The other day I had a conversation with someone who'd attended a public yoga class once or twice—and never returned.
"The teacher came up behind me and just wrenched me into position. It was rather jarring," he said.
Sometimes, when well meaning yoga instructors touch students, we mistakenly believe we're showering those students with welcome attention. (I've been that yoga teacher.) But imagine how disconcerting it can be if someone puts their hands on your when you don't expect—or perhaps want—to be touched. For example, I'd be pretty upset if some random person on the street touched my thigh! But yoga teachers do that all the time.
Aggressive physical adjustments aren't our cup of tea at StamYo to begin with, but touch doesn't have to be aggressive to be unwelcome. (And yes—some people love being touched during yoga classes. Don't worry, we've got you covered.)
Yoga studios should be safe havens; physically, to be sure—but also emotionally. When you enter our treetop yoga studio in Stamford Downtown, you'll notice a bowl of chips at the reception desk. Permission chips, not potato chips. (Mmmmm...potato chips. It's almost time to wrap this blog post up and have breakfast.)
If you enjoy receiving hands-on assists in class, help yourself to a chip and place it near the front corner of your mat where the instructor can see it. That signifies to the instructor that you consent to be touched. (Not all teachers offer hands-on assists, so the chip isn't a guarantee that you'll receive a hands-on assist. However, the absence of a chip guarantees that the instructor will not touch you.)
Some days you might enjoy being adjusted some days and take a chip. Other days, you might opt out. Or maybe you appreciate a guiding touch during the active portion of class but prefer not to be disturbed during final relaxation. On the other hand, you might love a little shoulder massage at the end of class if the instructor happens to offer one, but relish being left in peace during the active portion of the class.
Preferences are personal and that's perfectly okay. In fact, it's just perfect! You can display your chip, then tuck it out of sight, as often as you like. Maybe you just had a fight with your sweetie, or have an injury, or have your period. Maybe you have a traumatic experience in your history. You don't owe us any explanations and we don't take it personally.
We see yoga as a practice that helps you live more comfortably in your body. So we love it when you feel comfortable enough to signify a preference and lay claim to your own practice.