Consent in the Classroom
In a recent article written for the New York Times, journalist Katherine Rosman found herself face-to-face with the issue of consent and hands-on assists during Asheville Yoga Festival this past summer. During a four-hour workshop titled “Inversions and Adjustments” with Jonny Kest, she found herself in a unique situation. A woman in the workshop was practicing a pose, widely known as Triangle Pose, when Kest moved one leg around the student’s leg, wrapped his arm around her from behind and placed his palm between her collar bone and breast.
This particular instance has gained a lot of attention in the yoga community and begs the question, “how do you handle hands-on assists in class?” In light of this situation, it is imperative for yoga teachers to always ask for consent before giving any kind of hands-on adjustments. Yoga is meant to be a safe and healing space for people to come together and practice. However, when you are teaching to a group of students with diverse backgrounds unknown to you. Some people who have endured trauma in their lives can be triggered by touch, so it is vital to be mindful in your classes.
Use Consent Cards in Class
One way that you can show respect and understanding to your students is implementing a type of consent card. This is an easy and private way for students to let you know whether or not they are comfortable with hands-on assists during class, and it provides you with awareness of your students’ needs at a glance.
Establish Boundaries at the Beginning of Class
When class starts, share with your students that you intend to use hands-on adjustments, so they are clear on what to expect. If you do not want to use cards, you can also ask students to raise a hand while in child’s pose if they would prefer to not have hands-on assists.
Make Sure Students Know They Can Say No at Any Point
Some students may feel comfortable being adjusted in only certain poses. Some of your students may be more open to assists at the beginning of class rather than later on. You want them to feel comfortable throughout the duration of class. Make sure your students know that they can opt out of hands-on assists at any point during class by giving you some sort of indication whether that is with a verbal cue or with a card.
Be Aware of Resistance from Your Students
In some situations, you will be able to feel physical or energetic resistance to your hands-on assists. If you feel this type of energy, take a moment to reflect on whether or not the adjustment is necessary and act accordingly. Remember, it is always okay not to give an assist if it seems unnecessary or at all uncomfortable.
Mindful Assists 300-Hour Training – March 27-29
If you would like to better understand how to mindfully approach assists in your classes, this is the workshop for you! Instructor Shala Worsley will lead a fun and informative weekend to explore the art of hands-on adjusting. She will provide an introduction to marma points and instruction for giving hands-on adjustments that are marma specific. Click here to register!