I have always been an A student, a perfectionist, an overachiever.
The first time I received an adjustment in a yoga class I felt like I had earned a “B” on that pose — like I had been doing something “wrong”, and the teacher was “correcting” me.
Well there’s a reason it’s called an adjustment and not a correction, and as my practice evolved I realized that I love adjustments. They always take me into a deeper (and sometimes safer) expression of the pose, and I can feel everything click into place under the skilled hands of a teacher.
Any discomfort I previously had with a teacher touching me disappated as I realized that yoga teachers view the body scientifically. They aren’t looking at flab, errant hairs, or curves in the wrong places. They’re looking at bones, muscles, joints, and alignment. It’s the mark of a true professional when a teacher can wrap her arms around my waist in down dog, without making me feel uncomfortable.
So, as I’ve traveled along the adjustment journey, I now enjoying receiving. However, I am a bit wary of giving adjustments. In YogaFit (at least for the first few levels) they teach verbal adjustments addressed to the whole room. If I see a student whose knee is past her toes in a lunge, I’ll address the whole class with a verbal reminder. Usually this works, but sometimes people don’t have the body awareness to realize I’m talking to them.
I’ve gotten comfortable giving adjustments using my hand as a guide to where the body should be. I’ll place it on the floor and have them walk their foot towards it, I’ll hold it in the air and have them meet it when they’re over-extending in triangle. But I’m light years away from doing something like this:
even though I know it’s a lovely feeling, I’m just not ready to take it there yet. Maybe with time I will be able to do it outside of the gym setting.
At the gym, there’s little chance I’ll ever give an adjustment. People don’t come to the gym for that. Even the physical setup of the room — I teach on a “stage” elevated from the rest of the class by about a foot — makes adjusting seem like correcting.
Any suggestions from fellow teachers on this? Is there a time when it stops feeling forced to adjust students?
I’d also love to hear from students who have gotten adjustments that felt wrong, awkward, or uncomfortable.
PPS- And for Yoga Gone Wrong, check out YogaDork’s take on that inane teacher in Couple’s Retreat. Apparently Vince Vaughn has his own opinions about adjustments.
PPPS- All of this talk about Giving and Receiving makes me think of The Giver, one of my all-time favorite books and my selection for our book club this month. Check it out at Amazon if you haven’t read it.
PPPPS- haha just kidding. I swear I’m done now.