Sunday, August 28, 2011


As both a Yogi and Yoga instructor I know how difficult it can be to opt for a modification. For some of us (me too) we don't want to appear weak, accept that we have limitations or admit that our body may have some areas where improvement is necessary; this way of thinking can in fact lead to weakness, injury and setback. I have at times pushed myself beyond my own limits and later suffered the consequences. While teaching I have tried to support and encourage students to take modifications when I see they could benefit from them and seen the struggle of these students who want to push further but just aren't ready yet. If we change our thinking when it comes to modifying we can set our selves up to reach new depths in our practice, create more strength in ourselves and break through barriers. Let's look into it...
I like Merriam-Webster's 3rd definition: To make basic or fundamental changes; to give a new orientation to; to serve a new end.
Often people will associate the modification with the words "I can't", "too hard", "inflexible", "not strong enough", "unbalanced" and all these words are negative so no wonder nobody wants to modify. If we change those word associations to more positive ones modifying can be a choice we make more happily and willingly. A modification is a way to build a strong pose from it's foundation and allow it to grow over time into a confident, competent and graceful asana.
Our minds assert a lot of control over our body - consciously and unconsciously - if we knowingly push ourselves into our asana practice too far too fast we set ourselves up for failure. It may lead to pushing yourself harder the next time or it may lead to giving up completely, either way when we can't do all that we set out to do, we judge ourselves harshly and cruelly.
Next time you come to your mat, while setting an intention during those first few moments of class include "permission to modify". Remind yourself that modifications create a strong foundation that will set you up for success and take you further in your practice. Rather than pushing too hard in each pose, enjoy where your body has taken you and express gratitude for that ability - you may find that once you have accepted where you are today mentally and physically a door will be opened and you can walk right through - the only thing holding you back is your thinking.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the reminder. I see that a great deal in my classes as well. I try to offer the modifications "in no particular order" to see if it helps. I need to remember it myself though in my own practice too!