When I did my first yoga training the lead instructor said,”If you find yourself attracted to someone in your class don’t adjust them”. And we all laughed. There are moments of closeness with clients that can look flirty or inappropriate. A firm, assertive touch can stable a pose, make a pose safer or soothe someone. The intention must always be,”I’m here for you.” With that said I was hired to do yoga choreography for a scene on Mike and Molly, to make fun of an instructor who gets a little too close to his clients.
One of the poses we used is happy baby pose, also known as dead bug, where you lie on your back, relax the iliopsoas muscles, open and bend your legs, align your heels over your knees so that your hips open. There’s no comedy in it really, unless someone is standing right over you. Then you may feel quite exposed. So to make it funnier, I asked the actor to adjust her in this pose by pressing the inner thighs apart and leaning in towards her. This sets up the idea that the instructor is basically lying on you and conducting a class as if he’s not. That’s funny. We played with several poses. The lead actress was very flexible and the actor playing the instructor had a cliche “hot teacher” vibe that made the scene work.
In my own classes, I like to adjust clients. I also like when other instructors lift or guide me a little deeper into a pose or even massage a muscle that needs to disengage. I hear so many good things from people that appreciated the attention and tweaks I’ve given during class that I make sure to use my hands in subtle encouraging ways. The closer I get to people the more I learn about their particular strengths and injuries. Again the intent is always,”I’m here for you.” And it’s never been misconstrued.
Before each class I imagine that each person is going through a lot and has entrusted me with a tiny bit of their time. Yoga is entertainment, a break, a melt down, a scene. I gingerly cross that stage with compassion in my hands and heart.