Adi-Yoga and Asana Adjustments
The adjustments that a student makes for herself, perhaps inspired by appropriate and skilled cuing, will always have a deeper and longer-lasting effect. In fact, the effect when a long-time practitioner finally hears and understands a cue that opens a channel in a whole new way usually makes a permanent change. That person will never go back to doing the asana the other way. On the other hand, a physical adjustment often needs to be applied fresh each time – and in the worst-case scenario, a student becomes dependant (mentally, physically, or emotionally) on adjustments in their asana practice.
An underlying principle of Adi-Yoga is that you are perfect exactly as you are. You may not feel this way, but exactly as you are in this moment is the only real option. Your asana is also perfect exactly as it is. If you are engaged to the best of your ability in the physical position, if you are breathing as fully as you can, and if you are applying the awarenesses of Adi-Yoga, then there is nothing more an instructor can add from outside to “improve” this. There is one very detrimental thing that a physical adjustment can create – the sense that something is wrong, absent or missing. This is actually the feeling that we refer to in the Dharma teachings as the anavamala – the root impurity that causes all suffering.
This is just as important for instructors to realize as students – when we have the attitude that we want to “fix” someone’s asana we have made an object out of them and their practice, and bought into the notion that something is wrong with these objects which we, as the expert (or healer, pro, authority, etc.) can remedy.
All this being said, in Adi-Yoga we may very occasionally make use of a minimal touch in order to draw awareness to a body part that is deeply locked up. However, this is a “last resort” technique – I usually only use it with students I have known for some time when verbal and visual cues continue to have no effect. For me this is a carefully considered choice with all of the above weighing in on my decision.
Ultimately, as I observe practitioners engaged in the dynamic path of Hatha Yoga I am reminded of the fact that this practice works. Given a steady and ongoing application of appropriate effort, the results will unfold. My role is simply to give a little instruction and then stay out of the way.