Modifications in Our Practice


Giving up on something we think about everyday is a sure-fire way to not get closer to our goals.

Physically, yoga is good for the body. Mentally, yoga is good for the mind. Spiritually, yoga is good for the soul. Practicing yoga daily is good for the entire being. Yoga, in this sense, is not just the physical aspects but also the mental clarity and spirituality that is provided along with the physical. Physically, when a pose is challenging, the yogi searches mentally for a way to practice acceptance in the pose and to make the pose more available to them. A good instructor will listen to the challenges presented in the physical practice and offer modifications. Modifications do not mean “make easier”, instead, modifications are the understanding that not every yogi is 5′ 7″, narrow, and flexible. Modifications help yogis deepen the pose, as when a yoga strap is introduced to enable a deeper¬†Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold). The yoga block lengthens arms when bending sideways into Trikonasana (triangle pose).

While these modifications, the physical ones, are obvious because they can be seen and are tangible; it is the mental modifications that make the greatest changes in the yogi’s practice. The modifications start slowly at first for a new practitioner and may take the form of an inner dialogue, “Wow, this is tough. Wait, is that twisting? or bending? Oh! I feel that, I get it. Is this how I’m supposed to look?” and after a while, that inner dialogue quiets down and another arises, “Oooh yeah! We’re practicing trikonasana! My hamstrings have been so tight! I can’t wait to get into paschimottanasana tonight!” until, the thoughts quiet altogether and the mind focuses, “Moving, flowing, breathing. Moving, flowing, breathing.” Of course, the occasional, “Wait! What? Oh. Moving, flowing, breathing.” And there it is. While it may, or may not have been a conscious modification, the mind suddenly acknowledges that the time on the yoga mat is for the yogi. It isn’t the time to think about that big work project, or the grade your kid got on that report, or even about the upcoming dinner party. It is simply time for the yogi to be present, with the breath, moving, flowing, breathing in their body. I hope you make every practice of yoga, both on and off the mat, a practice of modifications.


About yogagirlsherri

I am a 200-HR RYT certified yoga instructor. I teach vinyasa primarily but also teach seniors, yoga nidra, restorative, pranayama and meditation. I have a passion for life, all things yoga and dogs. Drop me a questions, line, comment - I'll be happy to hear from you! Namaste View all posts by yogagirlsherri

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