Adjustments: An Awkward Love Affair

I began regularly practicing about as an undergraduate. Maybe I just missed the memo, or perhaps it was the particular teachers/studios I frequented, but no one ever explained adjustments to me. A few instructors might have mentioned they were “hands on,” or asked that students raise their hands while in the first child’s pose if they preferred not to be adjusted.

What no one ever explained was the reason for adjustments. Since then, I’ve worked with a lot of students. Many of them thought that an adjustment meant they were doing something “wrong.” I know exactly how they felt because I thought the same thing.

And it makes sense. Sometimes a student is doing something “wrong” in the sense that they have a penchant for moving in a way that might hurt them. However, the vast majority of the time, an adjustment helps you get  deeper into a pose than you thought possible. It can help you get deeper into a pose, and stretch in a bigger way, than almost anyone can manage without some help.

Most teachers have favorite adjustments that they’re likely doing with many students. It’s easy to get into a routine. You know your cues, and some adjustments complement them well. Or you have a few favorite adjustments of your own and want to give that assistance to others. My favorites include adjustments with child’s pose and downward facing dog.

Be open to adjustments. Ask for them. Relish them. Remember why you’re in a class instead of opting for an at-home practice. Take advantage of everything your class and teacher has to offer. It doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doing something wrong or that everyone else is getting deeper than you (and if they are, so what?). It’s your 90, 60, 45, or even 30 minutes. Make them count.

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