The imprint that we leave on our students stays with them, the words that we choose, the cues that we give, the support that we offer and on the most primal level, our touch.
To give an intuitive manual adjustment that helps rather than hinders involves putting knowledge into practice and having full confidence as a teacher before it’s ever brought into the yoga studio, Alanna Kaivalya explains in her new e-book, The art of adjustments. The yoga teacher’s guide to safe hands-on assists.
The opening chapter focuses on the importance of touch and how this can be a life changing experience for yoga students. Kaivalya shares a touching and personal anecdote about a student of hers that fully illustrates how important human contact and touch can be.
Kaivalya received surprising feedback from this particular student, a 40-year-old woman who regularly attending her class for nine years who finally confessed that for the most part, her teacher’s adjustments were the only physical contact she received.
This reminded me of a similar experience that I had earlier in the week from a male student, who openly commented to a group of us after class, that he loved coming to the studio because he’s greeted with hugs from everyone. He told us that being away from family, the type of work that he does, isn’t conducive to hugs and human connection and he needs that.
We all need human connection. In that instance, we are acknowledged.
Understanding that basic human need of touch lays the groundwork for hands-on assists in our yoga classes. If you’ve ever received a great adjustment that allowed you to go deeper into a pose than you ever thought imaginable, you never forget it. It gives you insight on your own abilities. The same goes if you’ve ever received an adjustment that hurt you, it stays with you and you lose trust with that instructor.
Kaivalya goes into great detail about establishing a healthy student-teacher relationship and maintaining appropriate boundaries.
In part one, preparation, Kaivalya sets the tone for the rest of the book, “Before we place our hands on any students, we must be sure our intention is only to serve their “highest good.”
To give an intuitive manual adjustment that helps rather than hinders a student involves putting knowledge into practice and full confidence before it’s ever brought into the yoga studio, Kaivalya explains. This is a manual for teachers to fine tune and sometimes relearn how to hands-on assist through video tutorials, photos and concise explanation.
A great tip is to receive the adjustments ourselves from an experienced instructor in order to feel it in our own bodies. She also suggests having a non-student as a guinea pig for your adjustments that can give you honest feedback.
This interactive teacher’s guide is informative without being unnecessarily confusing. It’s well laid out and offers us, yoga instructors, simple, concise, sound advice and practical guidance. Kaivalya infuses the text with her personal touches and expressions such as hand positions that she calls, the Barbie hand and the Barbie-holds-the-microphone hand.
If you can’t wrap your head around it, not to worry, there are clear photo illustrations and video of this.
What makes this book unique from other teaching guides is that if you’re very visual like myself and get blurry-eyed from reading huge blocks of text, you also have the video tutorials with full demonstrations and explanations of each adjustment. This includes how to adjust the common misalignments in the postures and offers both a quick adjustment and more involved adjustments.
Kaivalya keeps it to the point and simple emphasizing that although she’s not providing adjustments for the 840,000 yoga postures (according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika), she does provide the tools, fundamentals and guidelines that can be applied in the yoga classroom. This important resource is one that yoga teachers, either those newer or more experienced with adjustments, can learn from and add to their toolkit.
“By giving students the support and trust they need to be able to move past their current boundaries, we open up new worlds of possibility for them.”
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Ed: Catherine Monkman