May 12, 2014

Don’t Settle for Crappy Adjustments. ~ Ryan Spielman


Have you ever found yourself attempting to bear a yoga teachers’ adjustment, hoping it would be over as soon as possible, or rushing through a pose before the teacher has time to come over to give you a push or a tug?

You don’t have to endure a bad adjustment. You have a say in the matter. I would like to empower you to learn to communicate and be responsible for your own practice and your own body.

Yoga teachers are not infallible. We don’t always know what we’re doing. Even the most experienced teachers cannot feel into your body and have the subjective experience of what’s going on for you as a practitioner.

Therefore, it is important that you are able to communicate with your teacher. Let them know how it feels. Sometimes you have to teach your teacher how to adjust you properly.

Here are some key points to look for:

  • An adjustment should feel good. If it doesn’t feel good, then someone isn’t doing it right, either you or the teacher.
  • If an adjustment is done well it should create more stability. It should give you a feeling of being grounded.
  • It should make more space in your body, creating length in your spine.
  • It should help you breathe more easily and give you a sense of a deeper posture.

If these things are not happening, if you’re feeling pain, especially sharp pain, if  you feel off-balance, or if you don’t like the way the teacher is touching you, it is up to you to say something.

Maybe their hand is in the wrong place or maybe it’s in an inappropriate position touching breasts or genitals. If it’s not enhancing your experience of the posture it’s time to speak up and your teacher can figure out how to work in a more skillful way.

As teachers, this is how we learn. We need your feedback to learn how to best work with your body.

It can be difficult to stand up to a teacher who has the position of authority. It is understandable that a student finds it challenging to say something that might hurt a teacher’s feelings or imply they don’t know what they are doing.

But, I would suggest that if you are in an environment where you are unable to communicate openly, then you have an unhealthy relationship with your practice or your teacher.

It might be the teacher creating an environment where feedback is not welcome, or it may be your own fear of speaking up. Whatever it is, start taking steps to create a healthy practice environment.

It is important to respect the knowledge of your teacher. Hopefully you have chosen a skilled and mature instructor that has a deep understanding of yoga.

I’m not saying to disrespect your teacher’s authority. I am saying that it’s important to communicate more. Be open and honest about your experience. In that way, you and your teacher can work safely and intelligently towards your goals.

So, if an adjustment feels bad, if you’re dreading the teacher coming near you when you’re in a certain posture, if you are being interrupted or adjusted too much, or if you feel disturbed in any way in your practice… it’s time to discuss it with your teacher and find out how you can have a more fruitful yoga practice.


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Photo: Jasmine Kaloudis via Flickr


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