Helping someone find more ease has always come naturally for me - offer a block, touch a bound muscle to encourage awareness and softness, provide a wall of support when needed.
Using the methods I had been taught up to that point felt forceful as if I was manufacturing the pose for the student, and rarely yielded lasting results.
It dawned on me about 50 hours into my 300/500 training that I needed a more well rounded background in anatomy, an approach outside of the world of yoga. So, on top of 300 additional hours of yoga training, I dove into additional studies in personal training, group exercise, cycling and kinetic mechanics. It may have been overkill, but what came from that headlong (and wallet thinning) dive, and a crazy number of miles on my car bouncing from jobs at studios, gyms and the homes of private clients is my own personalized approach to assessing a client’s anatomy, teaching movement, and offering assistance.
Admittedly I started this process as a rigorous (and naive) search for the ‘best’ method. But as is generally the truth when working with the human body my quest became a continual proving and reproving of one truth - everything is contextual. How frustrating it can be to sit squarely in the middle of gray shades, when so desperately I just want to know what’s best!
One concept in particular has transformed how I train students to awaken muscles, and develop awareness around patterns of compensation, and I find it crosses over exceptionally well in the yoga room.
This ONE technique offers a method that
Efficient and personalized?
So, what is it?
This action wakes the client up to once again feeling the compensation pattern they’ve grown accustomed to using (and ignoring). In response the sleepy muscles are compelled to wake up and activate to resist the force. Unlike many assistance styles that are big, or very forceful, this method of assistance requires very little pressure - just enough to cause the student to become sensationally aware of the mistake.
In the personal training world feeding the mistake would look something like this. A client performing basic squats shifts to the right when they lower. In order to make them aware of this compensation pattern ‘feed the mistake’ I would lasso their hips with a strap and step out to their right side until the strap is taut and as the client lowers I would gently pull the strap more to the right until the student feels the additoinal pressure. To regain stability the client will immediately meet the additional force to avoid feeling of kilter.
In the yoga world the scenario may look like like a client whose front knee is caving in during Warrior 2. To feed the mistake I would apply gentle pressure to the leg just above the knee causing the knee to fall further in, the client then will immediately press their knee back out to avoid collapse. This is the exact opposite of the common yoga adjustment technique of pushing the a student’s joint in correct direction.
While it is not my only method why I am a fan of feeding the mistake? Instead of assuming that the student is engaging the right muscles once I encourage a joint back into place, I can know with more certainty that they have found stability on their own. If the client doesn’t wake up the sleepy muscles then they will continue to collapse into the direction of compensation.
Feeding the mistake requires the client to be in charge of correcting the compensation. They have to overcome the additional force of the assist, like any other form of resistance training. But, the beauty of this technique is that the added pressure is gentle enough that there is very minimal risk of injury in comparison to other more invasive hands-on techniques.
In the end, every teacher will find the techniques that they feel work best, and will make decisions on a case-by-case basis after assessing the needs of each student. My hope is that yoga asana instructors continue to explore opportunities for learning, and that the industry as a whole continues to open up to the methods proposed by our counterparts in the fitness world. Seeking points of convergence with the traditional wisdom of our Yogic path, with the abundance of resources we have access to the physical fitness world ensures that we stay well-rounded, intelligent, and compassionate in our approach.
Body. Mind. Spirit.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 22 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 13 years I have worked as an instructor, a wellness business owner, the Founder of Practice Everywhere, and now I am embarking on a new adventure to expand how we define our Personal and Public Practices.
Since I offer you my experience and perspective, share my writing about life, love and wellness, and offer a bit of unsolicited advice, I think you should also know that I do include affiliate links and promotions in some of blogs. If you make an action (such as sign ups, memberships, or purchases) I might earn a commission. I promise to use this income to support my love of coffee, dogs, yoga, and my family (in no particular order).💜