It’s time to chat about…CHATTING

“I’d be really interested to know how you move your student into the yoga practice if they really want to ‘chat’ at length about what’s going on in their lives at that moment?!”
“I usually end up chatting for about 15 or 20 minutes before we start the yoga practice, and since I want to give them the full hour they paid for, I usually end up going over at least 20 minutes. Is that okay?”

I hear these questions from teachers ALL THE TIME. Maybe you have some questions like this for me also?

Well, here is the short answer:: NO. This is not okay.

Here is the longer one::

You have heard me go on and on about how the depth of private yoga work is centered around your relationship and feelings of trust between you and your client. How can you do that if you don’t spend 20 or more minutes chatting before and after the session?

This spans several topics I cover in depth my teacher training including the boundaries of time, emotional boundaries, and the best way to build relationships, so there is clearly much I could say on this topic {approximately eight hours worth of talking…}

I’ll be brief::

The more a client is able to share with you about what is most present in their lives, minds, and bodies, the better equipped you are to create sessions that meet their deepest emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. So yes, if a client is willing to “chat” with you, and share what is going on for them, that is really useful information and you should be soaking it up. It may seem like what your client really needs is a kind ear and a place to vent. I don’t doubt that they need that, but you also have lots of other tools to be able to help them feel better (or more aware, present, relaxed, awake) and can do much more to facilitate change and offer support other than just “listening”. There are other professionals who are trained to listen, and unless you are a therapist or counselor, that is not your role.

If there is something serious and important taking place in a client’s life, I think you can get all the information you can skillfully use to create a really meaningful session in under seven minutes.

Yup, I’m giving you seven minutes (or less!) to gather as much information as you can, and then you have got to get into their bodies.

They may need help to stop talking. Many of us do, myself included (!) when I’m on my acupuncturist’s table. If they need your help, please try this:

The moment you can get a word in edgewise, say, “Wow, that is so intense. I am so sorry. How is your body holding up through all this?” or, “Where are you feeling that in your body?”

And then they will say, “Yeah, you know, my neck has just been killing me.” or “Well, I haven’t been able to sleep so I’m just exhausted…”

and, Bam! Now they are handing you problems you have the solutions to.

If you find your client really wants to gab about more trivial chatter, there at at least two options here.

One:: They do not feel like doing the serious work of being present. If that is the case, I bet there is a way to make the session feel more lighthearted without gossiping about Prince William and his bride. {I have a client that loooves to try to talk about them 😉 }

Two: They are not feeling fully seen by you and are {unconsciously} acting out for more attention. If you can find a way to be more nurturing and present for them, this will help.

Alright y’all. Share with us here. Is this something you struggle with? Do you find these tips helpful?

10 Responses to “It’s time to chat about…CHATTING”

  1. Sarah Farnsworth

    I am so glad you wrote about this! This is something I have always struggled with myself, in the past when I have done tutoring jobs, yoga jobs, etc. And it’s also something I myself have an issue with sometimes when I am the one being helped. I usually want to jump right into a practice or a therapy session, but I feel like I need that moment to ease in so as not to overwhelm the other person who is helping me, or to overwhelm myself! That usually comes in the form of talking about the weather (yikes) and then finding that segue myself. (I don’t think I take 20 minutes though!!)
    I’m glad you gave a time limit, it’s what I need going into private sessions more seriously now! Thank you!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes! You are so so welcome Sarah. This blog has been a long time coming. And I just want to reiterate, it is totally fine to have a minute of settling down and checking in chatting with your client. What I meant to address here are the teachers that chat for 20 minutes at the beginning of every single session. That is a no go, but it sounds like you are totally on the right track! Thanks for chiming in. XO

  2. Carrie

    Great post! For me, as a teacher who offers a therapeutic edge to 1:1 sessions, the talking at the beginning of our sessions typically involves motivational coaching, so it actually IS part of the session. And I ensure that the boundary is clear by ending the session at the designated time. Thanks for the guidance, Francesca!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes, I totally hear you on this Carrie! There are also times and places in my work that the “chatting” is really deep teaching in disguise. All that matter is that we are serving our clients to the best of our abilities. Thanks for adding this great thought!

  3. Gail

    This is really useful guidance Francesca! I think the whole issue around being able to set boundaries is crucial if yoga teachers are to be seen as credible professionals.. & is often not covered at all in yoga teacher training.. Also, I have so often taught students who knew me as a friend first – so when I arrive for their lesson – it’s so easy to get involved/distracted with the ‘chatting’.. However, when I’m teaching a private yoga session they are paying me to provide them with exactly that & I feel I’m just not being fair to them if I don’t set clear boundaries (obviously in a kind way) – & move on to the yoga practice as soon as possible; your suggestion of a time limit & linking what they’re saying to how they’re feeling in their body as a way to do this is brilliant! Thank you!

    • Francesca Cervero

      You are so welcome Gail! I really think it is clear boundaries that create a container that allows for the deepest work to be done. Love to you. XX

  4. Rachel Toll

    Excellent advise! I am struggling more, however, with the chit chat afterwards! As though now that the lesson is over, we can visit. And one student even received a call as she was getting her things collected (I have a home studio), and proceeded to sit in my living room on talk to her son for 10 minutes. Naturally she is a lovely person and I was uncomfortable explaining that this was not ok! Help

    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes! I can picture that moment exactly! In the moment, that may have been a hard one to deal with, but generally I do this: walk to the door and hand them their coat and bag, all while beaming a big friendly smile at them. 🙂

  5. Rachel

    I forgot about this great post because at the time my issue was the after session chat. Then this new student came along who chats before, DURING, and after ! However, I have instinctively followed your guidelines above and even said to him gentle, ” let’s try not talking now, Jonathan and just feel the silence in your body . Reading this post again solidifies your sound advise! Thank you again!


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