Alright blog post is up. Thank you for everyone’s insight.
Philosophically I am in agreement with all your responders. Practically speaking as I work mostly with groups, and in the context of a defined mind body modality some of my techniques are different.
I almost always remind my students that ‘coming to the mat’ is not just an actual stepping onto the yoga mat, but a metaphor for being present. We typically begin by shutting the eyes and pulling the attention inward, attempting to braid together the breath and the movement and the thought. That being present has not always been a comfortable place for everyone, especially where there are scars, but I find if it is the first directive of the class that here on the mat we are safe and we matter, it allows exploration that becomes deeper. The stretching of the muscles is only the surface of what we attempt.
I repeat quite often that we ‘find the self that observes without judgement’. I also remind them that ‘we measure not in inches, but in intensity’. What I find is that if I as the teacher set the expectation in place that everyone matters, we all work together and support each other, and that the process of being in class is much more important than any defined end point, each person in the class tends to move into that place.
Within this context we quite often do talk about places that are tight, or weak, but I model that talk not with anger or self negativity, but again as the self observing without judgement. e.g. “Most people have areas that are more tight than others:…. this posture has always been a little tighter for me, so I use the prop here and that is really helpful to open in a supportive way”, or or “Like a lot of people in their 50s and above, I have some arthritis in my neck, and I find this movement very helpful to keep good range of motion around these joints”.
Occasionally someone says something about their body in a ‘putting down’ sort of way, but it is not common, because the groups tend to be so kind. When it happens I respond with practical ideas and gentle praise for taking the time to practice what we call Ahimsa toward themselves.
Some time ago I did a blog called “yoga and mirrors”, which is kind of on this subject, if you are interested in looking at it. It is on my idea blog site.
I am glad you are writing on this. as the mechanic said in Kudzu “Life is like a tire iron. Its real hard so it feels mighty good when you stop beating yourself upside the head with it.”
Come to think of it I need to put that on my yoga page ….
Hello Jamie Robertson,
I always think about a dog:
A reason a dog has so many friends, he wags his tail instead of his tongue.
A dog enjoys living in the moment, never dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Tell a dog no and it looks away from the temptation.
I say happy instead of proud.
We hold the key to our own chains.
I always try to smile, no matter what, even through tears if need be.
I do not use negative words to correct a form; rather, I tell the client to try it this way and ask how does that feel, now?
We look at the favorable and look away from the unfavorable; at the same time, taking care of both. This is how we learn, right?
What are five specific things you are grateful for today.
The clients and I use all our senses to enjoy every moment together which motivates all of us: the smell of the fresh air, the refreshing feel of a soft breeze, the musical sounds of the birds, the uplifting laughter of children, the majesty of the deer, the relaxation of our favorite stretches, camaraderie, good karma, warm sunshine, etc.
Who has room in their head for detrimental thoughts, now?
The rest falls into place.
NAPS 2 B Fit
Much like Karin explained, it is important to recognize the importance of positive self-talk, as well as practice it on one’s self. Moreover, there are various ways to encourage that within one’s clients; you may find each way is very specific to each client.
One thing I do with some clients, is make sure to emphasize what they did correctly before I begin to critique them on what I would like to have them improve on. Often times, I found this to be very relevant to senior and youth populations. There are great articles and materials out there on the psychology of training various populations.
Sometimes, rephrasing and starting with praise isn’t enough. For the clients who get caught up, and often distracted, with self-criticism over movement or nutrition I will ask them about the root of their negative mentality. If a client shakes their head during a movement, I’ll stop them and ask them why. That may lead to something like “well, it didn’t feel right” or “I forgot to use my glutes.” Then I’ll make sure to praise them for having gained the body awareness to recognize that they “forgot to use [their] glutes”. I’ll have them start the set again and focus on what they already know needs to be done, or we will go through the steps of how to do the movement correctly and what about the movement makes it “feel right.” In summary, I try to get the client to realize that the ability to correct themselves is within them, and that THAT ability is inherently a positive thing!
Moreover, I agree with Karin that it is important to clarify to the client that the complexity of a movement is truly a compliment to the client and in their favor. In other words, if making the movement more challenging is what’s next, it’s because they’ve aced all else and they are essentially ready for progression! And we, as trainers, wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t program to progress the client.
Great idea on the blog!
this is an interesting subject to me because I am constantly working with my clients on positive self-talk.
The first thing I usually do it make my clients aware of their negative wording. Often, it is so ingrained that they do not even notice it any more. When I hear it, I immediately re-frame the statement. A statement like “I’ll never get this right” will be converted into “I know this is difficult for you because it is a new exercise. I chose it because I have seen you mastering similar challenges, and I can see that you already have some of the moves correctly”.
One of my clients (and now a very dear friend) recently experienced a very difficult health challenge with surgeries and hospitalizations. Enough reason to feel down and to believe that nothing will ever get better. One of my mantras became a statement like “I see how discouraging your situation is, and I know that is very easy to give smart advice about all that ‘positive-thinking stuff’ than to apply. But given your situation, dwelling on things that could have been are not helpful. Since you cannot change your situation at this moment, the only thing you can change is the way you view it. If you can muster this positive attitude, other people around you will respond in kind and will be more likely to get out of their way to help you.” I am still saying this in one form or other but what made it convincing was that my words came true. Nurses and other professionals were indeed drawn to her because of her positive attitude despite adversity.
I also try to lead by example. It is always easy dishing out advice and then doing something different when the shoe is on the other foot. I recently sprained my wrist, and when I taught a MELT class, I proclaimed that this would be an opportunity to demonstrate modifications because of an injury.
Make sure you send a link to your blog 🙂