When And How To Bend The Rules
As long as you are responsible first
Then you can bend the rules
To suit your needs.
I have been known to take risks with my students i.e. for some students a chin stand is more of a face plant because their shoulders and upper back may be too tight to do the pose. Pictured is not a particularly healthy position for the neck to be in, but it was still fun to give chin stand a careful try!
When I first moved to Asia I had students who were in their 80s doing so many of the things that my teachers said were “dangerous” and these students were perfectly fine! That was when I decided, after 10+ years of studying books and the things my teachers taught, to instead study my students. No one has the textbook body. And some eccentricities can make people uniquely hyper capable.
I try to teach my students to be in tune with their desires and their bodies. If you want to learn a pose -great! If you feel pain- not great! I tell my students the cautions but I don’t want to hold anyone back. I just want my yogis to be prepared for the possible consequences. “Pain is your body asking for attention, listen to it… What kind of pain do you feel? … How to you think we should deal with that feeling?”
I want my students to decide for themselves what their boundaries are then together we figure out how we want to move forward with those boundaries in mind.
In this case we tried the chin stand- fun- but it pinches the neck a bit too much. So we do our shoulder and upper back stretches and reattempt in a few more weeks or months.
I don’t want to teach fear.
So often I hear teachers alluding to their students’ egos and holding them back because “you aren’t ready for that pose yet.” First it’s my job to keep you safe. Then I say if you want to learn something, it’s my job to figure it out for you as best as I can.
Teaching a student to trust themselves and their passions is one of the most important things a teacher can do. Trusting our instincts takes practice because sometimes signals get crossed or lost. So we practice to get better at it.