Holding space

Holding space

Holding space starts with you. By Paula Hines

Teaching yoga is not just about what you know. It is actually more about how well you are able to communicate what you know, so the student takes in your words and understands them deeply in his or her own body and mind” – wise words from Judith Hanson Lasater.

These words open Sarah Scharf’s wonderful book, Holding Space, which includes numerous practices we can do, practical guidance and words of wisdom. Much resonated, not least her words on how we teach, authenticity and expanding as a teacher. She wrote about the image of yoga teachers being that of a swan gliding on the water: “The observer sees graceful movement and yet underneath there can be a frantic amount of legwork.”

I am sure that these words will resonate with most, if not all, fellow teachers too.

It took me time to find my voice. I am naturally softly spoken so a common experience was being asked to speak up and working out how to project my voice in large rooms. Those of us who now teach online in real-time will have undoubtedly found there are extra layers with regard to how holding space differs from teaching in-person.

In relation to Judith Hanson Lasater’s words above, I have needed to find different ways to communicate when teaching in two dimensions rather than three.

And I am ever grateful to everyone who has returned to my classes and workshops and been patient with me as I have contended with technology that was alien to me a year ago. It’s certainly been a learning curve I wasn’t expecting, but one I am grateful for.

Continuing to learn is crucial. Studying with others, being mentored as well as self-study and learning from the people who come to my classes and workshops all form parts of this. Though we are called ‘yoga teachers’, I very much see myself as a student sharing with others what I have learned so far.

Also, I feel that holding space for others needs to start with you — taking care of ourselves is essential.

Just a few ways I take care of myself are restorative yoga, yoga nidra, taking time purely for myself each day even if it is just five minutes, taking a walk, big belly laughs and swinging a kettlebell every so often.

Find ways to fill yourself up, so that you can give from a place of fullness rather than depletion.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer. Find out more about her online yoga offerings, including her REST + RENEW eBook to help you get started with your restorative yoga practice at home, via her website: ucanyoga.co.uk

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