Physical Adjustments: Technique: Adjustment & Assisting Guidelines

Mindful Touch

  • Good touch is firm and confident without aggression, timidness or sensuality.
  • Use deliberate and non-sensual touch with “no sexual or sensual charge whatsoever.”
  • Take plenty of time, avoiding any sense of rushing. “Hasty yoga adjustments are unsettling to the mind, body and nervous system. Take your time adjusting your students and surrender to the fact that people aren’t going to get touched 800 times in class. Fewer good adjustments are always preferable to more mediocre adjustments.” (Jason Crandell)

Ensure No Sexual or Sensual Charge Whatsoever

I tell teachers to embody—to the letter—brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is commonly translated as celibacy or sexual continence. Practically speaking, it means personal energy management. You draw a very careful boundary around your energetic field, so as to neither project nor make yourself receptive to any sexual or sensual charge whatsoever. In other words, you do not merge your energy with that of the student. The boundary is apparent from your manner, professionalism and technique. – Jill Abelson

Physical Safety Considerations

  • Avoid taking the student out of balance.
  • First, stabilize your own posture. Oftentimes, being in a lunge, horse stance or squat is conducive to physical adjusting. Avoid being out of balance.
  • Next, stabilize the student. This can be the key to making the adjustment feel safe and for it to be efficient and effective.
  • Avoid pressing on joints or spine.
  • If you feel any resistance, stop and observe. Err on the side of caution.
  • With flexible students, focus on stability and foundation. See more: Flexibility & Stretching: Issues & Teaching Techniques.

Beware of Danger Zones

Beware of danger zones… Use extreme care with delicate areas, including the cervical spine, the lower back and the S.I. (sacro-iliac) joint. Never put pressure directly on the spine in any assist. Use caution with twists. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do an assist. – Jill Abelson

With Flexible Students, Focus on Foundation

If a student is very flexible, especially if their joints hyper-extend, then focus your adjustments on reiterating their foundation and connecting them to their core strength—for example, by grounding their sitting bones in seated poses. – Melanie Cooper

Stabilize vs Stretch

I ask that teachers stop exerting leverage on the part of the student’s body that is moving. Instead, provide increased grounding and stability to the part of the student’s body that is fixed. Let’s take Wide-Legged Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana) as an example. In this pose, the pelvis and spine rotate forward over the thighbones—they are the “moving” parts of the pose. The thighbones root down into the ground—they are the “fixed” part of the pose. Do not add leverage to the pelvis and spine. Instead, press down on the thighbones. Grounding the student’s thighs will allow the pelvis and spine to release further into the pose without the vulnerability that comes from adding direct pressure onto the pelvis and spine. This is just one of countless examples... The idea is to use your hands to communicate directly to the student’s body so he or she has a better understanding of the pose. The idea is not to use your hands to press a student further into the pose. You are not a stretching machine that is doing the pose to the student. – Jason Crandell

Direction of Energy

  • Be mindful of the flow of energy in the pose to ensure your adjustment supports and does not negate it.

Direction of Energy

With adjustments, the direction of energy is often the most important element… When pressing someone’s hands down in Downward-Facing Dog, you want the energy to flow evenly downward and throughout the entire hand… Think about how you want to direct them and how energy should flow in each posture… Your best source of information for adjustments is the adjustments you receive… Think about how they make you feel, where the teacher is directing your energy, how the teacher redistributes your weight and shifts your focus through their touch. – Kyle Miller

Asking for Feedback

  • Ask mindful questions such as whether the student would like greater or lesser intensity. As Jason Crandell notes, asking a student if an adjustment feels good is not a wise question. Rather, asking about desired intensity or other such questions is more likely to inspire an honest answer and one that will give you more useful information.


  • Exit the adjustment and the student’s space as mindfully as entering it, releasing pressure gradually.
  • In cases where student is balancing in some way, ending for a breath or two with minor contact can give her time to stabilize before exiting.