DevaTree Blog

I Was Afraid to Touch my Yoga Students

Posted By Brenda Dowell on Jun 20, 2018

Many yoga teachers tell me they’re afraid to touch their students and give them hands-on assists.

Over the years, I’ve heard:

If I get off my mat while I’m teaching, I’ll forget where I am in my sequence.

It’s easier for me to give detailed verbal cues when I’m feeling them in my own body, practising with my students. 

Men have shared ‘I’m hesitant to put my hands on women’, and vice versa—‘I’m afraid they’ll misunderstand my intention.’

I only know a few assists.

Every body is so different. What if I don’t know how to support someone?

I forget how to use the assists I learned in my yoga training because I haven’t been practicing them.

How do I get to everyone in the room? What if I leave someone out?

What if they don’t want to be touched?

What if they think I’m correcting them, and they get offended?

What if I hurt someone?

If you’ve felt this way, you’re not alone.

Here are 10 ways to get past the fear of touching your students.

  1. Start with assisting only one pose. Get comfortable with it and build your skill and confidence.
  2. Most poses have numerous assists. Start with learning one.
  3. Practice on friends, family, or other teachers.
  4. Set up practice dates with fellow yoga teachers to practice and observe (groups of three are ideal). 
  5. Ask a fellow yoga teacher (preferably someone who knows your teaching style) if you can assist their yoga class to gain experience. 
  6. Practice speaking your verbal cues out loud to yourself, while you’re practicing, so it becomes more comfortable and you have it in your body. Soon you’ll be able to get off your mat without forgetting cues.
  7. You don’t have to assist every person, or every pose.
  8. Never rush to get to every student. It will disrupt the vibe you’re trying to create.
  9. An assist is an exchange, so don’t be afraid to communicate with your students. Ask them, “Does this work for you?” “How’s the pressure?” or “Do you want more or less pressure?”
  10. Be patient and go easy on yourself as you develop your skills and confidence. You will improve with time. In the meantime, honour the gifts and skills that come naturally. Your students are lucky to have you!

Were any of these fears familiar to you? Or, if you’ve overcome a fear of assisting, how did you do it?

I’d love to hear from you, in the comments below.

With love,


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2 Comment(s)

Lindy King on June 20, 2018
At the studio I attend the instructor has you select a meditation card. If you wish to receive essential oils or assistive touch you put the card face up other wise you leave it face down indicating not now. You may change. your mind thus the card at any time throughout the class. At other classes when your eyes are closed they may say place your hand on your belly if you do not wish assistance. In each case the individual is giving consent.
Brenda Dowell on June 20, 2018
Thank you Lindy - great ideas for giving full permission to the students to say yes or no to being touched. Thank you for sharing.

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