The quintessential guide to yoga assisting and hands-on teaching, Yoga Adjustments introduces the art and practice of providing yoga assists to yoga students. Addressing one of the most important topics in the yoga field, expert yoga instructor and best-selling author Mark Stephens covers the philosophy of yoga practice, the sensibilities of touch in teaching yoga and improving alignment, the seven principles of hands-on yoga teaching, and the twenty-five most effective methods of tactile cueing. An invaluable resource for all yoga teachers, teacher trainers, and serious yoga students, this book includes a foreword by yoga star Shiva Rea as well as over 850 unique instructional photos and explanatory captions demonstrating precise ways of guiding a variety of flowing sequences.
Opening with an in-depth discussion of the philosophy of yoga assisting, Part I--Foundations describes the methods and techniques of giving yoga assistance, with detailed discussions of all of the elements of yoga assisting including communicating with students, qualities of touch, the five basic steps of providing hands-on cues, hands-on positioning and stance.
Part II--Applications demonstrates how to assist students in each of over 100 postures in the seven families of asanas (poses). Each chapter begins with background on an asana family and close consideration of its foundation asana. Each asana is presented in a two-page spread with photos that show how to give students effective guidance and support. Part III--Evolution offers thoughts on the further development of yoga in the twenty-first century.
About Mark Stephens
Mark Stephens took his first formal yoga classes in 1991, completed his initial yoga teacher training in 1995, and began teaching yoga in 1996. In 1997, he founded Yoga Inside Foundation, establishing yoga programs and training yoga teachers for service in over 300 treatment centers, schools, hospitals, prisons, and other settings across North America. He received Yoga Journal's first Annual Karma Yoga Award for his nonprofit work in 2000. Stephens has founded and directed two yoga studios, L.A. Yoga Center and Santa Cruz Yoga, and has taught workshops and retreats worldwide, including outdoor adventure retreats combined with sea kayaking, trekking, skiing, and rock climbing. He returned to his native Santa Cruz in 2004, where he teaches classes, workshops, and teacher trainings at Santa Cruz Yoga.
Praise for Yoga Adjustments:
“Whether you’re in training to be a teacher, just starting your teaching career, or a veteran with many years of experience, Mark Stephens’ Yoga Adjustments will prove to be an invaluable resource. As with all his work, this book is written with intelligence, insight, and integrity.”
—Richard Rosen, director of teacher training at Piedmont Yoga and author of Original Yoga
“I’m very excited about Mark Stephens’ new book, which offers an invaluable service to the yoga community—teachers, aspiring teachers, and yoga students. As yoga’s popularity grows, we need our yoga teachers to mature as well, and Mark has given them a superb guidebook for making smart, safe, clear asana adjustments that further our understanding and deepen our experience of yoga. In this way, the benefits of Mark’s expertise extend beyond the yoga community by demonstrating how healthy environments can be created in which anybody can practice yoga with confidence.”
—Cyndi Lee, founder of NYC’s Om Yoga and author of May I Be Happy and Yoga Body, Buddha Mind
“This book is an important contribution to the ongoing evolution of yoga teaching and practice. Hands-on adjustments provide a quick and amazing two-way communication stream between teacher and student. Used with or without verbal cues, they can bypass most abstract theory and induce good alignment to reveal how a pose might feel when balanced, open, flowing, and free. Conversely, adjustments can be mechanical and even manipulative, seductive, and harmful. Because of this powerful potential in both ways, we all need to look intelligently at their mechanics, purposes, and ethics. Stephens’ Yoga Adjustments is a wonderfully detailed resource for our investigation.”
—Richard Freeman, director of The Yoga Workshop and author of The Mirror of Yoga
“As someone who is regularly called upon to treat yoga students injured by ill-informed teachers, I can confidently say that Mark Stephens has done our community a wonderful service with his newest work, Yoga Adjustments. Along with Teaching Yoga and Yoga Sequencing, this book forms a trilogy of essential works for every yoga teacher who strives to be more sensitive, safe, and effective in their teaching.”
—Leslie Kaminoff, founder of The Breathing Project, NYC, and coauthor of Yoga Anatomy
“Another monumental and much-needed work to guide yoga teachers in making safe and effective hands-on adjustments with their students. Once again Mark Stephens raises the bar and accelerates the evolutionary path of modern yoga. This book is an invaluable reference for today's and future teachers.”
—Ganga White, founder and codirector of White Lotus Foundation and author of Yoga Beyond Belief
“Just as a good massage feels great and is healing, and a bad massage can be annoying, even painful and unpleasant, so it goes with hands-on assists in yoga. May this book encourage healing touch! Thank you, Mark, for making this information so accessible and clear!”
—Erich Schiffmann, founder of Freedom Style Yoga and author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
“I love that Mark Stephens has covered not just the biomechanics of hands-on assists and the spectrum from technical support to subtle energetic direction, but also the internal dynamics and ethics that the power of touch brings up in people of all walks of life. Mark offers practical insights, including the many dimensions of respecting a person’s process, injuries, and tweaks, and the important boundaries that are necessary for entering this territory that is often like being a ‘midwife of the embodied experience.’ Mark brings understanding to the somatic power of touch and the role of hands-on assists in the unfolding of yoga. This is a book that will surely be serving teachers for a long time.”
—Shiva Rea, founder of Prana Flow®–Energetic Vinyasa and author of Tending the Heart Fire
“We generally think of touch as from one person to another. In this book, Stephens reminds us that we must first be ‘in touch’ with ourselves and with our own yoga practice before adjusting another person's pose. Overall, the book focuses on practical application of adjustments, based on fundamental elements of an ethical personal practice. On asanas, Stephens states that the teacher should understand ‘their benefits, risks, contraindications, preparatory asanas, alignment principals, energetic actions, common challenges, modifications, use of props.’ Quite thorough, the step-by-step examples are threaded throughout with groundwork in both Western and yoga philosophy. It is a pleasure to read.”
—Lisa Walford, curriculum director of Yoga Works Teacher Training and senior certified Iyengar Yoga teacher
“Finally, the book I have been waiting for—a clear and thorough guide to hands-on assisting in yoga. Mark Stephens takes us from the guiding principles of touch, observation of students, and establishing intention for touching, through to specific verbal cues and hands-on instruction to support those cues. For teachers, he offers stances to safely ground ourselves while adjusting a student along with terminology for clarifying the various ways of touching for maximum effectiveness. Additionally, Mark provides clear guidance on how not to touch. All of this culminates in a comprehensive index of poses with verbal cues and clear photographs explaining the various options for hands-on assistance to provide greater alignment in the asanas. Never before have we teachers and students had such a concise guide available to us.”
—Marion (Mugs) McConnell, founder of South Okanagan Yoga Academy, British Columbia
“A must-read for any yoga teacher looking to expand and deepen not only their knowledge of adjustments, but also of teaching asana as well. The level of detail and knowledge presented here is phenomenal.”
—Chris Courtney, yoga teacher and editor-at-large of Elephant Journal