In a yoga class we know that the teacher will most likely offer hands-on assists. I always ask my students ahead of time for consent before assisting them because their answer might change day-to-day depending on how they’re feeling or what’s going on. I will never give assists if I’m feeling under the weather. Something important to note: if you decide half-way through the class you don’t want hands-on assists anymore just let the teacher know. It’s your practice and you have to feel comfortable.
The biggest thing I want students to know is that if a teacher comes around and gives you an assist it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong. While yoga instructors do come around and help students properly get into a pose for safety purposes, we also want you to find an even deeper expression of the posture (I like to come around and give mini massages to help students relax more).
I wanted to share a few tips on how to give yourself a few assists to help you get that deep stretch! These are great to try if you practice yoga at home or go to a studio and aren’t getting hands-on assists from the instructor.
Supine Twist: You may hear the instructor cue both arms out wide, but I like to use one of my hands to encourage my knee closer towards the mat (or a block). Continue pressing your shoulders into the mat while pressing your knee down. Turn your head to the opposite direction for the added neck stretch!
Butterfly or Baddha Konasana: This pose (as any) will look different in everyone’s bodies. Some may be able to fold forward while others can simply tilt their head. This is a great hip opening pose (sometimes I put a block under each knee for added support). Today, I wanted to show you a way you can deepen this hip opening. Place your hands on your ankles and use your elbows to send your knees closer to the mat.
Supine Figure Four or Supine Pigeon: This is all about stretching your quads and hamstrings. For a hip opening and IT Band stretch, place one hand behind your knee to bring your knee closer to you. Place the older hand on your crossed knee to push it away from you.
Downward Facing Dog: When you get to your downward facing dog, peddle out your legs and use your breath here to assist you. On your inhale lift your hips high and on your exhale drop your heels down (it’s okay if they don’t touch your mat).