10 Tips for Adjusting & Assisting Students
Learning the art of adjusting students takes practice. Working with a number of different body types, mobility and strength levels and practitioner level provides depth of understanding and a keen eye for effective adjusting. The below list certainly is not all-inclusive, however, some things to consider in your teaching. A solid foundation in anatomy and movement mechanics ensures you have informed touch while teaching and should precede all of the tips below.
1. Take inventory foot to crown.
Observe the student’s entire kinetic chain for areas of breakdown or misalignment. Begin correcting from the grounding of the asana, as that will often affect the rest of the body. Changing foot placement, for example may bring the pelvis into the correct position.
2. Let the student settle in the asana.
Allow the student to stop “moving” in the asana, or at least take one full breath cycle before we adjust. Assisting too soon may feel intrusive for the practitioner, but may also cause us to use the wrong adjustment.
3. Identify areas of strain.
If the practitioner is causing undo stress to any part of their body, with knowledge and practice, you can learn to identify it in order to prevent future injury or reduce stress on the body.
4. Mentally correct alignment.
After we visualize the practitioner in good alignment, we can quickly decide where they need help. We can cue corrections in alignment verbally, or physically assist the practitioner to find the proper joint positions.
5. Position self accordingly, enter space.
Before touching a student, we must set our own position correctly to place ourselves at a mechanical advantage in a way that is safe, as the teacher. It is important to remember that you’re entering someone’s personal space when we assist in asana, so we must respect it and treat it with care.
6. Listen to the breath.
We can listen or watch the practitioner to determine where they are in their breath cycle, tune into it and try to match it. Take them deeper on the exhale, or cue the breath.
7. Place hands confidently.
A confident touch reassures the practitioner you are there to help, and you know what you’re doing. Avoid making contact with “questionable” areas on you or the student.
8. Apply appropriate pressure to encourage direction of movement.
It takes practice, knowing the student and an understanding of anatomy to identify physical limits. Using your hands primarily, allows you to control the amount of force in order to avoid injury. Bring direction rather than just force through your hands and your assists will be better received and more effective.
9. Communicate with student verbally if required.
During an intense adjustment, it can help to talk to the practitioner to encourage letting go, or simply reassure them they are ok.
10. Ease off the pressure gradually, not abruptly.
To complete the adjustment, don’t just push off of the practitioner quickly. Use the same technique to exit the space as you did to enter it – slowly, gradually, with respect.