Eight Keys to Physically Assisting Hatha Yoga Students

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Eight Keys to Physically Assisting Hatha Yoga Students

Partner yogaBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Physically adjusting a student, into the best possible skeletal alignment, is a skill that is passed from teacher to student. With so many questions about assisting and adjusting students for proper alignment – below are eight keys to guide Yoga teachers in the art of assisting.

1. Explain why, when, and how, you will be making adjustments before your class begins. What is the benefit students will receive after you make an adjustment? Give your students the option to decline an assist. It may be your Yoga class, but you should always ask permission to make a physical assist.

2. When you assist, your posture should be rooted into the ground. Never adjust a student from an off-balanced position, and make sure your spine and skeletal body are in good alignment.

3. Talk to your students as you make physical adjustments. Honest feedback between teacher and student is mutually beneficial. You can develop a feel for vibration and pressure, but feedback will help you and your student to find the best posture.

4. Generally speaking, adjust folding postures on the exhale and adjust backbends on the inhale. Your adjustment will follow the movement of the lungs. If you cannot feel the breath, you should ask your student to breathe louder or to practice ujjayi pranayama while you make an assist.

5. Usually, you should adjust the worst posture first. If you constantly see the same poor posture from one student, avoid singling out the same student every time. That does not mean you should ignore him or her. You may have to come back to this student repeatedly. Do give praise, when he or she gets it right.

6. Be aware of the time the rest of your students are holding a posture. Holding a posture for five breaths is enough for beginners. If you feel more time is needed, and you have covered both sides, you can always come back for a second round.

7. Develop a gentle feel for pressure and vibration. Pain thresholds vary quite a bit between individuals. Some students will keep silent through pain, while others will complain at “the drop of a hat.”

8. Once you have reached an optimum assist, make sure you leave gradually. Do not leave abruptly, as your student may fall out of position.

(c) Copyright 2009 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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