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Separating Clients From Students

“…Students are not clients. When you are a client, you get what you want. A student needs to arrive to class ready to receive what the teacher is ready to give them, as long as the teacher has the right qualifications.” -Master teacher Maty Ezraty in Andrea Ferretti’s Yoga Journal Q&A.”

I am so glad someone said this because I have felt it for so long. There are 3 titles for ‘my people’ in my career life:

I began in the fitness world, where ‘your people’ are clients and participants (1). When I began teaching yoga, those words didn’t fit. Yoga students are students (2). When I became an RMT, the people I treat are patients (3), not clients. They come to me to decide on a medical treatment plan. My personal training clients are still clients. They pay me to give them what they want.

But I feel this differentiation is the loudest in yoga. I go to a yoga class trusting that that teacher will give me the lesson I need that day. (That doesn’t mean I will not be afraid to question their lesson 🙂 But I trust that they, as the teacher, have a lesson to teach.

Many, many times, I have taught a private student or a yoga class knowing that the student(s) would not expect/want what they were about to receive.

I will have a new private yoga student who “pictures herself flowing strongly from pose to pose,” but we do a restorative practice because I know that is what she needs for hormonal balance and her great stress.

I will have a yoga student who comes expecting to do chair pose, but ends up doing wall squat almost until fatigue because he needs to know that he can.

I would say, more often than not, I teach a public class at a slower pace than expected because the students need to learn shoulder biomechanics more than they need to do 108 chaturangas.

I am not saying that I am doing ‘yoga-teaching’ right, but I have gotten better at listening to my gut. Sometimes I am still nervous that I won’t give my students what they want. But I am playing the long-game in a “Trust me, I have done this before” kind of way.

I suppose this is a request to yoga students to seek out teachers who they trust to have the qualifications to teach them what they need (and to maybe get their “workouts” from a non-yoga source), and for yoga teachers to be true to their hearts and to teach what they know their students need at a level that is appropriate for the student and the teacher.

I would love to hear what you think. ? xo


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