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Yoga Adjustments: Philosophy, Principles, and Techniques Paperback – June 3, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Yoga Adjustments:
"Yoga Adjustments shows how to thoughtfully consider adjustments as more than manual manipulation. It's a sensible guide to the best use of verbal cues, hands-on cues, and pose demonstration... Drawing on almost a quarter century of practice, including time spent studying vinyasa, lyengar, and Ashtanga styles, [Stephens] synthesizes hard-earned wisdom within this book." —Yoga Journal
"Mark Stephens has presented us with an invaluable guidebook, not only for the yoga teacher, but for the student as well... Yoga Adjustments is an important addition to everyone's yoga library." —Creations Magazine
"Whether you're in training to be a teacher, just starting your teaching career, or a veteran with many years of experience, Mark Stephens' Yoga Adjustments will prove to be an invaluable resource. As with all his work, this book is written with intelligence, insight, and integrity."
—Richard Rosen, director of teacher training at Piedmont Yoga and author of Original Yoga

"I'm very excited about Mark Stephens' new book, which offers an invaluable service to the yoga community—teachers, aspiring teachers, and yoga students. As yoga's popularity grows, we need our yoga teachers to mature as well, and Mark has given them a superb guidebook for making smart, safe, clear asana adjustments that further our understanding and deepen our experience of yoga. In this way, the benefits of Mark's expertise extend beyond the yoga community by demonstrating how healthy environments can be created in which anybody can practice yoga with confidence."
—Cyndi Lee, founder of NYC’s Om Yoga and author of May I Be Happy and Yoga Body, Buddha Mind
"This book is an important contribution to the ongoing evolution of yoga teaching and practice. Hands-on adjustments provide a quick and amazing two-way communication stream between teacher and student. Used with or without verbal cues, they can bypass most abstract theory and induce good alignment to reveal how a pose might feel when balanced, open, flowing, and free. Conversely, adjustments can be mechanical and even manipulative, seductive, and harmful. Because of this powerful potential in both ways, we all need to look intelligently at their mechanics, purposes, and ethics. Stephens' Yoga Adjustments is a wonderfully detailed resource for our investigation."
—Richard Freeman, director of The Yoga Workshop and author of The Mirror of Yoga

"As someone who is regularly called upon to treat yoga students injured by ill-informed teachers, I can confidently say that Mark Stephens has done our community a wonderful service with his newest work, Yoga Adjustments. Along with Teaching Yoga and Yoga Sequencing, this book forms a trilogy of essential works for every yoga teacher who strives to be more sensitive, safe, and effective in their teaching."
—Leslie Kaminoff, founder of The Breathing Project, NYC, and coauthor of Yoga Anatomy
"Another monumental and much-needed work to guide yoga teachers in making safe and effective hands-on adjustments with their students. Once again Mark Stephens raises the bar and accelerates the evolutionary path of modern yoga. This book is an invaluable reference for today's and future teachers."
—Ganga White, founder and codirector of White Lotus Foundation and author of Yoga Beyond Belief
"Just as a good massage feels great and is healing, and a bad massage can be annoying, even painful and unpleasant, so it goes with hands-on assists in yoga. May this book encourage healing touch! Thank you, Mark, for making this information so accessible and clear!"
—Erich Schiffmann, founder of Freedom Style Yoga and author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
"I love that Mark Stephens has covered not just the biomechanics of hands-on assists and the spectrum from technical support to subtle energetic direction, but also the internal dynamics and ethics that the power of touch brings up in people of all walks of life. Mark offers practical insights, including the many dimensions of respecting a person's process, injuries, and tweaks, and the important boundaries that are necessary for entering this territory that is often like being a 'midwife of the embodied experience.' Mark brings understanding to the somatic power of touch and the role of hands-on assists in the unfolding of yoga. This is a book that will surely be serving teachers for a long time."
—Shiva Rea, founder of Prana Flow®–Energetic Vinyasa and author of Tending the Heart Fire
"We generally think of touch as from one person to another. In this book, Stephens reminds us that we must first be 'in touch' with ourselves and with our own yoga practice before adjusting another person's pose. Overall, the book focuses on practical application of adjustments, based on fundamental elements of an ethical personal practice. On asanas, Stephens states that the teacher should understand 'their benefits, risks, contraindications, preparatory asanas, alignment principals, energetic actions, common challenges, modifications, use of props.' Quite thorough, the step-by-step examples are threaded throughout with groundwork in both Western and yoga philosophy. It is a pleasure to read."  
—Lisa Walford, curriculum director of Yoga Works Teacher Training and senior certified Iyengar Yoga teacher
"Finally, the book I have been waiting for—a clear and thorough guide to hands-on assisting in yoga. Mark Stephens takes us from the guiding principles of touch, observation of students, and establishing intention for touching, through to specific verbal cues and hands-on instruction to support those cues. For teachers, he offers stances to safely ground ourselves while adjusting a student along with terminology for clarifying the various ways of touching for maximum effectiveness. Additionally, Mark provides clear guidance on how not to touch. All of this culminates in a comprehensive index of poses with verbal cues and clear photographs explaining the various options for hands-on assistance to provide greater alignment in the asanas. Never before have we teachers and students had such a concise guide available to us."
—Marion (Mugs) McConnell, founder of South Okanagan Yoga Academy, British Columbia
"A must-read for any yoga teacher looking to expand and deepen not only their knowledge of adjustments, but also of teaching asana as well. The level of detail and knowledge presented here is phenomenal."
—Chris Courtney, yoga teacher and editor-at-large of Elephant Journal

About the Author

The author of the best-selling Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques and Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes, MARK STEPHENS has practiced yoga for twenty-two years and has taught yoga full-time for seventeen years. The founder of Yoga Inside Foundation, L.A. Yoga Center, and Santa Cruz Yoga, Stephens has trained over 1,200 yoga teachers. At Yoga Inside Foundation, he trained and supported yoga teachers in over 300 alternative settings across the U.S. and Canada, receiving Yoga Journal's first Annual Karma Yoga Award in 2000 for this work.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583947701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583947708
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Santa Cruz, California to native California parents, Mark Stephens graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz, completed seven years of post-graduate studies at UCLA, and worked for many years as a community organizer, teacher, and education consultant.

After briefly exploring yoga in his teens, he started a daily yoga practice in 1991 that continues today. He began teaching yoga in 1996. The founder of Yoga Inside Foundation, L.A. Yoga Center and Santa Cruz Yoga, Stephens' writings, interviews, commentaries, quotes and quips have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Yoga Journal, Yoga International, People, Health, Elephant Journal and other online and print media.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tuckerby on June 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Stephens has given the yoga world another excellent resource.

Yoga Adjustments addresses the subject of hands-on instruction, specifically, how to use touch to encourage improved alignment, provide support and guidance, and clarify instructions. As always, Mr Stephens’ approach is student-focused and sensitive. Ask permission before touching. Respect personal boundaries and know that these can change during a session. Teach to the abilities of the person in front of you. Guide the student toward developing awareness and awakening through the asanas.

The scope of the book covers everything from the purposes of touch to where and how (and how not) to touch. Stephens begins with the seven basic principles of hands-on teaching—teaching what you know, asking permission, clear intention, move and breathe with the student, staying safe, teaching the essential asana elements, and supporting stable foundations. From here, he moves on to defining the various responses we hope to elicit, from elongation and activation to stabilization and relaxation. He also is clear about types of touch that can confuse, injure, or cross personal boundaries. His five basic steps to giving hands-on cues and assistance include setting up the asana with a stable base, eliciting elongation and then motion of the spine, followed by refinement and deepening the asana. He outlines nine stances for positioning yourself to maximize stability, comfort, and safety, and nine different hand positions and motions for cueing.

Then the fun begins.

Stephens devotes seven chapters, one for each asana family, to a detailed application of these techniques to 99 asanas, showing specific hand placements for encouraging proper alignment and refinement.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rochelle Kindell Stanley on June 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
As a yoga instructor I find "Yoga Adjustments" insightful, applicable and a beautiful guide into the inner workings of adjustments. Knowing when to verbally cue and when and how to offer support through hands on adjustments is vital as a teacher.
I have found a richer skill set and a greater since of connectivity to my students on the whole by understanding the "when and how to cue my class".
This book offers teachers many tools to assist students in strengthening their "inner teacher" to encourage a deeper since of awareness in one's personal practice, overall creating more space for the students yoga foundation and personal bliss. Teachers following the concepts of "Yoga Adjustments" will assist in creating a sustainable practice for their students through proper, tactile support as well.

This book is a wonderful reminder on how to continue a safe and sacred practice for teachers and students. A personal thank you to Mark Stephens for bringing this body of work forward as the growth and development continue in the wellness field in respect to yoga.

Rochelle Kindell Stanley
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was quite excited to read Mark Stephens’ "Yoga Adjustments: Philosophy, Principles, and Techniques" to learn different techniques for giving tactile cues. The detail and illustrations, which highlight various tactile cues for over 100 asanas, are clear and concise. Along with the extensive details and application, this book draws on, and gives relevance to, the great works of yoga philosophy ("Hatha Yoga Pradipika," "Yoga Sutras of Patanjali", and "Bhagavad Gita") as well as Western Philosophy (Plato, Socrates, William James and others) to give a broad historical overview of thought regarding the body's innate intelligence.

Finally, I found it quite useful that Stephens offered an extensive notes and references section that allows the reader to dive more deeply into the information presented in the book. I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface of the content in Stephens' book and I am sure I will be continuing to go back and uncover deeper layers upon each subsequent reading. I definitely recommend this book for yoga teachers and those interested in Somatic Theory, and anyone interested in exploring the intelligence and connection between the body/mind.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mike on June 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not a yoga teacher, but after 15 years of practice I appreciate that hands-on adjustments are important. Experience has taught me how important it is for my teachers to know how to do adjustments thereby preventing injury and helping me to improve my personal practice. This book is an amazing tool to help me understand in a deeper way the hands onguidance my teachers provide. I think the book will also be a meaningful gift for one of my yoga teachers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Ann on June 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In my experience this is very useful book in guiding the vast array of students that may come to your class. Stephen's does a great job of recognizing the uniqueness of physical and emotional qualities that each student brings to the mat. This book sets up a strong foundation of knowledge and guiding principles that apply to all adjustments, but that you can adapt to each individual need. It offers alignment cues on how to correctly guide students into a pose, then goes on to explore possible adjustments. Stephens offers both images and text to clarify the explanation of adjustments which has proven to be incredibly useful. For each pose he also offers ways to explore deeper or how to modify. As a teacher, I appreciate the realistic, easy to understand feel of this book.

One things I really like about this(and Stephen's previous 2 books) is how he recognizes and talks about the roots of this ancient practice, while making the information relevant to the place where yoga is today.
He builds a strong foundation in philosophy, history, and principles before going into detailed descriptions of set up and adjustment for a huge number of asanas. I like that this book has such strong alignment and structural foundations but also talks about the more subtle, energetic and spiritual side of this practice. Stephens does a good job of reminding us of the strength of each person's inner teacher. As we are adjusting, guiding, and teaching we are helping students find and recognize this inner light.

Great book, would definitely recommend it to anyone on the teaching path!
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