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Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast – Episode 22

Yoga adjusting what to consider

22: Yoga adjustments: Some important considerations

In this episode we’re highlighting some important considerations when you’re deciding whether to offer a physical yoga adjustment or not. 

Adjustments have been chronically abused in the past. So now, when talking about adjustments we have to start the discussion with consent. (Which should have always been the way.)

So, in this episode we’ll start – at the beginning – with consent. Then we’ll look at:

  • Some different reasons behind offering adjustment 
  • Identifying the intention behind your adjustment 
  • How to get feedback
  • Building your confidence with adjustments

— 

Learn adjustments with us! 

Yoga adjustments: An introduction and refresher for yoga teachers

Sunday 5th November 1:30 – 5:30

This is a really useful refresher workshop – the asanas that we’ll focus on are asanas that you’re likely to be teaching regularly, so that the knowledge you gain can be immediately useful to your teaching. You’ll be guided through each adjustment, with key safety points to be aware of, before being able to practice these adjustments on others, plus receiving them yourself, with guidance and feedback from Holly, and from your fellow yogis.

Listen to ‘Yoga adjustments: Some important considerations’ right here:

As always, we would love to know what you think of the Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast, do leave an honest review if you can, or drop us a message @yogahero_teachers

Listen to ‘Yoga adjustments: Some important considerations’ where you get your podcasts:

Thank you, and happy listening!


Yoga adjustments: A checklist

This yoga adjustments podcast episode is accompanied by our free checklist, to serve as a guide and a reminder of what to check, as you build confidence and experience offering adjustments in your yoga classes.

Get yours here:


    Previous Episodes of Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast

    Episode 43: Should yoga teachers care about money?

    Episode 42: Should yoga teachers demo while teaching?

    Episode 41: Should yoga teachers use Sanskrit?

    Episode 40: The business of teaching Yoga Nidra

    Episode 39: How to develop a consistent Yoga Nidra practice (even with a busy life)

    Episode 38: A Yoga Nidra for yoga teachers

    Episode 37: Yoga Nidra: The art of sleeping to wake up

    Episode 36:: How I Became a Full-Time Yoga Teacher

    Episode 35: How to Become a Full-Time Yoga Teacher

    Episode 34: Balancing having a job and teaching yoga

    Episode 33: Balancing Parenting and Teaching Yoga

    Episode 32: How to teach yoga workshops

    Episode 31: How much to charge for your yoga classes

    Episode 30: How to create your yoga brand

    Episode 29: How to layer your asana classes with yoga philosophy

    Episode 28: What’s your WHY as a yoga teacher

    Episode 27: Setting up your own classes as a yoga teacher

    Episode 26: How would you teach yoga if you weren’t afraid?

    Episode 25: Do I need a yoga brand?

    Episode 24: Tips for new yoga teachers

    Episode 23: Define who you are as a yoga teacher

    Episode 22: Yoga adjustments: Some important considerations

    Episode 21: Tips for teaching yoga beginners

    Episode 20: The joys of being a yoga teacher

    Episode 19: Overcome imposter syndrome as a yoga teacher

    Episode 18: Create your social media calendar

    Episode 17: A complete guide to sequencing yoga classes

    Episode 16: Do you need to teach a new yoga sequence each week?

    Episode 15: Introducing yoga philosophy in to your asana classes

    Adjustments: Some important considerations – Transcript

    In this episode we’re highlighting some important considerations when you’re deciding whether to offer a physical adjustment or not.

    When I first started teaching yoga, it felt like if someone came to a class and left not having been adjusted, that they’d had half a class. I can’t remember where exactly that feeling came from, but a decade ago, physical adjustments did seem to be so much more common and much more an integral part of the class than they are now.

    Since then, a lot has come up about the ethics of adjustments how they’ve been chronically abused. So now, when talking about adjustments we have to start the discussion with consent. Which should have always been the way.

    So, in this episode we’ll start – at the beginning – with consent. Then we’ll look at:

    • Some different reasons behind offering adjustment
    • Identifying the intention behind your adjustment
    • How to get feedback
    • Building your confidence with adjustments

    Just for total clarity, this episode doesn’t include how to make the physical adjustments. In my humble opinion this can  only be taught face to face, so that you can immediately practice what you learn ideally on different bodies, different asanas, get honest feedback and shape your learning.

    If you’re interested to learn about adjustments, or to refresh your adjustments knowledge and confidence after the two years of social distancing, we have an adjustments weekend coming up on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April, which is a complete introduction and refresher to offering adjustments, including how to get consent, how to read people, how to give the adjustment and how to get feedback.

    Ok, let’s get going!

    Consent

    Getting consent is absolutely non-negotiable. The depth of inappropriate behaviour has highlighted how the discussion of consent has to be clear, open and before the physical adjustment takes place. It sounds so obvious doesn’t it, this should have always been the case! I personally would recommend opt-in consent, meaning that someone is telling you that they do want adjustments, rather than that they don’t. And I’d recommend this not being a ‘hands up if you want adjustments’ at the beginning of the class – you may well forget who has said what, and people may well feel exposed and they may go with the majority to not feel embarrassed. Of course that depends on the person, the environment and your relationship with them, but to get consent that you’re sure about; give people time to consider it and doing it before class helps.

    I’d also recommend that whatever the yoga student does to indicate consent can be retracted, in case they change their mind mid-class, and I’d also say, make it really, really clear. I’ve been to a studio before where they’ve used beautiful stones for example. Everyone was taking one as they checked in, so I did too, wondering if I’d need to show it to say I’d booked the class, and lo and behold I was adjusted in the first asana. No one had explained that that was what the stone meant, they assumed I know, but I didn’t. Fortunately, I didn’t mind, but that so easily could have been a really negative for someone.

    Lastly in terms of consent, if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, or tired, or you have an injury and you’d prefer to not offer adjustments, it’s best for them to have not been offered, as people who did want them, will be disappointed.

    At Yoga Hero, we have cards on our reception desk that say ‘I’d like to be adjusted today’. If someone would like adjustments, they take a card and put it by their yoga mat. They can hide it at any time if they change their mind. And if any of our teachers don’t want to offer adjustment in their class, we just takes the cards off the desk so they can’t be picked up by yoga students. It seems to work well for us!

    So – in terms of action steps, have a think about the different places you teach, and what measures those places, or you, will need to put in place to get opt-in consent. If you rent out a space, you might like you get your own cards printed, or if you teach in a studio, just check what they’ve got in place and that it’s clear to you.

    Some different reasons behind offering adjustments

    In short, you’ll likely offer adjustments to help someone find safer alignment, or to help them deepen the pose. I would really really stress here that offering adjustments to make someones asana look more like what you’d expect or what you’re used to is a huge red flag. Often we learn adjustments on a teacher training, where our fellows trainees are of course, experienced yogis, probably strong and flexible and very connected to their body. You practice your adjustments on them and they look like the asana from your yogi textbook. But this doesn’t translate to the general public. So many people who come to open level yoga classes have tension, are disconnected from their bodies, that their deepest expression of poses might look like your warm up. So learning adjustments and deepening your confidence and experience comes with time and patience. Later, we’ll talk about getting feedback, this is so important to check your assumptions about someone’s body, because you will be making some assumptions when you step over to adjustment them. This moves us on to….

    Identifying the intention behind your adjustment

    If you’ve been to one of our adjustments weekend in the past, you’ll know how we stress the importance of observing observing your student’s bodies and how they move, observing how your instructions fall on people, observing your students facial expressions and the colour of their faces!

    All that’s pretty straightforward hey?

    I’d also invite you to observe yourself. When you feel compelled to move towards someone to offer and adjustment, can you just stop for a beat first and ask yourself, what’s your intention behind the adjustment. Is it to make the asana more stable? More easeful? More challenging? More like the alignment you’re used to? Deeper? There’s no right or wrong intention, but you must be aware of it in order to execute the adjustment.

    How to get feedback

    You’ll get feedback from your yoga student before, during and after the adjustment. This might be verbal, but it’ll likely be non-verbal, via facial expression, their breath, body language or all three.

    As you approach the student, does anything change? Do they try to see what you’re doing, do they tense up, do they relax?

    As you’re offering the adjustment, does the student hold their breath, or can you see the breath deepen? Can you tension appearing anywhere?

    As you complete the adjustment, what happens? Does the student pause to hold or rub anything indicating discomfort? Do they hold the alignment you’ve offered to them? Do they look zen, or confused, or a bit taken aback?

    All this goes in to the big box of learnings, which can give  you feedback about your approach, the start, middle and completion of the adjustment and the immediate time after.

    It’s common for a yoga teacher to say, mid-adjustment – ‘how is that?’ or something like that, but in my experience most people are so polite that they won’t say, in the middle of a busy yoga studio ‘errr that doesn’t feel great’. They’ll say ‘fine, thanks’. So rather than saying ‘how is that?’ you could say ‘would you like more or less pressure, or more or less intensity’ or ‘do you think you could find this on your own’ to help get feedback without them having to say it’s not what they want.

    In an ideal world. after class, you’d approach anyone that you had any negative signals from to say ‘Have you got a sec? I’d love to help you in your alignment for x asana that I adjusted you in earlier, first of all, can I ask how the adjustment felt, and was it clear what I was trying to help you do” and just learn from the response.

    And getting feedback leads us directly in to …..

    Building your confidence with adjustments

    Aside from teaching people who are pregnant, from experience, I would say that offering physical adjustments is the part of teaching yoga that gives yoga teachers, especially new yoga teachers, the most fear.

    And in my humble, this fear only goes away with experience and confidence. On our adjustments weekend, we practice practice practice common adjustments, get feedback, and practice some more, with the aim of really instilling confidence and experience, which do only come with practice.

    So, to get experience, you’ll want to practice on willing people first, and I’d say you’re looking for people; friends, family, yoga students, who you can trust to be honest with you. There is no point practicing on people who will say ‘ oh yeah, that felt fine’ even if it didn’t; there’s nothing to be gained by you or them and there’s potentially a lot to be lost. Ask for feedback during and after the adjustment; how did it feel, where did the person feel it, could they find the alignment again on their own, etc.

    So hopefully that’s some good food for thought on offering adjustments. It’s worth saying here that with such a lot of negativity surround adjustments, it can feel easier to just not give them. But think back to any and all positive experiences you’ve had when being adjusted, maybe it unlocked an asana for you, maybe it just felt amazing, maybe it helped you relax… And bear these positive experiences in mind, they’ll help keep you motivated as you’re crafting your knowledge and experience.

    We’d love to know how you’re finding these episodes, and if they’ve been helpful. Please do let me know by emailing hello@yogahero.co.uk or sending a DM to @yogahero_teachers on instagram.

    And, as always, happy teaching.