Highly Sensitive People have sensitive nervous systems. They pick up on more things in their environment and they process them more deeply than others.
High sensitivity is a superpower but it does have its challenges, as sensitives are likely to reach overwhelm and burn out more quickly than their non-sensitive friends.
While Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are a minority in the “real” world, you can bet that in a yoga class they’re in the majority. Life is busy and hectic, and yoga is the PERFECT way to calm their often frazzled nervous systems. HSPs are also deeply spiritual, creative and caring beings, so they just love connecting with other like-minded people in your class.
Even though Highly Sensitive People are flocking in large numbers to yoga studios (and are often the ones teaching), yoga classes aren’t always the best places for Highly Sensitive People.
Here are some great ways to support your Highly Sensitive Yoga students:
1. Teach practices that calm the nervous system.
2. Be mindful of sensory stimuli in your studio. HSPs can get overwhelmed and turned off when there’s too much going on. This includes smells (yes, incense), sounds, air quality and clutter.
3. HSPs might take some time to feel comfortable in a new situation. Don’t presume they’re unable just because they take their time. Don’t rush them!
4. Offer some choices and options when you’re teaching (nobody likes a dictator for a yoga teacher), but not so many that they get overwhelmed.
5. HSPs have a powerful intuition. Help them to cultivate it by encouraging them to listen and trust their inner wisdom at all times.
6. HSPs are generally conscientious students and will always try their best. Please encourage them to listen to their own needs rather than being a “good student.”
7. Know that HSPs don’t really feel comfortable or perform well when they feel like they’re being watched, evaluated or criticized. But don’t ignore them either.
8. HSPs might socialize less during or after class, as they sometimes need time to process their experiences privately. Please don’t take it personally, they probably loved your class, they just don’t feel like talking about it.
9. As a teacher, have your own yoga practice and do your own work so you are calm, grounded and authentic while you’re teaching. HSPs know that you’re human and that you have your own stuff going on, but they’re sensitive and can pick up on everything that’s going on for you.
Photo Credit: Ingrid Pullen