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First off, I have to say that I love assisting! I was unsure at first if I would get to this point since I was really nervous about doing it when I first began, however now I can see that my assists are really working for the people in my classes. I’ve received feedback that my assists bring the yoga practice to a “different level” by challenging each student to turn off their thoughts, and discover their inner strength to go beyond where they thought they could go. It is so satisfying to see the shifts taking place in their bodies! I feel a connection with them when that happens… almost as if the same shifts are taking place inside of me.

I feel that safety is the most important thing, so I go there first – speaking to the alignment from the ground up, and then applying physical assists (also from the ground up) to the students who may not in their optimal alignment. Just as important to this is my ability to be conscious of what is going on in my class. I find that it is a little more difficult to do this in a larger class, as it may be easy to miss something that someone is doing across the room. However, I have begun the practice of connecting in with each student as they come into the class – I ask where they are in their practice, if they’ve ever done yoga, how they’re feeling, etc. I’ve found this has helped me to bring my attention where it may be needed the most.

I am a very active assistor when I teach or assist in other people’s classes. I generally like being active anyway, rather than just standing around, and I also like to find ways to connect in with others in their practice. I use assisting to do just that. The most powerful feedback on my assists that I’ve received so far has been from Lindsay – she once told me to “do everything with purpose”. Now that I have been teaching and assisting, I can say that my assists have a purpose about them. I no longer feel like I’m experimenting anymore with what I’m doing… I don’t feel the hesitation of thought or questioning as I may have felt when I first began. Now I observe what needs to be done and then just DO it. And I do it with purpose.

How I assist others is a reflection of what is going on inside of me. I think that being grounded is probably the most important attribute to have before going into an assist. It goes back to safety. If I’m off-balance, I’m going to transfer that energy to those I’m assisting and he/she will fall out of the posture. Feeling grounded is sometimes a challenge for me. I work through it by setting my intentions, and doing meditation and breath work prior to class. I have also recently begun an ayurvedic practice in order to balance out my Pitta with a little (or a lot!) more Kapha. It has been a slow process; however I believe that it has been working out great so far!

This brings me to, what is for me, the most challenging assists: balancing posture assists. I truly believe that this is a reflection of me – perhaps I have some imbalances in my own life from which I am in the process of growing. I know that I tend to take on a lot of stuff – and I get very busy in the process. Finding ways to balance my own life — and all of the responsibilities that goes along with it – is a point of focus in my life right now. Before I go into my class, I drop all of that. I get present, and I practice feeling my feet planted on the ground, squeezing my toes into the mat and then releasing. I feel the rebound of the earth respond to my stance from the bottoms of my feet to the top of my head. Only then, when I get to the point where I feel connected with and grounded into the earth, I am able to assist others …especially the balancing postures.

This process of assisting yoga classes has been, and still is, a process of discovery. Assisting others is as much a journey of connecting in with others as it is an inner journey of self-discovery. I feel that I’m on a great path by continuing to assist yoga students the best way I know how! And I can tell that they are landing with them – I not only see it and feel it when I assist them, but I hear about it too. I can’t remember a class in recent months where I haven’t gotten positive feedback on my assists. I think that this is a good thing. I am happy to continue using the assists that I learned in the 200-hour teacher training to support others in their practice! Thanks go out to Sid and Lindsay from Sid Yoga Center for teaching me this wonderful and powerful gift!

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