Making Use of Modifications
There are days and times in our lives when our bodies are in great shape and we can move easily without much thought or pain. There are other times and days when it feels like your body got hit by a truck and it’s painful to even get out of bed, much less workout and make it through an entire yoga/barre/fitness class. For those times, when your body is having a harder time moving freely, making use of modifications is key for a safe, effective and (hopefully) enjoyable workout.
For some people, maybe who have had previous injuries or have certain conditions there are some types of movements that always need to be modified. For other people who have a minor injury they are recovering from there might be movements they can typically do without much thought that need to be modified/adjusted during their recovery to avoid further injury. Knowing your body and understanding when and how to modify movements is important. Many times your instructor will show/offer modifications for different movements and postures, but even if they don’t, it is always good to listen to your body and do what feels right for you on that particular day.
A modification is generally an action you can take to change the posture from one shape to something different but along the same lines. Examples of common yoga modifications are keeping your knees bent during downward facing dog or forward folds, skipping Chaturanga Dandasana in Sun Salutations, using a block or strap, and dropping down into child’s pose whenever needed. Knowing that these and other modifications are always an option during your practice is important. Listen to your body and don’t wait until your teacher offers the modification, if your body is telling you you need to be doing something different, make use of a modification to protect yourself from injury.
Being pregnant has really taught me the importance and value of modifications. There are some postures and movements that I can’t/shouldn’t do right now such as anything on my stomach, a lot of abdominal work, and closed twists. There are other postures and movements that just don’t really feel that great all the time like upward facing dog or forward folds with my feel together. Doing research, talking to yoga instructors and trying out different modifications has enabled me to continue my practice and stay safe during this time in my life.
Remember that yoga is a personal practice and it’s okay to do something different than what other people in the class are doing to better meet your needs and the needs of your body on any given day (although try not to make it super distracting if you can).
If you have an injury or specific condition you need to modify for, talk to your instructor before class so they can help you and/or do some research – there is a lot of good information out there. Remember, listen to your body, stay safe and make use of modifications when needed.