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Last night while I was teaching, I saw a great act of courage I wanted to share with you. A new student was feeling dizzy, so (as we encourage new students to do) she sat down to take a break. Soon thereafter, I checked in with her and noticed immediately that (after just 15 minutes of class) she was on the verge of passing out. (Passing out is a normal function of the body under certain conditions and usually occurs in #yoga #class due to oxygen deprivation, low blood sugar or some combination therein.) At this point many new students would get up to leave. It is VITAL that an experienced teacher intercedes because when a student feeling these symptoms and leaves the hot room, the blast of cold air upon exiting the room usually causes the student to pass out. (As a side note, if a student is about to throw up, the symptoms look very different and it is important for the student to leave, throw up and then to come back and finish the class. Upon purging, the student will almost always feel better and be able to complete the class and leave at the end feeling good. What is safest for a student on the verge of passing out is to sit down or lay down and to breathe calmly in and out through the nose.  Once the immediate symptoms subside, usually some sips of coconut water or a few packets of electrolytes in water suffice to have the student back on his/her feet and able to get the benefits of the practice.

I’ve seen this many times, here’s how last night was different.  

Most students confronted to stay in the room and lay down and do nothing would respond as follows: A student would either resist the instructor and leave anyway leading to the student passing out or being on the verge of passing out and requiring assistance in the lobby. OR most students would fight the instruction to lay (or sit) and relax. Instead pushing beyond the boundaries he/she is so clearly encountering.

Last night this student did neither. Instead, she laid in savanna for almost the entire standing series. In 5 years, I haven’t seen seen a student lay (not just sit) through that much class. And it is a HUGE accomplishment. 

I checked in with the student many times in a friendly and non confrontational way. I encouraged her to continue to lay there and breathe and FEEL GOOD about herself. (Normally a new student would start to judge him/herself for not being able to perform the poses). After almost an hour (and some coconut water) the student was finally feeling better and she finished the class smiling, feeling good and — hopefully — with a sense of accomplishment. Clearly the student had the will to hang in there. Other students would not have. Either way, above all it’s the safety of the student that is most important.

As a yoga teacher with a scant 9-week certification, it’s clear that my training is far less rigorous that the training for most other professions. However, my training is on the job training. Over the years, I have seen students (and teachers) pass out or come very close several times. Last night, I recognized all of the symptoms rapidly and I responded at the right moment with the right approach to guide the student through a difficult time. For this — and all the hundreds of classes I have taught to get to this point — I feel genuine pride in my work. When I was new teacher I did not even have the sense of direction to know why I was teaching in the first place. Now I know the reason I teach is to help people. Have you ever experienced something similar while teaching?  What helped you to take the right actions in the right time?