dimanche 17 février 2019

The Importance of Touch Connect with Students

The Importance of Touch

Connect with Students

The Power of Connection 
We are not a touch culture. When we greet someone we nod and smile or, at our most affectionate, shake hands.  And that’s the extent of physical contact we tend to get from the outside world. How many people do you really get to hug on a daily basis? How often are you touched with intention and caring? Genuine intimacy is a rare gem these days. 
Let me share a story: 
I had a student who came to a Monday night class of mine every week for years. One day she stayed after class and asked if she could talk with me. In this quiet moment she finally revealed why she attended my class so often. I was the only person who touched her, sometimes for weeks on end.
 I was stunned. I had never even considered this possibility. But then I really looked at her. I saw a forty-year-old woman who – while vibrant and busy and with a thriving career – was also single with no pets or children and little time for socializing. Her family lived a thousand miles away and even when she got together with friends, a cursory hug was not enough to satisfy her need for human contact.

 And we need human contact. 
Touching others is an essential part of our health and well-being, and save for those with severe personality disorders, every person on this planet must connect. Without it, we suffer greatly, and studies have shown that a lack of human contact can result in a host of physical and mental issues. But where can we find this connection?
 American culture is somewhat touch-phobic. Sure, if you have a loving partner you may share physical intimacy... but also, maybe not. And for those who are single, where can their weary hearts find such affection? In South America, a big kiss and a hug are waiting for you, no matter who you meet. In China, women and men regularly walk down the street holding hands in friendship. It all serves an incredibly important purpose – to show we are not alone.

Give the Gift of Hands-On Adjustments
Enter yoga adjustments. Adjustments are a form of physical contact that allow student and teacher to create a relationship of touch that is safe and nurturing. Romantic emotions do not enter into this. Rather, this is a safe, trusting connection that provides the support system for a student to practice surrender and move beyond the boundaries of what they thought they could do on their own.
Adjustments do not disempower the student. Through hands-on adjustments we can show students what is possible, and once we’ve shown them, they then have the tools to return to this new place on their own. Ultimately, our adjustments are not meant to hinder the student, or keep them coming back for the same help over and over, but to facilitate independence and the evolution of their practice. By giving students the support and trust they need to be able to move past their current boundaries, we open up new worlds of possibility for them.
This can be as simple as breathing calmly with them during an intense pose, or by physically supporting and guiding them through a moment of fear. However, turning a student inside out and upside down in a Wheel Pose, for example, can only happen when the student has full faith and trust in us as a teacher. We must do our part through diligent study of adjustments to warrant and earn that trust. Only then do we have the opportunity to lead students to places they may otherwise never venture without the support of another human being.
Address YOUR Doubts
These days, adjusting students can seem like scary business. For many reasons – from lack of confidence to fear of injury or lawsuit – teachers sometimes shy away from giving adjustments altogether. While verbal adjustments and even light adjustments have their place in a successful yoga class, any student who has had a transformational adjustment knows how important it is for this technique to be a part of a teacher’s skill set.
Just as a picture can take the place of a thousand words, a confident adjustment can sometimes unlock a pose far more effectively than verbal cues. By reaching outside our own comfort zone as teachers and becoming adept at adjustments, we have the opportunity to deepen our students’ experience of yoga physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Hands-on adjustments provide connection: between the teacher and student, between the students and their poses, and between the student, the teacher and what is possible.

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