“Why Isn’t My Yoga Teacher Adjusting ME?”: A Lesson in Forgiveness, Grace, and Thought Shifting

Perhaps my favorite part of teaching yoga is offering adjustments, I think, in part, because as a yogi myself, I know how much I love a little extra love and a little extra touch to deepen my own practice==and I love giving that back to my students. So when I’m practicing myself, I’m always eager for when the instructor is going to come over and adjust me, and can sometimes be disappointed when I don’t get adjusted at all….

But, alas, yoga is about taking our physical practice off our mats, and as I ruminated about, “why my yoga instructor isn’t adjusting me” this week, I realized this was an excellent opportunity to practice forgiveness, grace, and some thought shifting–that I can hopefully bring into my off-the-mat life.

We sometimes have these grand fantasies that humans should be able to do anything they want, at any time, for any reason. However, as we say in rhetoric, there are constraints to situations–limitations that impact the outcome. In the come of a yoga instructor, it could totally be body sizes that discourage adjustments from happening. Based on your body type, and the instructor’s body type, there are just some adjustments that aren’t physically going to work–a set of constraints–and therefore, it isn’t safe for you to receive that adjustment. For example, I love giving the adjustment from crescent lunge into revolved crescent lunge. But, in order for that adjustment to be successful, because I am tall with long legs, I have to make sure I’m adjusting a yogi who is also tall–someone who is closer to the ground makes that adjustment awkward and unsuccessful.

One of the reasons adjustments are provided in yoga is for the transference of physical touch from one person to another; studies have shown that people who experience physical touch at least once a day report a better quality of living (and, in an increasing world of disconnectedness, people staying single longer, and a reliance on technology, physical touch is becoming even more important to be intentional about). When your instructor provides an adjustment, they are ultimately transferring energy from one person to another (law of thermodynamics, right?). Of course, people experience bad energy as well, and your instructor may very well be skipping adjustments as to prevent bad energy from transferring to yogis (because we want it all to be a positive experience).  We are all human, and you may happen to catch your yoga instructor on a day in which he/she may not necessarily be giving adjustments because he/she had some kind of energy that they wish to not share with other people. And in that aspect, we have to recognize the humanness of everyone–and to provide some grace and understanding.

Sometimes, especially when we are beginners, and we feel self conscious about our practice, we project out those self conscious thoughts, and we just assume the instructor is not adjusting us because we “must be that bad”. But, this is an excellent opportunity to practice some thought shifting. In yoga, we try to dismantle our ego and to exist from a place of selflessness, awareness, and positivity. When we allow our thoughts to tell us, “I must not be good enough”, or, “I can’t do this”, we are reacting out of that negative and destructive state of the ego, So, when I assume that the instructor must be adjusting everyone else and not me because I am not good enough, then I am also allowing that ego to take hold and motivate my actions. It is in this moment, however, that I can bring attention and awareness to that negative thought, and to shift it to another mantra: “I am good”, “I am doing my best”, “I am proud of myself for showing up”, “I’m making progress”.

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