I had infatuated class from this instructor for over a year. I’d been button up hundreds of times. A firm lifting press of my hips in Downward Dog, a temperate shifting of my back in Twisting Warrior, and a calming squeeze of my neck in Savasana. I rated all of this attention because it felt good and helped me get deeper into role ofs, and the adjustments were always very professional.
But one day, I got an adjustment that has braced with me for over 16 years. I was in Triangle pose, and I sensed the doctor walking behind me. I smiled and slightly closed my eyes as I felt insist upon on my lower back and a soft hand on my hip. But then I felt another yield . . . on my left boob. I slowly looked up, and said, “Um, that’s not my as one.” Kathy and I laughed so hard we both fell backward onto someone else’s yoga mat, and damn near domino-effected a few people in the process.
This little encounter was no big deal for a few talk over withs. Kath and I were friends and I knew this innocent groping was a round out accident. But more importantly, she was a woman. I kept thinking, what if this was a man? What if this mean accident felt slightly deliberate and very uncomfortable? What if I caress like this was inappropriate or even sexual? What if I thought it was my liability, like I had sent the wrong message in some way?
I think about this unwitting boob adjustment whenever I take or teach a class, and you should, too. When you go to a yoga savoir vivre, you should expect to feel safe and respected. Yoga instructors should persevere a leavings friendly and helpful, but absolutely professional in their teacher-student relationships. They include no right to make you feel uncomfortable in any way, especially when they move you. And as a student, it is your responsibility to speak up if a touch, or a comment, or a glare doesn’t ambience right to you, whether it’s painful, inappropriate, or makes you feel uneasy.
It’s unquestionably OK to talk to an instructor during class. If they’re pressing on your alerts in Child’s Pose and it hurts, or their fingertips are a little too close to your Aunt Sally, or you just want some space — say so right then and there! If it feels outlandish to speak up, tell them after class, or you might prefer discourse to the studio’s owner if the issue seems more serious.
The point here is that yoga is imagined to feel good, physically and emotionally. You get to decide what that intimates. Maybe you’re OK with your feet being rubbed with lavender oil, and possibly you feel irked out when an instructor places one fingertip on your pitch in. If an instructor is doing or saying something that makes your judgement less than blissful, don’t stand for it!
/ Ericka McConnell