Correction Connection

Sometimes it’s so hard to take a correction.  You could swear you have perfect form.  That you’ve listened to exactly what the teacher is instructing you to do and are performing that action to perfection.  That your thigh is contracted, the elbow is in the center of the knee, that the hips are pushed forward…until you realize they are not.

A correction could mean a step back.   It could mean you can no longer kick out in Standing Head to Knee because you finally realize that knee is not locked out or even straight.  Or holding onto Triangle Pose seems impossible because when you take that bigger step you can’t hang onto the form as the feet start to slip.  That you need to hold onto that foot in Tree Pose because you are pushing the hips backward instead of forward to achieve both hands in namaskar and no longer feeling that incredible stretch in the knee and hip joint.

But from the teacher’s perspective this is not a step back at all.  You have just taken a huge step forward.  You not only heard the correction, you also understood it.  And most importantly you were open enough to receive it, were able to push the ego out the way and use this new information to align the body.  This correction that you are working on achieving is meant to strengthen you physically and empower you emotionally.

Most students see corrections as fuel and food for their practice.  They crave that next bit of information so they can get better and better.  But sometimes you run into a student that doesn’t want to hear about it.  They are going to do what they want to do regardless of incorrect alignment.  This can be difficult for a teacher, but also a great lesson to them as well.  You have to find a balance of trust with this student and you also have to let go and let them make their mistakes.  This is their journey – let them take it.

The more a person comes to class the more open they become.  When there is more space in the shoulders and hips and the body has increased flexibility the mind can’t help but follow.  An ease in the practice has been achieved and it is now time for that yoga practitioner to hear something new. They are now ready for corrections.

So if you hear a correction, or adjustment, directed your way during class, here are a couple of things to remember:

  1. Stay open.  You received this correction because the teacher believes your body can achieve it.  They would never ask you to do something that would harm you or cause you pain.  This is also why in Bikram Yoga the teacher will never touch you.  We do not want to hurt you by pushing you into a posture, but want you to see yourself in the mirror making the correction to boost esteem and self-assurance in your practice.
  2. Ask questions.  If you don’t understand the correction ask your instructor after class.  Most teachers are obligated to stay after class a half hour to take questions and assist at the front desk.  It’s the perfect time to get some feedback and better understanding of what they were asking you to do.
  3. Know it’s okay NOT to make the adjustment.  If it doesn’t feel right to you in the moment or you are injured in some way and have not shared this with the instructor feel free to let it go.  The teacher is not in your body and you may not be ready for the adjustment they are asking you to make.  No worries – it is down the road waiting for you on your yoga journey.  You will get it and understand it when the mind and the body are ready.  Be patient.
  4. Remember the teacher is on your side.  They are not calling you out or picking on you.  The instructor is just cheering you on to the next step.  They are your support system in the hot room and are there to wish you the best on every step of your journey.

Always know that no matter how you may feel about it, when you grab for better alignment in a posture you are bringing the body into further balance and strengthening your practice.  Even if it feels you took a step back know in your heart with each realization about the correct form of a posture you are taking a huge leap forward to achieving further harmony in the body, mind, and spirit.

Have you ever had a correction that changed your practice?

iyengar-yoga-quote-views-from-the-podium

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Yama Niyama Mama

20 thoughts on “Correction Connection

  1. I went back to Yoga last night after a 3 week hiatus (hamstring injury) and I was a little scared (ok, a lot scared) about what my practice would be like…but the teacher spent about 15 minutes with me before hand talking about modifications and how to expect the injury to heal. It was great – I needed that exact teacher for that first class. I never mind corrections and now I’m learning that I don’t always need the praise either. When I was asked, a few months ago, to go to the 3rd row b/c I was unable to do some of the postures due to my hamstring injury, my ego was crushed. I took it so personally, for about a day 🙂 then I realized why they wanted me there and not in 2nd row – you need it to be strong and I was not that Yogi at that time. But I hope to be that Yogi within in the next few months after my injury heals. Letting go of the ego is a challenge to be sure!

  2. I loved this post. I practice Bikram frequently, and as a student, it is helpful to be reminded you don’t *have* to make an adjustment just because it’s recommended. I always try to listen to corrections, but sometimes I already am stretching/pulling/pushing to my limit. Really nice to hear the teacher’s perspective.

  3. Oh! Always! I especially like the ones that make me the most angry! I expect corrections in half moon, the alignment is simply mind boggling, I expect things like knee, toe, hip, arm level, hand direction in awkward. Kick from the hip in SHK- and 100% of the time my brain pictures a soccer ball flying at me that I need to kick with my hip, so I always end up quickly jerking my hip back even further to hit the ball with force. Those, are nice reminders. The corrections that I’m not expecting are the best though. Like when 4 years into my practice I thought I had a flawless, perfect cobra… Then someone pointed out that it’s not a push-up it’s about back muscles. BAM that was shocking! I could barely get my head off the floor, using only my back muscles. I was mad at first. But those are ones that really change me.

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