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we fight most passionately to hang onto the things we're almost ready to release. this story is really touching, because this lady wants so badly to be free of these obstacles in her nervous system but is simultaneously clinging to them so ferociously. which describes all of us to one degree on another, in various states of sophistication. I'm sure you did a wonderful job making her feel safe and supported, the rest is on her. you can't remove samskaras, only give students the tools to do it themselves. blessings, Sat Nam.


Anonymous, I really hear how upsetting this experience was. Your student wasn't in a state where she could respond. I think you know it wasn't to do with you or what you offered. When she's better able to move forward, she will.

That said ... I'm taken aback by the reference to "a mother yanking the covers off of a daughter bedridden by depression." In my experience I just can't see this form of "tough love" being effective - or was that Dan's point?

misa Derhy

We can help only when the people is ready to help themselves...and your client obviously was not at all:) You did your best...and you don t have power on the result.


A 52 year old female student called and requested a private session. She requested a discount due to tight finances....I offered her $25 off to help her out. She agreed. She brought a coupon with her and asked for another $10 off....I said I was sorry, but I really couldn't couldn't honor 2 discounts off the same session. ...she said never mind...lets just start. I offered her water and she said "I only drink bottled..I explained that it came from our cooler and was filtered and she said "you can put it there, but I won't drink it" So..I began my interview to get to know more about her, her concerns, medical history and goals. She went into unbelievable what color her hair was and what the most famous movie of the year was when she was 10 and broke her ankle, things like that....She talked so much that I had to redirect her to get to the yoga consult, etc...Mind you the 15 min. interview, lasted 45 min. She seemed very detached from herself and unhappy with life. On the first word ":inhale"..she said "don't tell me to inhale" and started to cry ..stood up and said I need a moment...and then came back and sat down...I asked if she needed to talk & offered her tissues and she said I didn't come to talk.." I came for my private session"....I then explained the importance of the breath in yoga and she said do what you have to I tried again...She immediately was resistant to breathing and became I said thats okay..just breathe normally and follow me (simple chair yoga warmup)...every time I spoke she complained about something..she didn't like to turn her head side to side..she didn't like the music....she didn't like to stretch her toes...she didn't like the chair she was sitting on...Each and every time I accomodated her as best I could...I turned off the music and then she said it was too quiet...I turned on the fan and then she was too cold..I gave her a blanket and then she was too get the idea....needless to say, we didn't get very I decided to try deep relaxation, since that was one of her goals......I made her very comfortable with blankets, props etc..low lighting...I asked if she wanted soothing natural sounds for background and she said..I don't I put it on in hopes of relaxing her a bit.....I started my deep relaxation with visualization and got to "extend your right leg and now squeeze.".then "extend your left leg and now".....ALL of the sudden she Jumped up and Loudly said "Stop talking " I need quiet to relax!....I can't do this! and started packing her things...I said I was so sorry....this is how I offer yogic deep about 1 minute I would have been completely quiet....she said "never mind" and walked out and stood in the parking lot..shaking her head and saying I don't I asked what can I do to help you? she just put her head down...I took a step towards the doorway and she took 2 steps I stepped back in and said please call me if I can help you. She just kept standing there....I went in and left the door wide open...she left. Now...I have taught for over 3 years and been a therapist over 20 years. I have never had an experience like this. She actually scared me with her actions and what seemed like anger. The student was simply what I view as inconsolable from word one. I was as supportive as I know how to be...and have truly never had anything like this ever happen to me in teaching yoga....or trying to in this case. I found her behavior controlling..she seemed to resist everytime I tried to teach the class..which is what she was paying me to do. Anyway, I have now been very upset about this for hours and feel horribly..(negative energy attached to me) and I need to get rid of it. I do assume that it isn't about me....nevertheless, I am questioning myself and just feel like crying. I would welcome any thoughts or comments.


" ... when the student is ready, the teacher shall appear. " !


Yes, very interesting. My mother is a borderline overly enthusiastic yoga practitioner. Several years ago I was suffering from a terrible, sustained clinical depression. She kept talking about how yoga would be helpful, but I could hardly get off the couch. Stiff, overweight, no energy etc. Then the Iyengar center where she goes was offering a 6-week workshop specifically for depression, and she said, "If I sign you up for the class, will you go?" I was ready to make some changes, and yoga has most definitely helped me turn my life around. I never stopped going to classes, and yoga is now a regular part of my life. But I had to do it when I was ready. No amount of prodding would have got me off the couch before then. Now I often recommend yoga, specifically certain Iyengar teachers I know, to people with various ailments; only rarely do people take me up on it. And that's fine.


Interesting and valuable article. As parents we learn than setting an example often has more impact than lecturing. As with spouses, the harder you push, the firmer they dig in, following the Universal Law: Every action has a reaction. I'll be more mindful of making space for my loved ones and letting them come to the yoga. Namaste

Michele Lynn

I too have loved ones who I believe would benefit from yoga. My son in particular. He's a 19 year old who I believe has bouts of depression but was never diagnoised by a doctor. I've cajoled him into a few classes but he won't stick with it.

I posed this very question, how do you get loved ones to recognize how valuable a yoga practice is, to my mentor and she answered, "be an example."

The thought that maybe I need yoga more than they do never really crossed my mind. It could be true.

Donna Ponder

I am living in this issue. This is the first time I've seen an article about it. It is very helpful to read about others and how they have dealt with this. For now I will continue holding space.


Thank you so much for this article. I am all too guilty of preaching yoga to my friends and family, especially my husband who now finishes my "You know what will help that?" question with a grumpy "Yoga, I bet." Actually he likes yoga and recognizes the benefits, but finds every reason not to fit it into his schedule. I'm doing my best to step away and let it happen.

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