Blog Writer: Chanel Mazzone
Blog Editor: Kristen Kennedy Smith
SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.
Our bodies are a beautiful mosaic of differences. Curves, scars, muscles, and different sizes all make us who we are - radiant beings! It would be absolutely wild to assume that there would be “one pose fits all,” if you will. That’s where modifications come in!
For each pose, or asana, there are a variety of ways to adapt each post to fit your goals, your body type, or how you are feeling that day. Yoga blocks and straps (which can be substituted for pillows and books or leggings) aid us in our practice. They help soften, lengthen, and deepen our flows.
Modifications enable us to let our body feel what it needs to feel. As a bonus, modifications allow our practice to be inclusive and socially just. We aren’t holding any assumptions about what pose would feel like for a body. We are holding space for folks to create a pose that works for their body type and how their body is feeling.
Modified yoga allows you to come into class however you are feeling - whether that be tired and sore or invigorated and ready. Modifying a yoga practice allows you to come to class even if you are injured. Our instructors find a way to help modify almost every post. At Affirmations and Innovations, our yoga students are powerlifters, runners, hikers, strength athletes, dancers, etc. Often, they are coming into class sore from other physical activity. Modified yoga also aids in this recovery - giving you time to get into the pose that feels best in your body.
In my classes, I try and encourage “creative playtime.” Folks can follow along with me, or they can give their bodies what they need. When we are in tabletop position, that means students can follow me through a cat-cow flow, or they can arch their back from side to side, maybe try out a wide-legged child’s pose, or do some neck rolls. In my class, I try and break away from saying one pose is more challenging than the other because this term feels un-inclusive. Each pose is just a different way of feeling the practice. When we do more traditionally advanced poses, we are challenging our bodies to build strength rather than forcing our bodies into a pose that is uncomfortable. Modifications allow us to build strength in a comfortable and safe way. Blocks and yoga straps are ways to work with our bodies.
On my yoga teaching journey, I have found that there are so many different versions and ways to practice each pose. I am always learning new ways and challenge myself to provide a variety of ways to practice each pose.
Whenever you come to your mat, know that you are home. Your mat is a safe space to honor your body and carry that practice throughout your life. Modifications are wonderful ways in which we can honor and respect the beautiful and strong bodies we all have!
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