One of the foundational elements of doing therapeutic yoga work, is to create and provide a space for people to enter into, to feel welcome, to feel heard and not judged. All the other tools we use to help clients manage their symptoms of anxiety or depression would be worthless, if this safe container is not established first.
For me, this begins before a client arrives. I have a link that I send out prior to our first meeting showing them pictures of the studio space, describing the environment, the work we’ll do together, even pictures of the resident dog! Most importantly, I let them know that they are always in control. They are given full permission to say what works and what doesn’t, and to say what they need in the moment. If they’re not comfortable with any of the elements I provide (movement, mantra, visualization, breath work…) it’s my job to find an alternative that will put them at ease.
In a typical yoga class, the student attends and receives whatever class the teacher has decided to offer that day. In therapeutic yoga, the teacher-client roles are turned upside down. As a provider of this service, I am there first and foremost to listen to what the client needs, and then to choose the appropriate practices to help them manage how they are feeling in that moment, that day, that week.
I received one of the nicest text messages from a new client about a week ago. Her message read “I really enjoyed the yoga, but I especially enjoyed you and the atmosphere you provided”. This client, like all of us, has a story. She’s got lots of things to deal with and the stresses are creating cracks in her foundation. The message she sent indicated to me that she feels safe practicing with me and from there, the transformation can occur. I’ve had clients cry during their sessions. It is not my mandate to get to the bottom of their issues. My role begins and ends with providing that private space where (1) they feel they can cry and not be judged, and (2) I provide practices that will help them find out what lies beneath their tears.
Silence is key. There are thoughts to be heard, breaths to be observed , bodily sensations to be felt, symptoms to be validated. Noise envelops us everywhere we go. In our yoga practice, we are given what I have often called the “gift” of silence.
Do you have a safe space where you can be authentically yourself? Where you can reach beneath the masks and the expectations and the stories you grew up believing? Where you can freely feel your feelings, allow tears to flow, and perhaps, rise above them? A place where you know you won’t be judged for simply being yourself?
If you do, well you’ve got something (extra) to be grateful for ♥