Physical Adjustments in Yoga Class

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Some of us have been in a yoga class and received physical adjustment and felt good. Some of us have been in the same situation and it felt bad. It seems like the same adjustment can bring different results. Why does the touch feel different? Is there different kind of touch?

Photo by Mark Stephens

Before going into the various types of touch, let’s remember that the purpose of any adjustment, is to bring students into awareness of their own alignment, to come into the pose that suits their body, not into a “perfect posture”. The moment that physical adjustment is conducted, the teacher’s energy comes together with the student’s energy. This is an intimate moment, so make sure you agree for it.

It is important to express your feeling during the class. A yoga class is a safe space where your needs are respected. Please say it to your teacher if you don’t want to receive adjustments. Saying no to physical adjustment does not mean that you are a worse student or that you don’t go deeper into your poses.

In the context of an asana class, the touch can be divided in nine different categories:


1. Investigative Touch

This is a touch to check your muscle activation. For example a pat on your quadriceps to make sure you engage it during Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

2. Directive Touch

This touch guides the particular part of a body to move to a direction. For example is guiding the shoulders to be open, and to open the chest during Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

3. Adjusting Touch

This is a touch that is firm and a complete contact to student’s body to to adjust the pose. For example, rotating student’s upper arm externally in Extended Side Angle

4. Alerting Touch

This touch is to alert student of a particular part of their body. For example touching the fingers in High Mountain to engage the finger tips.

5. Loving Touch

This is for example a pat on the back, which is supportive to give encouragement to student after a challenge.

6. Stabilizing Touch

This touch aims to stabilize student’s body in poses that need balance. For example a firm hand on top of the upper hip in Three Legged Dog.  This touch would need to use the whole hand and typically is a firm touch.

7. Invasive Touch

This is improper and unethical touch that purposely touch sexual part of the body, or other sensitive parts such the groins, belly, buttocks, throat, or face.

8. Random Touch

This is a random touch to random part of the body with no intention of adjusting. This touch is unnecessary and can create confusion.

9. Sensual Touch

This is a touch that meant to be sensual with no intention to improve the posture. Very improper, unnecessary and inappropriate.

We are all different creatures. Some of us have no problems in touching and being touched, and some of us really feel discomfort in being touched or to touch. Make sure you communicate your feelings in your yoga class, and you can get more benefits of the class, feeling safe and secured.

Shades of Yoga Yoga Teacher Training School

Shades of Yoga is a RYT 200 and 300 internationally recognised (Yoga Alliance) yoga teacher training company running year-round yoga teacher training courses in Bali and Costa Rica.


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