Shelbi Miles (E-RYT 500, LMT, CST, YACEP) is a yoga teacher and licenced massage therapist who focuses in craniosacral therapy and visceral manipulation. She has combined these skills to create the Client Relationship Program, helping teachers establish safer classrooms with better communication and awareness of boundaries.

Why is it important to have good client-teacher relationships?

As teachers, we need to understand how our energies and the energies of our students affect the room. When we can be clear with our intent, the students are clear with their responsibilities; we cannot fix students, they must own their own practice. Within these defined boundaries, teachers can give their students the tools to facilitate progress.

How will this program help teachers better their class environments?

This material will help teachers manage their own moods, distractions, and energies, and be more aware. This self-awareness will in turn allow them to go into class without predisposed judgements about their students. Their mindsets become bigger and broader, and they are more perceptive of emotions. Understanding good client relationships helps teachers find a clearer work space, become more balanced, and give 100% to their classes.

This class involves exploring one’s “inner wisdom” in order to help improve one’s students. Can you speak more on this connection between care of self and care of student?

In Pranakriya, we focus on strengthening one’s container. In the context of being a teacher, this means having knowledge of one’s own strengths, weaknesses, and boundary issues. When a teacher has this understanding, he/she can be more present, and can maintain a sense of awareness among the students. The inner wisdom is a teacher’s guide. It allows one to step back, remove judgements and expectations, and let the students do the work themselves.

This program also covers ethics in the class setting. What are some challenging ethical situations that yoga teachers may need to be prepared for?

The biggest challenge is understanding what a student’s boundaries are. Be clear with your own intentions so you can be clear with your students. Teachers must be wary of trying to “fix” students. Teachers also might have issues clarifying payment, managing their time, and using inappropriate assists. We spend hours talking about ethical situations in this program. I also ask the program participants to bring their own stories to share.

How does this program support the Pranakriya lineage?

The ideas about client relationships I share in this program mostly come from my knowledge of craniosacral therapy. As I went through my yoga teacher training, I found that Pranakriya touched upon relationships and boundaries, but no one said anything about their application. This program works on that application. The meanings behind this program are all Pranakriya, but I realized that there was more I could add to help teachers maintain a strong container.

Where have you seen the fruits of good client relationships in your own experiences?

When I started applying these craniosacral-based ideas to yoga, I noticed students started owning their own processes, which is huge. In yoga, students can recognize their own journeys, but only if I say, “This is your work.” I’ve also seen benefits by observing my own teachers. They are better able to listen to their own needs, ground themselves, and control their energies.