two blocks from Allyson’s house. Since I can get a $25
one-time pass for unlimited classes, it seems like a
good opportunity to go to yoga while I am waiting for the
baby to arrive. I have gone three days in a row.
Boy, have I lucked out!
Each day has been a different teacher, each of them excellent. What I have especially appreciated are the adjustments. For all you non-yogis, an “adjustment” means that, during the class, the teacher comes around and uses his or her hands/body to encourage the student’s body to go to the “edge.” This means to experience the pose as deeply as possible in that moment. The student can assist and enhance the adjustment by using his or her breath. A deep inhalation creates space, a deep exhalation allows the body to release and relax so as to move in the desired way during the adjustment.
There is art and science to adjustment, both equally important. The science is the knowledge of human anatomy. The application of that knowledge or lack thereof, is the art of adjustment.
This is where the whole thing gets a little trickier...
Now, you should know that not all teachers offer adjustments and not all students want adjustments. Sadly, some teachers don’t have the necessary knowledge or skill to safely apply adjustments and others can be aggressive; students can get injured. Therefore while I consider adjustments an added bonus, they are welcomed with caution until I get a feel for the teacher’s abilities.
I can happily say this: oh man, have I been to the edge!
The adjustments have been amazing. With each adjustment, I have experienced these incredible moments - I have felt my body unfold, open up, become more spacious and yet, more relaxed, while holding, what for me was, a really difficult posture. Of course, I can’t help myself from reflecting on things through the lens of mindfulness and meditation practice. These glimpses of what the body can do with a skilled adjustment, with gentle guidance, makes me think about those same types of glimpses of enlightenment that are possible during meditation. If only I had a skilled teacher to gently bend my mind!
However, during meditation, we are called upon to operate as both teacher and student, both witness and participant.
We are the teacher by witnessing, being aware of, when we appear to be at the “edge.” We use that awareness to make the adjustment - gently bringing the breath to bear on the present moment. As the student, we participate by using the breath to relax the grip, to create space, to help us unfold into the moment even while holding a difficult physical sensation, a difficult emotion, a difficult thought.
Yoga and meditation takes us to our edge and help us to not be afraid to stay there and take a look around. We get a glimpse that enlightenment, being fully present and awake, is truly possible.