Preparing Before Class: Adjustment & Assisting Guidelines
Understand History & Risks
Matthew Remski has undertaken extensive research into the historical roots and modern issues related to adjustments. The quote below is the introduction to his 2-hour instructional video here on “What Are We Actually Doing in Asana? Injury, Touch Abuse and Trauma in Modern Yoga.”
In many yoga spaces, teachers and students share the expectation that adjustments are a standard part of practice. But this part of modern yoga is marred by an uncomfortable history. At the dawn of the global movement in 1930s India, adjustments in key learning spaces such as the Mysore Palace merged with the somatics of corporal punishment. They conveyed assumptions about spiritualized pain and surrender, delivered through a pedagogy of unquestioned charisma and presumed consent. In combination, these factors have led to decades of blurred boundaries, sexualized touch, and general intrusion. If you’re a yoga teacher and you want to adjust people, this presentation will help you get square with this history first. It will help you think about how you will protect your students from it, especially in an unregulated industry. It will offer guidelines for moving forward in the creation of safe and student-driven yoga education. – Matthew Remski
Start Small & Develop Your Inventory Skills
I always advise teachers to start small and develop their inventory of skills. Owing to the almost complete lack of touch in daily life, putting your hands on students—and feeling their receptivity in return—can be an intimidating process. To assist well means, in essence, mastering the art of non-verbal communication—you are able to read the body and “respond” effectively. – Jill Abelson
- Teachers are advised to only touch students when they have complete confidence in themselves, in seeing the student, and in adjusting the particular pose.
- Many teachers begin adjusting just one pose, and then add another after their practice and experience has developed.
Understand Pose & General Issues
- Before offering assists, have a deep understanding and experience of the pose.
- Understand how different bodies may experience the pose.
- Know primary cautions of pose.
- Be comfortable with variations to adapt pose.
- Be familiar with common issues for students.