Recently, I was leading a yoga teacher training when an odd question arose…
It was a warm summer day and the room was encircled by 20-something women, all working toward certification as yoga teachers. I was describing how to adjust a certain posture, then demonstrating the types of adjustments on a volunteer.
One particular move required a fair amount of body-to-body contact. Which is what prompted the question…
“Does you wife have any idea what you REALLY do for a living?!”
We all started laughing and I went on, showing more demonstrations. But, the question really got me thinking. What makes the exact same action okay on the one hand or offensive on the other?
Is it really all about context?
During any given yoga class, I’ll walk through the room adjusting people for a solid 90-minutes. Some of those adjustments are gentle and less physical. But, others are deeper and require different parts of my body to be in direct contact with my students’ bodies. It could be my hands, my chest, my arms or some combination of all of the above.
Now, I am always sure to be very respectful and send clear signals that my intention is purely therapeutic, nothing more, nothing less. I often go a step further and share stories about my family in class. I want people to know, if I adjust them…
It’s not sexual, it’s simply about furthering the purpose of a posture.
And, my long-term students know this about me and about the practice. But, the interesting thing is, I have new students in class every week, people I’ve never met, and I adjust them, too.
I regularly place my hands on them in ways that they’d likely find offensive, were someone else with no prior relationship to do the very same thing either out on the street or in an office setting. But, in this context and setting it’s not only okay, but welcomed.
So, I am curious:
- Is it really all about context or is there something else I am missing?
- Have you seen a similar phenomenon in other settings, areas?
- And, how does this all play out in the workplace, personal life and beyond?
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