At its core, yoga is a healing practice that works on a variety of levels. It affects the physical body, the mind, and it also has a spiritual and emotional effect on people. The emotional aspect of yoga can often come out unexpectedly in a class, especially in certain poses that encourage emotional release, like camel pose and child’s pose. As a yoga teacher, it is important to recognize these emotions in students and help them through it. Sometimes, this involves recommending outside emotional counseling for more serious personal issues.
Recognizing Emotional Breakthroughs
Emotional breakthroughs can be sudden and intense in yoga class. Certain poses can release a flood of emotions for students, from elation to deep sadness. These emotions may come out in the form of laughter or crying. As a yoga instructor, you should be prepared for these events to occur in your class, whether you teach a relaxing meditative session or a fast-paced power yoga class. Recognize the common poses that can trigger these breakthroughs – heart-openers, intense backbends, and restorative positions are all common emotional triggers. If you see a student struggling with their emotions during your class, approach them gently. Make sure they know that these types of emotional breakthroughs are common in yoga practice, and that’s it is perfectly acceptable to express what they are feeling through tears or laughter. Do you best to maintain a compassionate and understanding demeanor – many students will be embarrassed or ashamed at being unable to control their feelings in a public setting.
As a yoga teacher, it is perfectly acceptable to discuss emotions and their relation to the practice either in your class or outside of the studio. To help your students connect with their inner selves, you can introduce poses that encourage emotional breakthroughs and teach students how to recognize and celebrate the feelings that come up. Because many people are used to hiding their emotions in public, yoga class is a good place to experiment with allowing feelings to show, without shame or embarrassment. You should encourage students to consider their emotions in every class, whether they are there for fitness, rehabilitation, or for spiritual growth. Anyone can benefit from having an open-minded teacher who doesn’t let the emotional aspect of yoga fall by the wayside.
Recognizing Your Limits
Yoga teachers are well versed in many areas of emotions, but sometimes people will need more help then you are equipped to give. It is good to be prepared with resources for mental health professionals, support groups, and hotlines. If someone is really struggling with deep seated issues coming up from their past, you may want to recommend deeper therapeutic options that can help them work through it. While yoga should be continued as a great way to confront emotions and reduce stress, it may not always be enough. As an instructor, it is important to recognize when you are out of your depth and when you should consider recommending another professional. While you can still be there for your student and support them through your classes, you should not be the only one they can turn to. There is nothing wrong with having a strong network of support for difficult emotional breakthroughs.
There is a lot that yoga teachers can do for students experiencing emotional breakthroughs. As an instructor, you can offer support and healing through the practice of yoga. However, it is important to remember that you are not a licensed counselor or therapist. In some cases, your student may need more to get through a difficult time. Be prepared for these issues to arise through the healing practice of yoga and support your students the best you can.
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