Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting: an insightful guide for Yoga Teachers and Students

Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting: An Insightful Guide for Yoga Teachers and Students By Stephanie Pappas (2006) ISBN 978-1412051620

For teachers and students alike

It is a common practice in Yoga classes to have an instructor assist students by performing adjustments, but the challenge lies in knowing how to adjust properly.  Whether you are a new instructor or experienced, Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting will help you in becoming a more confident teacher and add to the quality of your student’s training.  If you are a student, or practice your Yoga at home as I do – this book will give you a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind Yoga postures and what you should expect from a qualified teacher.

One of the best points about this book by Stephanie Pappas is the various options given on how to assist students in the postures as well as verbal cues instructors might use to help with breathing or self-adjustment.  In the Western World of standoffishness and personal space – we often hear that it is improper to physically adjust students in class, but as a student and long time practitioner of Qi Gong and Kung Fu, I believe the sharing of positive energy, compassion and caring through physical touch only enriches your practice.  Of course, instructors should always ask first to avoid making the student feel uncomfortable in any way.

It’s all in the details

Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting provides a detailed guide for teachers to assist students safely, both in terms of the student’s safety and the instructor.  There are over 200 photos illustrating sixty-five of the most common postures practiced in the West, including helpful tips on performing adjustments using body mechanics and leverage.  Hand placements are clear and concise, with analogies to better understand the directions linked to common everyday tasks, such as “opening a jar” to explain a hand assist.  The included glossary of terms insures the language the author uses is understood, and the common questions section provides clear answers on proper hand placement and form.

This book also features a unique thought-provoking section where Stephanie candidly discusses topics which will be of great interest to any instructor or student.  For the instructor, this book provides valuable information on handling competitiveness and nervousness, unusual situations in the classroom and assisting students in dealing with difficult emotions which may arise during or as a result of their practice.  For the student, this section can help in coping with thoughts, judgments, and expectations we place on ourselves either in class or in home practice.

Up…and downside

The downside of this book is that it fails to cover a practical approach to diagnosing problems in student posture and how to correct them, and some of the assists while very creative can be seen as a little too intimate for some.  Yoga purists will also argue that posture is a function of the state of awareness of the student, which certainly has merit – but again I draw on my own experiences – many students see Yoga as only a form of physical exercise, awareness is not something you can ‘teach’ but rather something that naturally develops over time.

The Author

Stephanie Ann Pappas is the founder and director of Devalila Yoga Teacher Training and has been practicing and teaching Yoga and meditation since 1992.  Stephanie is also a registered member of the Yoga Alliance and has certified over one hundred teachers in North America.

Final words and holiday wishes

Though there are many excellent books on Asanas, there are but few so directly dedicated to assisting teachers both new and experienced in improving the quality of their classes.  Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting is definitely one reference book you will use time and time again.  I give it a review rating of:  of  Yin YangYin YangYin YangYin YangYin Yang.

On a personal note – My utmost respect and admiration to those who choose to assist others in enriching their lives through Yoga or any other practice which seeks to bring the mind, body and spirit into harmony. I wish you all the very best in this holiday season…Namaste

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