One of the things we have to start learning as yoga teachers, trauma informed yoga teachers, and humans is that we don’t know everything. Specifically, we can’t know another’s experience, which means we have to trust them when they tell us how they feel. 

If you are a yoga teacher and especially a trauma informed yoga teacher and a student tells you that something you did offended them it’s important to hear that and repair that even if it was not your intention to do harm.

There are many factors which cause us to explain away, dismiss, and take way too personally feedback from others. For me, it has always been my perfectionism that got in the way. Releasing that need and knowing that it is impossible to get things right all the time has allowed me to become more vulnerable and available to hear when I’ve harmed someone and get invested in how I can make it right. I don’t take it to mean I’m a bad person. I don’t take it to mean anything about me. I immediately look to how I can make things better for them.

Recently I had the opportunity to be on the other side. I was hurt by a friend who made reference to a murderer of my ancestors in a positive way. The incident made me red hot inside and a great wave came up through my body urging me to walk away. Because I’m familiar with my body’s stress response reactions, I was able to feel those sensations and hold enough space for them that I could stay. My ability to remain in the room allowed me to receive the support from other friends who surrounded me and to be present for my embarrassed friend’s apology.

It is not always the case that we should stay when our body is screaming “leave”. Sometimes getting out of a potentially dangerous situation is the absolute right move. I happened to be safe enough and have enough capacity to stay.

How to apologize… If you cause harm, here’s what you can do:

1. Listen carefully and hear what the harmed person is sharing with you. They are giving you an opportunity to understand something you may not have known about.
2. Make sure you get what they are saying. If you don’t, you may want to reflect on and educate yourself on what mistake you have made. Do not ask them to do that for you.
3. Apologize specifically for what you have done and without any excuses.
4. Commit to what you can do to repair the relationship and avoid the same mistake going forward.

Number 5 can be tricky…

5. Be open to the possibility that your apology may not be accepted. 

Part of getting over our perfectionism is getting that that not everything gets resolved or gets forgiven and forgotten in our timeline. A true apology expects nothing in return. As hard as it is, we may need to be okay with open endings.


Practice working with feelings of being harmed with this meditation.