Why We Assist

Written by Baely Talley, 502 Power Yoga Teacher

I can picture it clearly. I’m about 75% through the yoga class, we’ve just finished working on abs, and the teacher says the sweetest words I’ll ever hear: “half-pigeon.” The first thing I do at the sound of those words is let out a giant mental sigh of relief at surviving this much of class. The second thing I do is look around to see if the assistant or teacher is near me, and quickly calculate my odds of getting assisted in hip-openers.

If you’ve ever been assisted in a hip-opener, you’ll know one thing to be true about it: it is intense. That intensity is either heavenly or challenging depending on your body/preferences, but either way it can leave you feeling empowered and supported. 

It is easy to assume that assisting is meant to correct “bad” form or be a way of fixing something. When I stepped into my second yoga class ever in January 2015, Becca Washer was assisting, and it’s what I assumed she was there for. Since I had basically no previous yoga experience, it’s what I hoped she was there for. I didn’t know what I was doing or what the poses were, but Becca gave me a greater gift than showing me the “correct” way to do things. Her assists landed what the teacher was calling in my body, helped me to keep bringing my attention back into the class, and gave me a sense of support and encouragement.

Assisting can be a powerful tool. We assist in the studio to leave students feeling empowered, to encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone, to stay present in the class and in the moment, to come into their fullest expression, and sometimes to provide ease/comfort (think of those magical Savasana assists!).

It also serves a way to create connection, accountability, and new possibilities. And assisting doesn’t have to look like physical touch. We also assist by making eye contact, throwing a smile, and handing a prop to or breathing with our students.

As a student, you are always welcome to chat with your assistants/teachers outside of class to ask questions or let us know of any individual needs you may have. As assistants/teachers, we hope through our assisting that you as a student feel seen, supported, and valued.

We can go further together!