As a yoga teacher, I let loose lots of words in class. Nowhere else do I speak nonstop for more than an hour. While my instructions seem straightforward, however, what I say can cause inadvertent effects.
A student I’ll call Rose confided that she disliked the way I sometimes verbally correct students by name from afar. In my teaching, I try to give students as much individual attention as possible. I do this mostly up close. But if, while demonstrating a pose or navigating the room, I notice a student’s splayed feet or collapsed chest, I might say, “John, toes in,” or “Sue, lift your sternum.” It’s the quickest method to remind a student to pay attention—especially if we’re about to exit the pose and I can’t reach my target in time.
Rose noted that she welcomed close-up adjustments but felt singled out, on the hot seat, if corrected out loud. This surprised me because such public corrections have never bothered me. In Iyengar yoga, corrections are inherent in the teaching. Hearing my name jolts me awake—and knowing that my teacher is watching me is both challenging and comforting. But others might react differently—and that’s legitimate, too. Some students respond to prodding while others need a gentler touch, manually and verbally.
Image: Edna Krabappel, The Times Leader