The Art Of Adjustment

On Thursday, November 19, five teachers met at The Breathing Project for YogaCity NYC’s tenth Deeper Learning Series panel discussion. The panel—which consisted of

Leslie Kaminoff, Eddie Stern, Barbara Verrochi, Nikki Vilella, and Alison West—was moderated by YogaCity NYC’s own Brette Popper.

“Why adjust?” Popper asked Verrochi, launching the evening.

While Verrochi, a longtime Mysore practitioner and teacher, is familiar with using her hands to teach, she also elaborated upon her use of subtler adjustments.

“Sometimes it might be just to support them in the pose, holding their leg up if they're unsteady in a balance,” she said. But it could also be “standing by them if they're doing a headstand if they're afraid. It could be just getting them in their body, grounding them. Maybe telling them to slow their breath down.”

West, whose teaching is heavily infused with Iyengar ideals, thought that the myriad of adjustment possibilities could be used to bring consciousness to any student’s individual needs.

“Adjusting follows the same principles as practicing,” she said. “One doesn't always have to be forceful, but a forceful adjustment can also be the first time somebody realizes their capacity to do something, as long as it's safe and welcomed. To adjust is also to partner with the student in the practice, so it is a beautiful form of joining together with students and developing a relationship at that level.”

Vilella rules the roost at Kula Yoga Project in Williamsburg, a studio that gives a lot of hands-on assists. “I love getting them, I love giving them so I never even questioned learning adjustments and wanting to adjust and have that be part of my teaching,” she said.

And “I’m Italian and this is how we talk,” she added, expressively moving her hands. With adjustments, “you’re speaking with your hands. It’s just another way of conveying the information that you’re already teaching.”