It’s that moment in downward facing dog, or triangle, or side plank when I hear the instructor’s footsteps coming towards me and I know they’re going to adjust me. Instantly my brain takes a body scan, trying to identify what I’m doing wrong, I fidget my hands, shift my hips or flex my feet a little bit more. Instead of allowing the instructor to guide me in the right direction, my whole attention is focused on how I can fix myself. I used to think that if I’m doing the pose correctly, I won’t be adjusted and conversely, if I’m adjusted in class, I must be doing the pose incorrectly; but I’ve come to realize that neither conclusion is helpful to me or my yoga practice. Below are some thoughts on how to keep your zen during and after an adjustment!
1. Surrender the ego. It’s number one because it’s the hardest and the most important. If you’re worried about how you look or what the instructor/other students think, you’re missing out on the whole experience! Do your best to follow instructions for how to get in and out of a pose safely, then focus on how your body feels and the quality of your breath. Remember that yoga is a non-competitive and non-spectator sport.
2. Adjustments are your friend. If an instructor comes to assist you, chances are it’s because they see a mis-alignment in your body with a potential for injury. Often the instructor will be able to see your alignment more clearly than you can feel it. Any adjustment that doesn’t address safety concerns is simply a refinement for a pose, so don’t worry about “doing it wrong,” you’re right on track!
3. Stay Steady. The temptation is strong to try and fix yourself, but if the instructor is already nearby and ready to assist you, hold your ground and listen to their instructions. A good adjustment will establish a deeper connection between the mind and body, allowing you to find the same precise alignment later and carry it through your practice.
4. Keep an open mind. There are no set rules for instructors on how to make adjustments and many variations exist within the yoga community regarding how the poses are meant to be practiced. Allow yourself to be open to experiencing something new. Ultimately, you are your own best teacher if you truly listen to your body and breath.
5. Communicate.Every instructor adjusts differently – some will only intervene for safety concerns while others are more hands-on and help to deepen your posture. Know whether you’re comfortable being touched and don’t be afraid to talk to the instructor before class or while they’re giving the adjustment. It ‘s okay to opt out of hands-on adjustments. Just try to save any lengthy questions for after class so you don’t interrupt the flow.
6. Reflect. After class or the next day, think about how you felt during the adjustment and whether the teacher’s assistance enhanced your practice. Whether the adjustment was beneficial, didn’t feel quite right or if you still don’t understand the alignment of a certain pose, bring it up the next time you come to class. Instructors offer adjustments to instruct and enhance their students’ practice, so feedback is always welcome.
Thanks for checking in,