Responding to Tricky Yoga Student Situations
Responding to tricky student situations as a yoga teacher can be challenging. We can often feel unprepared or lack resources to deal with conflicts in class or challenges in student management. It’s useful to consider your guidelines, boundaries, and how you will respond with compassion and clarity when conflicts or tricky situations arise.
Student and Class Management Strategies for Yoga Teachers
We talked in our YTT Group Coaching session this week about how to respond to tricky student situations as yoga teachers.
I’ve compiled a few thoughts to share with you as to how we can manage different personalities and awkward or difficult encounters with students or other members of our yoga community.
Many of these situations don’t come up often, and perhaps that is why they can be so disquieting. Many of us don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with conflict in a yoga space, and we haven’t prepared or rehearsed how to respond to challenges like giggling or talking, phones in class, complaints, consistent lateness, unsafe practice, hygiene issues, and unwelcome or inappropriate behaviour.
From texting while yoga-ing to giggling at the back of the class, to unwelcome behaviour, there are situations that can arise in our yoga classes that we are often unprepared for. I’ve recently led a discussion on managing tricky yoga student situations and in the following slides I share a few quick tips to prepare for and respond mindfully to those challenges that may arise in your classes, private sessions, or online engagement with students.
As yoga teachers our role is to provide a safe space for practice for all yogis, and that includes you as the teacher. All issues should be addressed with compassion, kindness, and clarity. Aim to balance the needs of the whole class with the needs of each individual (and remember you are an individual).
Maintaining confidentiality and respect for your students by not gossiping or complaining about them personally is important. That doesn’t mean you can’t seek guidance or even blow off steam if you are frustrated. But, even if you are talking to a peer or mentor or coach, your student should remain anonymous.
Scope of Practice
Try not to assume and especially not to diagnose what’s happening with a student. Someone’s behaviour might be related to a physical, mental, or social issue they are facing, but it’s outside our scope of practice to try to identify, advise, or ‘heal’ medical or mental health issues.
Yamas and Niyamas
Rely on your Yamas and Niyamas – non-harming, truthfulness etc to provide you with a foundation to respond to challenges.
Patience and Detachment
Practice patience and detachment when dealing with feedback, conflicts, or challenges. Try not to take things personally. Remember, it’s often not about you.
Establish behaviour guidelines and set limits. Let students know what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you. Your professionalism can be a guide to students’ behaviour. Gently educate, instruct, and redirect behaviour that is not suitable for your class.
See the Individual
Understand your students as individuals – be compassionate towards those who are learning about how to behave in a yoga environment, learning to self-regulate their thoughts, behaviour, or responses to the practices of yoga.
Engage, Postpone, or Withdraw
Engage with students in times of challenge/disruption as best you can while maintaining the class. Some challenges must be addressed after class. Know when to draw a line. If a student’s behaviour is impacting your ability to teach safely, or your students ability to practice safely, they might have to be resigned from your class.