Do You Want to Be Touched?


There are verbal adjustments, in which a teacher instructs a student to move an arm or rotate a shoulder. There are “press point” adjustments, where a very light touch is used as a suggestion, like placing a palm so it is barely touching the top of a student’s head to indicate she should elongate her spine.

Then there are the more hands-on adjustments.

Standing behind a student with one leg lunged around one of her legs, he wrapped an arm around her torso and placed a hand between her breast and collarbone. She was in a pose commonly called triangle. “Again, you want to be careful of the spots that you want to stay away from,” Mr. Kest said. Some students in the class laughed.

Later, he demonstrated an unusual adjustment to a student while in the final resting pose. Yogis who have practiced at Center for Yoga in Michigan say this is commonly referred to as the “Diaper Change.”

“It has some intimacy to it,” Mr. Kest said, after having selected a volunteer who said she experienced lower-back discomfort when lying on the floor. This adjustment, he said, is intended to alleviate that. With the student on the floor, he put his knees under her lower back. Her bottom then rested on Mr. Kest’s lap.

“Then you’re going to take her feet, open her legs up and straddle them around you,” he said, as he did just that with the student’s legs. He recommended rubbing the student’s forearms, leaning forward and pressing on the shoulders, placing hands on the belly or the pelvis. “A lot of times, I’ll even rock a little bit just to relax.”

After Mr. Kest had demonstrated this, Catherine Derrow, a yoga teacher and personal trainer from Columbus, Ohio, approached him to ask if he had ever asked permission before doing this adjustment. He encouraged her to bring her question to the group.

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