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What does it mean to Hold Space?

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Nicole Marcia

Holding Space is a series of professional development workshops for yoga teachers created by Nicole Marcia offered in partnership with Yoga Outreach. One of the benefits of working with Yoga Outreach is having access to a community of other teachers who are working in similar settings and often face the same challenges. Over the last several years we have noticed that the same is not true for yoga teachers working in other settings. Just because we teach in a studio does not mean we won't face challenges or feel the need to discuss circumstances that arise in our classes. Most teacher trainings provide teachers with the essential foundations for conducting public classes but often leave graduates without more in-depth training in negotiating the teacher/student relationship. Establishing and communicating effective and compassionate boundaries, and navigating professionalism in yoga settings requires a safe space for yoga teachers to reflect and grow.

We asked Nicole to reflect on why she created this workshop and what it means to 'hold space'. She says that understanding where traditional psychological theory and yoga intersect as we step into the work of supporting transformation for others requires thoughtful and on-going dialogue. Holding Space is an opportunity to bring yoga teachers from a variety of settings together to engage in dialogue and practice. Together we develop an understanding and inclusive community to address questions about our work, debrief difficult teacher/student relationships, and discuss ethics. 

Nicole never thought that she would be a yoga therapist working with trauma survivors in the field of concurrent disorders. A movie director, a high school English teacher, a photographer, those all seemed more likely. But 13 years after her first teacher training she finds herself here, in this life, the sweet bits and the sour ones too. This unlikely road of trauma stewardship has been an honour for her but it has been a complex journey too.

Nicole says, "I ask myself questions about this path I’ve chosen on a regular basis. What is my scope of practice? What does it mean to work in service of others but at the same time not be goal oriented? Who do I examine issues with when they arise in my teaching?"

Whether we teach in studios, community-based organizations or work in private practice, yoga teachers are keenly aware that our work is about more than just teaching asana. More and more we understand that we are called to hold space for our students to process emotionally and psychologically complex experiences somatically. Supporting our students without a community of support ourselves can be complicated and isolating.  

In this series of teachers circles we will bring together the unique qualities of the teacher/student relationship as it pertains to yoga teaching in diverse settings, personal and professional boundaries, self care and what it means to teach from a strengths-based, trauma-informed place.

In the March 26th session we will be exploring the theme of connection, whatever that means to you. Connection to ourselves, our community, and the world.

Come to the workshops prepared to hear about the importance of interoception when cultivating empathy and how that influences everyone we come into contact with. The sessions will be highly interactive so please come prepared to bring forward any issues in your teaching that you would like support around.

You can register here. You can find more about Nicole here.

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volunteer yoga vancouver
“It’s inspiring to watch the clients see a program through and move onto next stage, progress, become empowered, centered and strong. To be in savasana without opening their eyes, fully relaxed and still, letting go. The women have become strong before my eyes, and its amazing to be a part of..." - Volunteer Instructor, Addictions Treatment Centre.