Learning to Love Yoga Adjustments
My 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training is winding down, with just another week and a half to go as I write this. Last night we had a session that I’d been looking forward to, but also kind of stressing over.
It was our first class on adjusting. What’s stressful about that, you ask? Well, for context, you need to know I’m a 50-year-old married man … and all six of my teacher training tribe-mates (and our teacher) are young women in varying relationship statuses.
So I was going back-and-forth between “Isn’t this gonna be great, learning how to help students into proper alignment?” and “Isn’t this gonna be kind of … weird?”
Quick answer to the second question: it was only weird when I was thinking it might be weird. Once I, um, “adjusted” to the fact that I was just learning about another (and crucial) facet of teaching yoga, I was fine.
We paired off and our teacher led us through basic adjustments for Child’s Pose, Down Dog, and so forth. I was a bit tentative at first, but my partner cracked me up by telling me to “be more of a ‘man’ about it.” What I took from that was to stop treating her like a fragile glass figurine who’d shatter under even my most delicate touch. Once I did so, it actually felt like I was making a positive difference to her alignment.
I’d like to say I was a grownup the entire time and never got all giggly, but all of us kind of “lost it” when our teacher demonstrated the “veterinarian” adjustment for Down Dog. For the uninitiated, this involves standing behind your down-dogging student, crossing your arms, and reaching between their calves (or higher) to rotate the legs inward. But once I actually tried doing the adjustment (and experienced receiving it), all I thought of was, “Oh yeah, that really works to put you in the right position.”
At the end, though, our teacher demonstrated a variety of head-to-toe adjustments that can be made to a person in Savasana. Seeing this, I kind of thought, “Welllll, that may be a little too … something … for me to do right here and now,” and said, “I’m gonna sit this one out.” Luckily for me, my teacher and classmates encouraged me to get (way) out of my comfort zone.
So, I took my turn being adjusted, and it helped me relax even further into Savasana. When it came time for me to adjust, I paired up with a different classmate, and went through the sequence of making adjustments to her while our teacher walked me through it (and while the rest of our class looked on … no pressure!).
But here’s the thing. I did fine. No negative feedback from my “adjustee,” our teacher, or anyone else. And that’s when it really hit home for me that, no, I wasn’t cheating on my wife or being a creepy old dude. I was learning how to help make yoga an even more positive experience for another human being. Nothing “weird” about that!
Yoga teachers, how did you get comfortable with adjustments? Students, how do you feel about them?
Photo via Bad Yogi community member Ciaran McCloy