Why I don’t Teach Partner Exercises in Yoga

partner exercisesWhen I first began taking yoga partner exercises were all the rage. There were many ways for people to work together to go deeper into the practice.

To be honest I loved them. It was fun to work with other people. I was always confident that I knew what I was doing. And it felt good to help others and I wasn’t too wrapped up when others didn’t help me. It was all part of the practice.

When I became a yoga teacher I also started teaching partner exercises quite often. There were a number of them that I loved particularly and we did them fairly regularly. Working with a partner can be incredibly beneficial as a learning tool and for the fun of being supported.

But then one night at a dinner party a friend who was not a teacher mentioned that she hated doing partner exercises in class.

When I asked her why I had enough reason never to teach partner exercises again.

Her two points were:

  • She was not a teacher and therefore did not feel comfortable trying to put people into poses or support them in them. She felt that she had no idea what she was supposed to do most of the time.
  • She didn’t always feel safe with her partner. If it was a stranger and a difficult assist she didn’t always feel comfortable that her partner knew what they were doing.

In the years since I have taught a very limited number of partner exercises. I have a couple that are truly unobtrusive and even those I rarely break out. It is my job above all else to make sure that everyone has a comfortable and safe experience if they come to my class.

I have learned so much on this yoga teaching journey. One of the main lessons is learning to repsect the wants and needs of others over those of my own.

To teach is to serve and that means serving everyone in the room so that they feel better after they leave than they did upon entering.

That isn’t always something the teacher can control but it’s worth trying.

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