A deep emotional edge

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TamaraHoward
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2021 5:07 pm

A deep emotional edge

Post by TamaraHoward »

Hi all,

I'm very interested in getting some thoughts from people on a bit of a tricky topic.
By way of context, I'm providing classes exclusively online as am based in Ireland and we have been very much locked down for a year. This means I am limited in how much post-class support I can give but also means that my students have the safety and privacy of being able to delve into a deep practice in their own homes. I regularly hear feedback about emotional releases or tears being shed in my classes, and I am thrilled that my students can explore their emotions in their own space and time at home.

However, I have one student who is going through deep therapy for physical and emotional trauma. She uses her yin class as a way of tapping into emotions she has simply not dealt with ever before in her life. She has literally said to me that for the first time she knows what it's like to actually feel. This is phenomenal and beautiful, but she said that sometimes she will just sob for hours after class as a result of leaning into emotions. I have noticed her coming out of poses and leaving her mat. When I asked after class if she was ok, she said she had to walk away for a minute to cry.

I am now torn. She feels her yin is deeply beneficial but exhausting and painful. I feel she is leaning too far past her emotional edge, but I really don't know how I can work with her on that. I don't want to single her out or speak to her directly, but are there any cues I can give to maybe pull her back?

Any thoughts would be hugely appreciated. I want to be able to provide a trauma-informed practice to support students...but I don't want to push them over the edge!

Thanks all
Tam
Bernie
Posts: 1217
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Re: A deep emotional edge

Post by Bernie »

Hi Tam

It is an interesting topic. Here are some of my thoughts.

Just as we are not physical therapists or doctors and cannot (or even if you are a doctor….then should not) give medical advice on any physical ailments, disease or conditions during a yoga class, we are also not psychotherapists. We must refrain from diagnosing or treating our students’ emotion or mental conditions.

This does not mean that we should not be compassionate in the face of distress, but the best course of action is to 1) acknowledge the student’s distress and 2) suggest she seek appropriate counselling or help. If she is already receiving assistance from a professional, then we can ask what they recommend in these situations and try to help meet those goals.

Specifically you said that “she is leaning too far past her emotional edge, but I really don't know how I can work with her on that. I don't want to single her out or speak to her directly, but are there any cues I can give to maybe pull her back?” My thought is that you do not know if that is what is really happening, and your idea of trying to “pull her back” may be unwarranted. Again, since she is going through therapy, ask her to discuss this with her therapist and have her therapist tell you (through her of course) what your role can be to assist. If the therapist feels these states are not helpful, then you may decide with the student to have her come out of the poses earlier than the rest of the class, or not go to her full physical edge. But, maybe the therapist will suggest that these purges of emotion are healthy for her. I don’t know; you don’t know. It is best to ask the pros.

Your heart is in the right place and that’s good. But, we have to resist playing doctor with our students.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
Bernie
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