Practicing yoga is a deeply intimate, personal experience, which is why many people choose to start a home practice. This is where you get to be one with your body. It’s a place to move into the breath and release tension in the muscles that so easily gather throughout your days. To really let go, though, you need a little help from someone else; you need a yoga adjustment.
Adjustments are available to all yogis at all levels.
But, you can’t get one while practicing yoga on your own at home. You need to be in a studio or at least take a private yoga lesson in order to have a trained professional available. This person will be your guide to help you move deeper into a stretch than you’d be able to do on your own.
Yoga Adjustments at Different Levels
Beginner yogis can soak in all the comfort of a Child’s Pose or a Downward-Facing Dog just by having a person press against their lower back, offering a beautiful release. More advanced yogis may enjoy an adjustment while twisting into a back opener, pressing into handstands and other arm balances, or while binding in a variety of poses. There are even adjustments available in Savasana to guide the mind and body further into a state of relaxation.
Adjustments move the body deeper into whichever pose a person is in. They bring attention to a particular area or set of muscles and support the pose. This also offers guidance, as many teachers will talk you through what to do while using their strength to hold you in place. Teachers will tell you to activate a certain muscle in one place or relax another. Such direction allows you to access the full benefits of a pose.
The thing about adjustments, though, is that some people don’t like to be touched. That’s totally understandable! It’s not every day you have a person press their body weight against yours, or straddle part your body to help you hold yourself up. But, in yoga, it’s completely natural. Yogis and teachers alike understand that as much as your own breath and movement can help you release tension, an adjustment takes you one step further than you’d be able to go solo.
Having a stranger put their hands or feet up against you may take some getting used to. Still, it’s something to welcome whenever you get the chance. Don’t freak out the next time you go to a studio and a teacher approaches you for an adjustment. Don’t get startled or lose the focus you’ve centered on a pose. Just recognize that he/she is there to offer support – and also remember, it’s you who’s doing the work. Keep breathing and activating your muscles in whatever pose you’re in. This way, the combination of your efforts and another’s adjustment can provide the best results. An adjustment may help you finally feel the fullness of a certain pose, or to build enough strength/release to progress into an advanced variation of something basic.
Wherever you are in your practice, the physical guidance of another can take you much deeper.