On assisting

“Teacher trainees, hands up.”

I raised my hand, scanning the room as I did so. Nearly every square inch of practice space was occupied by a yoga mat, and still more students were streaming through the door. It was easy to predict my teacher’s next words.

“You have a choice this morning: You can stay and assist, or do the Ashtanga class downstairs.”

And that’s how I found myself, for the first time, picking my way through a maze of yoga mats, correcting students feet in Down Dog, their arms in Warrior 2, and lengthening their tailbones in Child’s pose.

It was, simultaneously, heaps of fun and an amazing learning experience. Without my own practice to focus on, I was free to observe just how different an ubiquitous asana like Down Dog can look. I learned what Bridge pose looks like for someone tighter in the back.

Our lecturers and teachers have repeatedly told us that we’ll learn so much more from assisting in class than from our own practice, and it’s absolutely true.

The most amazing, humbling moment came after the class, when I was thanked by a student. Me? No. Thank you for letting me learn, for allowing me to correct and deepen your practice. Really.

I knew I loved yoga. I knew I loved my teacher training. But being in the studio, surveying a room crammed full of students lying peacefully in Savasana, and knowing that I had played a small part in getting them there, it was all I could do not to jump up and down yelling, “Yes! This is my true passion! This is my calling! This! This! Just this!”


And now, for a little humour…