Hands-on adjustments can be helpful in correcting a student’s pose or helping them go deeper into it.
However, some students have been injured from manual adjustments or simply are uncomfortable with the hands-on touch, which is why some studios have strayed from using them.
Black Dog Yoga uses hands-on adjustments in their studio. “We know some students enjoy going deeper into the poses and the massage aspect of some of the adjustments,” said Sigrid Matthews, a co-owner of the studio located in Sherman Oaks, California. “Also, they can help with understanding how a pose works and what direction/intention you might want to work with.”
Matthews said there are benefits to using hands-on adjustments in your studio. She incorporates them into her teaching because “they can feel good and enhance the student’s understanding of the pose.”
However, she acknowledges there are risks and challenges that come with using manual adjustments. “They can be too deep and cause discomfort or injury,” said Matthews. “Sometimes, students misunderstand the intention of the adjustment and think they are doing something wrong.”
Additionally, some yoga students do not like to be touched and it makes them uncomfortable. “Seems like in today’s climate fewer teachers are offering hands-on adjustments,” said Matthews. “I would say, more students than not do enjoy the extra attention.”
If this is the case, there are alternatives to manual adjustments. Instructors can us verbal cues to let students know when they need to correct their pose or how they can get more out of it. Teachers can also use demonstrations to show their students how the pose should look.
If your studio chooses to use manual adjustments, it is best to have a policy in place to keep everyone safe. At Black Dog Yoga, their policy is simple and to the point: Ask for the student’s permission before offering an adjustment.
Matthew’s final piece of advice dealt with variety. “Make sure your instructors know how to give different types of adjustments and that your students feel safe in receiving them,” she said.