Yoga Adjustments: Philosophy, Principles, and Techniques
The main idea in Yoga Adjustments is that yoga teachers can best guide their students when informed about the nuances of yoga and the unique qualities of the students in their classes, thus teaching in a way that ensures that yoga practices are safe, sustainable and thereby more deeply transformational.
The book is divided into three parts:
Part I – Foundations, begins with an in-depth discussion of philosophy and sensibility in yoga assisting, focusing on the essential elements of doing yoga and how yoga teachers can best guide students in exploring their practices in keeping with these elements. This discussion includes a close examination of touch and somatics in helping students awaken to clearer awareness on and off their yoga mats as well as consideration of ethics in teacher-student relationships and how to best support students in discovering and honoring their inner teacher.
Part I continues by looking closely at the seven principles of hands-on teaching, offering clear examples of how each principle can be applied in practice. This leads to a comprehensive presentation of the methods and techniques of giving yoga assistance, with highly detailed discussions of all of the elements of yoga assisting, including communicating with students, qualities of touch, the five basic steps in giving hands-on cues, hands-on positioning and stance, and guiding students with special conditions.
Part II – Applications, is comprised of seven chapters giving detailed guidance on how to assist students in each of over 100 postures in the seven families of asanas. Each chapter begins with background on an asana family and close consideration of its foundational asana. Each additional asana is presented in two-page spread with instructional photographs showing precisely how to give students effective guidance and support.
Part III – Evolution, offers thoughts on the further development of yoga in the 21st century. The central theme of this chapter is that yoga is part of the evolutionary process and that yoga teachers and students can volitionally participate in the further creative evolution of yoga by showing up consciously in teaching and sharing this practice that has ancient roots in multiple traditions of physical, meliorative, and spiritual cultures.
Whether you’re in training to be a teacher, just starting your teaching career, or a veteran of many years 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, Piedmont Yoga, author, Original Yoga
I’m very excited about Mark Stephens new book, Yoga Adjustments: Philosophy, Principles and Techniques, 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 extends beyond the yoga community by demonstrating how healthy environments can be created in which any body can practice yoga with confidence.
–Cyndi Lee, founder, NYC’s Om Yoga, author, May I be Happy and Yoga Body, Buddha Mind
Mark Stephens’ Yoga Adjustments 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 queues, 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, The Yoga Workshop, author, The Mirror of Yoga
As someone who is regularly called on 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, Mark has created a trilogy of essential works for every yoga teacher who strives to be more sensitive, safe and effective in their teaching.
–Leslie Kaminoff, founder, The Breathing Project, NYC, co-author, Yoga Anatomy
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 yoga pose hands-on assists. May this book encourage healing touch! Thank you, Mark, for making this information so accessible and clear!
–Erich Schiffmann, founder, Freedom Style Yoga, author, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
I love that Mark Stephens has covered not just the bio-mechanics 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, Prana Flow®–Energetic Vinyasa, author, Tending the Heart Fire
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 moves 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 co-director, White Lotus Foundation, author, Yoga Beyond Belief: Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice
We generally think of touch as from one person to another. In this book, Stephens reminds us 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, he 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, Yoga Works Teacher Training, and Senior certified Iyengar Yoga teacher