Embody Client & Coach: Own It Enjoy It

Embody Client & Coach: Own It Enjoy It

Have you ever been put in a position where one minute you are a client and the next you have to be a coach? This happens to me at yoga classes and parties all the time. I am known as someone who lives an Ayurvedic lifestyle and who teaches and helps others. This means that sometimes I am called on to coach when I just want to be a student. The challenge? Learning to set boundaries, and to enjoy and be at ease in all the roles I find myself in.


Being At Ease in Multiple Roles 

I am a student, a teacher, a client and a coach. Accepting help AND providing it are both roles that feel good to me. I have coaching office hours at the studio after my weekly yoga class, and when I attend class at the studio I am often still on the mat when I am asked for help. Sometimes before I can help I need a minute to re-group and transition from student or yoga teacher to health coach.  It is my responsibility to see that my needs are met before I try to help others.

Sometimes making the transition between client and coach can be challenging. I have learned that if I create space for myself it is easier to experience the joy of being both student and coach. Independent of the type of client I am working with I have learned that I need to set boundaries to best support ease and success for both of us.

I have also learned that yoga is a core part of both my mental and physical fitness.  I go in part to stop thinking, to let go, and to be present with my body and breath. My personal practice is high on my self-care priority list- it is another technique I use to create space for myself so that I can shift with ease between roles.


The Joy Of Being a Student

I choose to be a lifelong learner. Studies in Ayurveda and Yoga provide a lifetime of learning. My personal practice is an essential part of my morning ritual, but when I practice at home I am still a “teacher” in charge of planning the sequence of poses.  Sometimes I want to let go of decision making and step fully into the experience of being a student. Stepping back into a yoga class lets me do just that.

Attending yoga in a studio or classroom is a great way to get out of your head and into your body. There is a simplicity in showing up, following directions, and moving and breathing in the moment. An hour or two or classroom practice each week is a treat!

One of the challenges I have faced in the past was my resistance to practicing alongside my students. Ego made me self-conscious- I was worried about being less than “perfect” in my poses and often pushed myself into performance mode.  This wrecked my experience and hurt my body.

Now my practice is more focused and precious.  I’m better able to accept the true nature of my body. I don’t take moving with ease for granted anymore.  Instead, I cultivate gratitude for the ability to move. I enjoy moving.

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”

–The Bhagavad Gita

If Yoga is not your thing, find a way to engage as a student or client.  I know my experiences on the other side make me a better listener and more empathetic coach.

Give With A Glad Heart

I have learned that I need my coaching relationships to be clear rather than muddy. I want enough information to be able to really help my clients, and enough time and space to coach and follow up effectively.  This means that a quick conversation after class- either one to one or in a small group- does a disservice to my role as a coach and to Ayurveda as health science.

One boundary I have set is that I generally don’t book appointments in person after class. Instead I ask clients to go through my online booking software.  This prevents us from entering into conversations that are not timely. I intentionally don’t carry my paper calendar or phone into class.  When I leave them locked in the car, I can stay mellow at the end of class knowing that I will not need to start “work” while I am still in student mode.

This is a process that works for me. Yoga class is not a place I want to multitask in.  You may be different.  You might prefer to have quick access to your booking software so you can book appointments after class. But I invite you to consider what you might be giving up.  If you are cool with handing out advice after yoga, go for it.  Turn on a dime, give with a glad heart, in ways that feel good and create balance.  Me? I need a little more space and time to feel comfortable and to make sure that my glad heart is ready to help.


Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan

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Mary Sullivan MS, KRM, AYS is a writer teacher and researcher by education and experience. Mary is a long time member of the Yoga Healer Community. Mary helps people identify and implement daily practices, habits and paradigms that build their wellness and resiliency. She writes and teaches classes on lifestyle medicine for people with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses. Mary began Dare to Self Care in 2013, as an outlet to help others.

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