I go to a lot of yoga, and have for about 20 years. It is a big part of my life. You may not know it, because I am not an amazingly flexible or fit individual, but I use yoga regularly to keep my body and mind fluid and basically pain-free. When I step away from my practice for too long, I find that specific areas of pain return and I am less able to move through my life—emotionally and physically.

Basically, I am a big fan of the philosophy and practice of yoga. However, I am not a big fan of an instructor—especially one who does not know me—coming up and putting their hands on me. This happens a lot and I just cannot figure out why so many instructors think this is OK.

Verbal cues are great—I love them, keep them coming! I did not, however, approve your touch or your energy coming onto my body directly in this way.

I know you may think your soothing voice in my ear and gentle yet firm touch are a bonus to my practice, but it is not. I stiffen. I almost always have an immediate somatic response that is negative, and my practice is interrupted completely. I know I am sensitive—I work as an acupuncturist and touch a lot of people every day. I am sensitive to the energies that are transmitted both with touch and just by simple proximity, and I don't come to yoga to touch more people.

I know I have work to do. I know this is my problem. I also know I am not the only one who feels this way. A yoga class is somewhere I should feel safe, not on guard.

So alas, I implore you, yogis of the world—who have no idea how many thousands of hours I have practiced and how many hundreds of teachers I have learned from—keep your freaking hands off my body! At least until we have established some kind of relationship. Seriously, do not assume that since I am in your class that I will take everything you say and internalize it, or that I am open to your every suggestion you make verbally or more aggressively with your hands.

I appreciate you and the valuable work you are doing—and often for far less money than you deserve. I value that you are cultivating your own practice and sharing that with the community around you, even with those like me who can't commit to a regularly scheduled practice and develop a real pupil-teacher relationship. I offer sincere thanks for that.

But be nice and ask first, and please stop driving me away from this beautiful practice with your hands-on approach.

—"Don't f-ing touch me without asking nicely, and even then I might say no."


Instead of trying to create controversy and scandal where none exists, WW should be highlighting the remarkable success the Native American Youth and Family Association has achieved in meeting the needs of some of our community's most vulnerable children and families ["Losing Ground," WW, Nov. 20, 2013].

Portland Public Schools is making thoughtful investments and sound decisions about the use of dormant property by partnering with an organization to serve children and families who have historically been tragically underserved.

—"Rebecca Schroeder"

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