“The Art of Yoga Adjustments” by Alicia Patterson

I love thinking and learning about different topics in life.  From love to science, it’s all amazing! As a yoga teacher, I was particularly interested to read someone else’s perspective on the technique of giving adjustments to students in yoga class.  I have often felt somewhat uncomfortable at times giving adjustments to every single student.  So, like any human might, I shy away from what I’m not comfortable with.  This of course, is always the best decision when it involves touching someone and putting yourself in their personal space.  I would definitely never want to make someone uncomfortable in a way that would make them not want to return to a yoga class.  That is the exact opposite of what we strive for as teachers.

What we DO strive for, is to help people feel at home, and assist them in a process of exploration.  Personally, I absolutely love adjustments in class.  For me, the more intense the better, yet I know that this is not the case for many.  Things become touchy when a woman is adjusting a man, or vice versa.  And if a man is adjusting a man, there are probably few people (especially in The United States) that would be comfortable with this.  So when adjusting men, unless I am extremely comfortable with them and know their practice, I keep it on the extremely light side, or nothing at all.  There are those token male yoga practitioners who are so skilled in knowing their body and appreciate full-on body weight assists, and have been regulars in class, that I have been comfortable to give them intense adjustments.

I’ve been present in numerous classes where the teacher is wonderful and very sensual…almost in a way that’s over the top.  It is when the teacher knows how to handle themselves and the way they interact with students that influences the students’ experience.  Of course I have no idea what that student is going through, but at times I have noticed teachers being too hands on in a way that is almost jarring to the student.  Part of this is simply because of the nature of yoga.

Yoga helps us get deeply in touch with how we feel and what’s happening for us.  This can be a scary and vulnerable time!  Sometimes it’s not always wonderful, and if someone is already uncomfortable, a yoga teacher being too hands on is the last thing they want.  When someone is new to yoga, emotions fly and it’s hard to know how to process them.  As yoga teachers it is our job to leave them be and let them experience it.  If we can assist them in making them more comfortable physically with a really light touch, or a verbal cue, that’s the best way to go.  It’s SO important for teachers to be mindful of everything that happens in their class…not only physically but emotionally and energetically.  If we are mindful, we can usually tell who’s sending us the signal that they would like the adjustment because it’s helpful or simply because it feels great.

For more on Alicia Patterson, please visit:

Web: http://living-whole.com/ or Email: pattersonliving@gmail.com

Alicia received her training to practice Health Coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is the only nutrition school integrating all the different dietary theories-combining the knowledge of traditional philosophies with modern concepts like the USDA food pyramid, the glycemic index, the Zone diet and raw foods.

At IIN she had the opportunity to study with nutrition, health and counseling leading specialists and educators including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, Elisabeth Lipski, Barry Sears, Walter Willett, Joseph Mercola, Geneen Roth, Debbie Ford, and Iyanla Vanzant.

She received her BA from Mount Saint Mary’s University and worked in the communications and marketing field after graduation.  She then transitioned into working as a professional yoga instructor, working with children with autism, and for an orthopedic surgeon’s practice.

She began practicing yoga in Baltimore MD years ago and deepened her experience and training at Yandara Yoga Institute.  She is also a certified Reiki practitioner, using a combination of energy techniques including reiki, sound therapy, and crystals.  She feels blessed to hold the privilege of helping others discover healing modalities within themselves, and truly believes that we all hold the ticket to our own healing.

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