I was first invited to lead a workshop in 2011 and I respect the labor of love that is running a yoga studio. My commitment is to support your work by teaching safe, fun, exciting and illuminating immersions that bolster your feeling of community and leave students inspired to practice with vigor, precision and self-compassion. I leave students better equipped to both ask and answer questions by practically clarifying an integrated perspective on how to move energy through a person rather than simply do one posture in a vacuum.Below are some popular workshop/seminar/class options to help you envision a visit to your studio.
“Thank you SO much for coming to teach. Really it was so great to have you do the workshop and the classes, both you and Tati. It gave all the students a boost and me too. I love to find teachers where the teaching and method resonates so strongly and feels like we are all evolving. Please come back if you have some free Europe time.”
— Fiona McNamara, owner, Dublin City Yoga
Benjamin here, I’m passionate about effective and safe assisting and adjusting in Yoga and these are the ever-evolving principles that I teach at my trainings. The text below comes from an interview with my friends at One Fire Hot Yoga Festival and I’m posting it here to share with my worldwide LUXYOGA community.
The Ins+Outs Of Adjustments
(An Interview With Benjamin Sears)
Originally Posted on September 24, 2018 by One Fire Fest.
Hey everyone. We got a special treat for you: a 1-on-1 with Benjamin Sears, where he unpacks the themes of adjustments and hands-on assists.
Benjamin, thank you so much for taking the time to explore the theme of adjusting with us. What are the core principles of correct adjusting?
Well, this will represent my take on assisting/adjusting, and I’m going to go with effective rather than correct. As the question is quite broad, I’ll start with conceptual and move to physical using the following core principles: intention, vision, mapping and rising over depth, pressure progressions, pull verses push, breathing.
Why are you adjusting? Be clear and honest with yourself about what drives you to be hands-on. A basic rule of thumb: help the person who needs it most over the person who you can push deeper into some amazing posture. All adjusting (all teaching really) is to help students minimize suffering by empowering them with information they can use, to help turn effort to efficiency. While no teacher has a magic wand, everything from a kind touch (which helps someone right away in a tough moment), to helping someone better know their own coordinates (which helps someone over a longer arc of practice) is about helping people. Think of adjusting as giving someone a compass and showing them how to use it.
See the whole picture from the bottom up. Rarely is the fix found on the upper floors of a posture. See the roots instead of just moving a raised hand or turning a head. Newer teachers tend to first be able to see that one part of the posture may be “off” but don’t trace it back. A more refined eye sees postures as maps to the whole person. It can be useful to see what is working really well – often overworking – in a posture to diagnose what other areas can be better investigated for the student to more fully embody. Think of the posture as territory to explore and help people go where they don’t normally go. Often times students get really good at experiencing one type of intensity and it becomes a non-conscious cover for avoiding another, possibly more revealing experience. A good adjustment may make someone feel off balance, because truly centered is an unfamiliar place to be for almost everyone. To some degree, we all compromise by using what we do well in order to execute postures; the point isn’t to hold the posture, but to learn to orient oneself.
Mapping and rising over depth:
Simply pushing someone deeper into a posture is one of the most basic – like, “omg that is so basic” (in millennial speak) and least helpful type of adjustments. Lying on someone’s back and pushing them into a forward bend doesn’t give a student greater awareness, in fact this type of emphasis typically just makes a student overwork what is already working instead of leading someone into a more balanced utilization of the body across the posture. Instead, look to help students become aware of all the edges, sides and volume of themselves in postures. Adjustments should help someone to rise out of pressure spots and distribute the work across the body. A good barometer of this is vision – most good adjustments will change the line of sight. From a metaphorical perspective, the purpose of Yoga is to help people rise, not to get them deeper into their depths. Helping someone know herself in a more complete way is much more useful than “a deeper stretch”.
This one is simple but very important and applies to verbal and physical adjusting; the more skillful you are, the more pressure you can apply. For example, if you are adept at the next point in this series, (pull verses push) you can safely apply more pressure. I teach my Teacher Trainees to progress from light, essentially energetic adjustments (“move your x till you feel my hand”, “breathe into this area”, or a light brush that implies a direction of action) towards adjustments that require more points of contact that include a stabilizing point, a counter-reference point, and lastly a revolution – if you want all the detail on what those pieces mean you’re going to have to show up at the adjustment workshop at One Fire or come to one of my Trainings!
Pull verses push:
Pushing someone deeper without ensuring clean joint folds is like slamming a door that’s off it’s hinges. The pull here signifies the action that creates joint space to ensure that if you are going to go for depth, the articulation makes sense because you’ve ensured that a joint is in it’s track, so to speak. There are some adjustments that I do that look quite dramatic but the wow moment is always the very last piece.
THAT is thorough. And we love it. Why do you believe assisting and adjusting are important?
A good assist is instructive, providing the student a reference for how to orient herself later, on her own. If a skillful teacher shows you the center of a posture (with words or hands) you have a reference that is not based on your habits (Samskara), but instead on your potential and actual physical geometry. The way to practice postures is not with the cement of muscle memory but with the presence of self-mapping; using one’s circumference to find center. We teachers talk a lot about yoga being therapeutic and yet the human body-mind is such an incredible striver that it will find the shortest route to a posture yet often that route actually facilitates imbalances that already exist. Everybody non-consciously uses what they already have or are good at. It’s just human. A good centering adjustment may make you feel out of balance – we are all a little out of balance or we wouldn’t be coming to yoga! An effective adjustment is a personal revolution – like the mind of the student goes “wow, I didn’t know!”
Additionally, an adjustment has the potential to create a neurological grid of feeling reference for a student by providing a supportive structure. In subsequent applications of not only the same pose but any moment of physicality, the practitioner can calibrate internally based on the feeling experience provided by the scaffold of the adjustment. The awareness revealed through a good adjustment is a neurological turn-on; the lights are on in new parts of the body-mind and now it’s up to the student to stay plugged in and develop her own centering skills, become a teacher for herself.
A neurological turn-on! Booya. How has this helped you in your personal practice?
Good adjustments from my teachers have saved me from wasting time, and taught me much about connection in general. Imagine you are walking in the woods and following your compass North, but your compass is not calibrated, so in fact you’ve been walking for hours only to realize your about twenty degrees off. Imagine those hours in the woods as a couple of years of yoga practice – get it? There are some calibrations that just don’t happen from words alone, but from a feeling reference.
Beyond my own physical practice, learning to assist and adjust has taught me multitudes about being a human, and a man. In life, we constantly traverse each other’s space, and learning how to approach, assist, or leave someone alone if necessary has revealed much to me about myself and humanity in general.
Totally love how deep you’ve gone with this concept. If you could narrow the concept of adjusting/assisting to teachers reading this, what would you say to them?
See the whole picture because we don’t have bodies to do yoga postures, but to have a home for spirit. Learn from someone who gets this…was that two things?
Yeah, but who’s counting.
SACRED GEOMETRY VINYASA, MEDITATION & MOVEMENT
Sacred Geometry Vinyasa
Use your proportions to unlock your potential; an invigorating and complete Vinyasa practice guided by self-mapping techniques that soften the edges between different styles of Yoga with a broader paradigm of self-knowledge. Develop an integrated perspective on how to move energy through yourself rather than simply practice one posture in a vacuum, learn the Sacred Geometry Sun Salutation, and enjoy a sequence that is as sustainable as it is dynamic. For any student with an eye for detail and any teacher who remains a student, this is a practice that will serve you in any other practice you do.
Sacred Geometry Backbending: The Arc of the Future
Learn to use your own proportions to chart a course through every posture on a journey from effort to grace. An intelligent backbending practice rises, ripens, and settles for an enriching buzz of opening the front (your lungs) to the future without waking up the next day still stuck in the past (lower back pain)
Sacred Geometry Hips, Folds & Freedom: Polish the Past
Cobwebs gather in corners! Learn to use your edges to unlock your center, make clean physical folds, and clear out the clutter. The full volume of every posture is an ongoing exploration that requires technique that’s more refined than simply stretching. Up your awareness and make flexibility functional again!
Sacred Geometry Vinyasa Workshop: Archetypes Unlocked
Use your proportions to unlock your potential; learn self-mapping techniques for sustainable and invigorating practice that soften the edges between different styles of Yoga with a broader paradigm of self-knowledge. Develop an integrated perspective on how to move energy through yourself rather than simply do one posture in a vacuum. The world is going binary — it’s up to you to see the whole picture. For any student with an eye for detail and any teacher who remains a student, this is a practice that will serve you in any other practice you do.
Sacred Geometry: Framing Space
Learn you to use the wall as a second mat to up-level your awareness, unlock hard-to-reach spots in your body and find freedom in joint spaces. The power of yoga is the expression of your potential in a hectic world, so join Benjamin to use your edges as a compass on the journey to center. This workshop is a complete practice with inversions, backbends, twists, and folds presented in a unique format to enrich the advanced practitioner/teacher and provide fundamental tools for the beginner.
Movement and Conditioning Class
Focused, interactive, and fun, this practice develops awareness of the spine and body in space. Precise movements are isolated, then playfully integrated to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, and make adults smile like kids.
Mobility and Strength
Focused strength training makes flexibility functional, improves Yoga postures and helps prevent injury. No gimmicks here, this workshop teaches simple ways to develop a balanced, mobile, coordinated, and toned body. Elevate your exercise and hit all the spots.
Handstands & Mobility Level 1
It helps to have a plan. Simple protocols for all levels - make the process joyful and safe, and efficient. Includes functional core, lower body and shoulder mobility drills as well as wrist care. Not to be missed by eager beginners or instructors looking to up their teaching skills.
Progress requires protocols and the joy of gravity surfing is the byproduct of practice, which means more than doing something over and over. Repetition has the potential do both good and harm. This workshop is about establishing patterns that make the time you spend on your hands a good investment.
Raja Yoga For Today’s Yogi
Where the esoteric meets the practical. Integrate a meditation and pranayama practice into your daily life and learn a powerful journaling technique to bring clarity to something you are facing in your life right now. Bring a pen and paper
Sadhana: Breathing & Meditation
Where the esoteric meets the practical. Breath exercises give you the power and a grounded meditation technique cuts distractions. Learn a sequence that will leave you seated at the center of your own world, both at peace and empowered. Walk away with something you can use.
Relax Your Brain
Active relaxation is the ability to soften your nervous system while supporting your structure. Hold space for yourself in with a complete practice that will teach you to wash your cells with positive sense memories. Practice will conclude with deep relaxation and a powerful journaling exercise. Rewrite the now and feel refreshed from the inside. (Bring a pen, paper and a yoga block.)
Focused, interactive, and fun, this class develops awareness of the spine and body in space. Precise movements are isolated and then integrated into a series of games that improve flexibility, strength and coordination and significantly increase happiness.
Teaching is connection and communication is the foundation, whether through words or touch. An interactive discussion of effective, authentic teaching that will leave teachers with action steps to self-regulate their progress.
Up your skills with Yoga Journal Influencer Benjamin Sears.
TRADITIONAL HOT/HATHA/BIKRAM/ 26&2 WORKSHOPS
Bikram Yoga Extended/Master Class
Up your skill to turn effort into grace. Learn how the Bandhas (energetic locks) apply in your Bikram Yoga practice and find peace within the intensity. This is not about hotter, harder and longer, but about empowering you with information. An all levels practice with a master teacher that follows the traditional 26&2 sequence
Hot Higher Education (Intermediate Class)
A unique series born of the therapeutic principles of the beginning class. An invigorating, accessible and slightly cooler roadmap to further exploration of yoga and self through asana and breath, this practice addresses the diagnoses I have made over 8 years of worldwide seminars in the Bikram Yoga Community with regard to the most common needs of Bikram practitioners. In other words, concepts and balance are primary and poses remain the tools to those ends. This is a complete class for all practitioners rather than merely advanced with some hard stuff removed. You can call it Intermediate class if you must.
Inner Mirror: Bikram Yoga Workshop (condensed)
A complete practice in moderate heat.
Optimize the healing power of the 26&2 through augmentative exercises that provide practical feeling-references that up your skill. There is no substitute for how good it can feel when you see beyond the front mirror into your neurology and use your inner mirror to guide your exploration of the postures. Learn a profoundly simple 4-pillar system to support your ongoing growth through sustainable Hot Yoga practice. This workshop is a complete practice that will deepen your understanding and give you a nice yoga buzz.
10-11:30: Fundamentals & Philosophy
12:00 - 2:00 Bikram Class & Questions
(example times are to show duration)
Inner Mirror: Bikram Yoga Seminar (original: 8 hours)
The Seminar begins with detail and laughter, continues with practice and application, and culminates with reflection and integration. Empower yourself with a simple yet profound 4-pillar system to guide your exploration of the practice long after the workshop has concluded.
Optimize the healing power of the 26&2 through augmentative exercises that provide practical feeling-references that up your skill. There is no substitute for how good it can feel when you see beyond the front mirror into your neurology and use your inner mirror to guide your exploration of the postures. This workshop is a complete practice that will deepen your understanding and give you a nice yoga buzz.
10-12: Fundamentals & Philosophy
12:30 - 2:30 Bikram Class
3 - 5 - Interactive Workshop