Hands on Adjustments- 5 Tips for Effective Teaching
Here are five tips for hands on adjustments for yoga teachers. Hands on adjustments is one component of yoga instruction along with effective cues and demonstrations. Use clear instruction while demonstrating and giving dramatic emphasis to what you want to make most clear. Emphasize what to do versus what not to do. It is most important to watch the students in order to see where cuing or hands on adjustments might be most helpful. Get off your mat and out into the room to better observe the students and give proper guidance. When teaching, teach. Do your personal practice at another time.
5 Tips for Hands on Adjustments
Tip 1- Stabilizing and Easing
Your first priority in hands on teaching is to help the students be steady and at ease in their practice. This begins with verbal cues and demonstration. If you determine that hands on adjustments would be helpful, and the student agrees, you should address any risk issues that could lead to injury. You should begin with the foundation of the pose. You may suggest the use of props or modifications to the pose. When the foundation is established, give hands on cues using the grounding quality of touch. Bring renewed attention to the breath because breath flow is steadiness and ease.
Example of Stabilizing and Easing in Trikonasana- Place your foot by the forward extended foot to emphasize a point of contact. Work with the students breathing pattern to ease spaciousness in the chest that happens with inhalations. Cue the deeper release that happens with the exhalations.
Step 2: Elongating the Spine
Work from the foundation of the pose to elongate the spine in order to take up more space. We can cue the connection between the root and the extension. Work with the students breath to physically and verbally cue the length of the spine. Offer a light point of contact at the top of the head while encouraging the student to elongate up into it.
In asasas like Sirsasana, make this contact on the feet to cue elongation of the spine and the entire body. Allow for ease and steadiness with your touch. And always allow for an escape for the student while supporting the pose.
Step 3: Rotating, Flexing, and Extending the Spine
Being able to elongate the spine is an essential step in preparing for rotating, flexing, or extending it. Many students will attempt to twist, fold forward, or bend back before they lengthen their spine. This may limit the range of motion and increase the likelihood of strain. Always cue the elongation of the spine with the inhalations. Move gradually into twists and flexion while the student exhales. You could use many qualities of touch like grounding, emphasizing, and light moving. Cue with the students breathing pattern- inhale, elongate, exhale, rotate or extend farther.
Step 4: Refining the Asana
Once you have mastered the first three steps, you will have established the basic elements of the asanas. We started with the foundation and then moved into refining the intensity of the asana experience. Continue to guide the student to refocus the breath and feel the balanced, steady flow. With hands on adjustments, keep your student coming back to connecting breath and movement, breath and sensation, breath and awareness.
Step 5: Deepening the Asana
With the essential elements of hands on adjustments, encourage deeper exploration without loosing the essential qualities already established. Sometimes deepening the asana means staying in the pose longer. It may mean going further including variations and introducing new elements. Encourage anyone who is straining to back off, slow down, and stay in the practice. It is not about how far one goes, but how one goes into a pose.
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