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How to make corrections in yoga? Adjustment in ashtanga yoga

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How to make corrections in yoga? Adjustment in ashtanga yoga

Mysor Room, your student performs asana, correct it, give a verbal command, but after a while you may wonder: what next? It is often thought that verbal correction is sufficient.

Shifting your foot, aligning your hips, moving your hand … But what if nothing else can be done? Then we move to physical correction in yoga based on knowledge of the mechanisms governing a given asana.

None of us have an x-ray in sight. Based on a superficial view it is difficult to assess what is important and what will really help the student in a given position. You have to have knowledge, apart from your own feeling and personal experience flowing from your own body.

Remember, everyone is different, we differ not only in weight, height, but also in the skeleton, muscle system and nervous system. There are specific characters when the student has reached his limit. By learning about the architecture of the position, we will know why someone performs this asana in this way .

Verbal corrections are very important when you cannot perform a physical correction. Words are an indispensable tool when the student is not yet able to isolate his muscles and move every part of the body in the direction we want.


Yoga corrections are not always the same. Ask yourself:


  • What do you want to achieve before touching the student? Where are you really going?
  • Is the correction done safely and effectively?
  • Does the correction extend?
  • Does it increase student’s awareness of a given asana?
  • Do you stretch your muscles or do you accidentally interfere with your joints or ligaments?
  • Is the student relaxed or do you feel his muscles are giving in to your pressure?
  • Is the muscle tense?


The art of giving yoga corrections

Until now, physical corrections have not been popular, but with the spread of the Ashtanga Yoga Method, and above all the Mysor Style , they have become a permanent element of every teacher’s practice.

There are more and more discussions about the injuries that arise during the correction given. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that a well-made correction brings relief in position and extends the range of motion. We not only work on stretching then, but we acquire new consciousness in asana.

Verbal corrections have the ability to vary from teacher to teacher. Performing the position of twine ( Hanumasana ) often hears the correction to twist the thighs so as to align the hips, pointing the femur down. In positionOn the other hand, the Warrior One ( Virabhadrasana 1 ) should definitely turn your thigh outwards.

In the position of Warrior Two ( Virabhadrasana II ) it is required that the knee always be above the heel and not go forward in front of the toes, while in the position of the Powerful ( Utkatasana ) the knees definitely extend beyond the toes.
Most verbal corrections are decided by the aesthetic impression. Teachers compare asana to the one in the book and strive to make every student look like that.

Following the pattern of asanas placed in books is often misleading and leads to injury. There is very little talk about the student’s personal feelings, hardly any teacher personally asks his student what he feels when performing a given position.

Teacher’s experience

An important aspect of speaking and assisting in asana is the teacher’s personal experience. Sometimes, however, experience prevails over proper attendance. Past injuries have the fact that we often look through their prism. We suggest a given setting thinking that another body will react in the same way.
Unfortunately, what serves us is often not compatible with someone else.

Sometimes it is so that a given setting for one student may be appropriate, while in the other it causes pain, and the same correction, dangerous in one case, will bring relief to someone else.

For proper functioning, our tissues need pressure and sometimes a weird-looking correction from the outside can actually contribute to the health of our joints and fascia.


“Sthira Sukha”, i.e. the position must be stable and comfortable

First of all: it’s worth contouring the position outlines first. Then focus on the correction , which should be addressed with great attention. It is not enough to look at the student to know if you can still push him or stop him.

The easiest way to check this is simply to ask how he really feels in asana. Many people cannot determine their sensations , so if a student is not able to answer such a question, you can refine it by asking about the feeling of compression or tension.

Muscle tension is easy to recognize. Rather, compression is often mistaken for it. Therefore, you indicate a place where compression can occur and ask the student if it can be felt. If so, you give tips on how to avoid this pressure and suggest less intensive exercise.

You can always stay on the border of compression, if it is not accompanied by chronic pain. Pain is always real. It is obvious that everyone is different and does not exist only in their heads. Being aware of the factors affecting pain allows us to understand and counteract it.


Questions that you can use during this arrangement:

  • Where’s the pain?
  • Is it deeply embedded, superficial, divergent or concentrated, located in one place?
  • Is the pain extensive, intense or weak, linear, punctual?
  • Is the pressure weak, very heavy, devastating?
  • Is it pulsating?
  • What is its temperature?
  • Is it very gripping, hard, pulling, flexible, dragging, radiating, freezing?
  • Return to basics. If this is a standing position, think about how your feet should be apart, where are your eyes going?
  • What to do and how to go deeper into position without losing the correct setting?
    ashtanga yoga


Key to modify position

The basic limitations are not muscle, but connective tissue or fascia that defines muscle. The fascia can be thickened and shortened if it is not stretched regularly. In addition, its fibers can overlap, which further affects the loss of stretching.

The second limitation is the nervous system, which not only controls which muscles should be tense and which are relaxed, but also protects the muscles from injury. The muscular system sends signals before the next stretch faster or later, it all depends when it comes later.

The nervous system is plastic throughout our lives and can rearrange its patterns. Considering advanced yoga students, their ranges are significantly shifted, so signals from the nervous system are extended over time. The situation is different when we consider, for example, a group of cyclists who are already suffering from doing stretching.

There is a very big difference between the precision and accuracy of individual items. Some yoga teachers are very dogmatic in their corrections.

Instead of duplicating patterns and sticking to your own premonitions, all you have to do is answer the question: what should you do to prevent injury and at the same time that the position should have the desired effect?

Returning to the exampleWarrior Two , we often strive for the knee to be on the extension of the second toe, while for many people it will be better to gently twist the foot outwards so that the knee will be in line with the big toe. Contrary to popular belief, there is no perfect asana.

Even if you accept a given asana in a very book-based manner, this does not mean that it will be right for you. Look around among asana practitioners during classes. Even those whose positions look at least strange benefit the incredible benefits of yoga.


This asana does not have alignment, only individual students

It is very important to share the experience and accept the already worked out tips from other practitioners, while the most important thing is to build your own concept of yoga on this foundation. To this end, it is worth supporting the intuitive feeling of asanas.

When Iyengar was giving corrections, he focused primarily on the internal sensations flowing from the body and actually noticed how the body positioned itself, not where it should go. In practice, asana should not imitate a specific shape taken from a book. We obtain this shape by alignment that comes from within. Instead of trying to place the body in a perfectly aesthetic figure, it’s worth asking where and how the energy flows. Accuracy of asana is important, but accuracy is more important.

Real alignement is not a mechanical setting, it looks the same every time. It’s good to know axioms, but everything is determined by the moment and intuitiveness of the body. Tips developed by someone else can be very precise and detailed, but may not apply to the body you are working on. Such basic things as proper positioning of the legs, turns, hips, and arrangement of the spine is a matrix, but this is not all. Practice should be based on a safe search for an individual arrangement.

We must remember to be careful when instructing students. What we have learned from our teachers is important, but excessive focus on it and imitation limits freedom of movement. This lightness supports the body’s internal intuition.


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