to your movement/wellness professional (yoga teacher, personal trainer, coach, etc.)
I wrote this post the other day after a few sessions with clients who have a deep-seated apology habit– even when there’s nothing to apologize for. I always express that there’s no need to apologize, and that my job is to help this process feel as supportive and useful as it can– but I also understand that many of us have been made to feel that it’s not okay to ask for “special” treatment, or that there’s something wrong with us if we need to have something adjusted. So many people I know have suffered through a class or session rather than feel as though they’re a burden, or not wanting to be the person who says, “that incense is making me sick, can you put it out?”
Each of us has a body, mind and system that is completely unique, and which responds best when it feels comfortable, safe and supported. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of things that often come up for folks I work with of things not to apologize for:
1. YOUR BODY:
- Your size, your shape, your mobility, your strength, your hearing, your vision, your abilities, your injuries, the noises your body makes, and anything else you can possibly think of that has to do with you, as you are.
- This also includes anything you use to help you to use your body: wheelchair, hearing aids, prosthetics, etc.
- Any involuntary sounds or movements of your body.
- Needing to use the restroom; needing to pause (see #3);
- And any props or assistance you require in your practice.
2. BEING SENSITIVE: Many of my clients are folks who live with ongoing pain or conditions that make them highly sensitive. Their systems respond more loudly to things that may not register with other folks. Here are some ways this might show up in their bodies:
- being sensitive to hard surfaces under your joints– often folks may need to add some padding or a cushion to support themselves.
- being sensitive to textures, or allergic to certain substances: the type of mat we use, the softness of a blanket– these can make a big difference and even trigger dangerous reactions.
- being sensitive to scents like incense, essential oils or anything else in the air.
- being sensitive to light, sound, temperature.
- being emotionally sensitive: working with the body means that emotions are going to arise. It’s okay to feel and react to those moments.
3. NEEDING TO TAKE A BREAK/RESTING:
- Sometimes your body might need an extra minute to rest before it can work again.
- Sometimes your mind might need a minute to adjust mentally before you can move on to the next thing.
- Sometimes you may not have enough energy or ability to do what you’re being asked you to do.
- Our culture praises hard work and demonizes rest– but we are at our most effective and productive when we allow ourselves adequate time to rest before we work.
4. YOUR PARTICULAR LEARNING STYLE: We all have different brains and learning styles. This might look like:
- Not understanding instructions; needing clarification.
- Being slow at learning.
- Not “getting it right.”
- Needing to learn in a way other than the way it was taught (visually, kinesthetically, from diff. angles, etc).
- Needing to practice alone or at home.
- Needing to practice it without being watched.
- Needing the coach to do it with them.
5. YOUR EMOTIONAL/MENTAL NEEDS:
- Having “a bad day,” feeling low on energy, being depressed, feeling anxious, needing some support or validation.
- Having challenging life circumstances.
- Feeling affected by current events.
- Your movement professional isn’t your mental health provider, but it should always be okay to show up as your whole self.
I hope this list is a starting place to start to normalize the diversity of the human experience, and to recognize the ways in which a fitness/wellness environment can feel more welcoming and accessible for all. We can only grow, learn and thrive in an environment that allows us to be unapologetically ourselves. If your yoga teacher, personal trainer, movement coach, etc. makes you feel like you NEED to apologize for any of these things; or f they have not created an atmosphere in which you are able, comfortably, to show up as your whole self; if you do not feel seen, heard, validated, or appreciated as you are, they are not a good fit for you.