice, certified by Pathabi Jois, adjusting, placing his hands in the appropriate places for adjustment, placing his body so that he and I are safe. The connotations that you can see beyond this are a pure invention of your imagination.