It's been a while since we've done a Yoga Teacher Talk post and I had received some requests to talk about assists and adjustments so I thought I'd touch on it today with a few basics. In celebration of Mother's Day, which is coming right up, my mom came down to help a sista out, and since she was the one who introduced me to yoga (she took me to Kripalu when I was a teenager), I thought it was a great collaboration. Ok let's do this.
How to Assist Child's Pose
Take a look at the picture above. Child's pose is pretty straightforward. As the instructor, you'll be looking to press on the very low back, just above the hips. Take a wide stance, bend the knees slightly and push straight down as your student exhales. You can also softly take one hand to the base, and then very lightly take the other hand and run it up the spine to encourage the spine to elongate.
How to Adjust Downward Facing Dog
For downward dog, you'll want to have a very strong base, so take a wide stance as shown. Your back foot will be about 45 degrees, and the other foot will point forward. Take the hands to the low back and lean in, using your legs rather than your upper body, to press into the student. We want to encourage the armpits to be really long, and the hips to come up so the body can make an upside down V shape. If the student's legs are really tight, they can bend their knees as shown.
How to Assist Rag Doll Pose
For rag doll, and really any forward fold, we want the student to visualize their hip joints over their ankles. This is likely really weird for them (I mean, how often are we in that position just knowing what it feels like to have the hips stacked over the ankles?) so to help them, take a wide stance, and place the palm at the very base of the spine. Have the student inhale, and on the exhale, press firmly into the base of the spine as you shift the hips gently over the ankles. It's best if the student has a good bend in the knees so they can play with weight distribution as you do this.
How to Adjust Triangle Pose
For triangle pose, the biggest challenge is bringing the student's upper body in line with the lower body. To do this, stabilize the student's back leg by squeezing it between your legs above the knee. Then, very gently, bring one hand to their arm. Hold the arm steady, as you bring the shoulder (as shown) into alignment. Then, you can take that same hand (in this case, my left) to their low ribs and gently guide them so the side body faces up toward the sky and the upper body is in line with the lower body.
Huge shout out to my mama for helping me out with this post! Love you.