Some people love to get physical adjustments in yoga class, some hate it. I’m from the first camp and I’d like nothing more than to invite those over there to come on over here.
Let me explain why physical adjustments in yoga can be so delightful. First of all, I don’t mind a little help getting into the full expression of a posture. Adjustments (good adjustments) help me improve my alignment and increase my body awareness. And when my minds drifts, adjustments help bring me into the present moment, especially when the yoga teacher synchronizes her breath with mine.
But even more wonderful for me are the emotional aspects of yoga adjustments. You see, I love hands. When I was in college, I fell in love with a guy because of his hands (turns out his heart and brain were pretty sweet, too). And the first time I came home from college, my mom and I held hands as we crossed a parking lot to go grocery shopping together. I equate hands with love.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about hands this summer. In June, while loading up the boats after kayaking, we met a young guy (Andrew) standing near a maintenance truck at the beach. He was bending over his hand wrapped in a t-shirt. He didn’t look good, so I asked him if he was OK. Nope. He’d cut his hand badly with the lawnmower he’d abandoned nearby. I asked him to show me. He did and I’m glad I have a strong stomach. We put him in my car and immediately drove him to the nearest doctor’s office. We stayed with him for about an hour until it was certain that one of his parents was on their way to get him.
Several weeks later, John saw him at an event at UVM. Andrew showed off his bandaged hand, thrilled that it still had all its digits and functionality. A few weeks later, my son Emmett met Andrew at a catering gig they worked together. Andrew was proudly announcing that he no longer needed the bandage and told the story of the kayakers who rescued him. “Hey, those kayakers are my parents!” Emmett interjected into Andrew’s story. Of course they became friends.
I had not seen Andrew myself, but was heartened to know his hand was healing.
Early this morning we swam with the dog at our favorite kayak put-in. As we dried off Dewey and got ready to go to work, a maintenance truck rolled up. It was Andrew. When he realized it was us, he ran over and gave us big hugs. He showed me his deeply scarred, but healed hand; I held it for a moment between my own hands. That touch made me very happy.
At that moment I vowed to hold hands more often – with friends, with loved ones, and if I have the nerve, with strangers. It is such a simple connection, that when applied with thoughtfulness and care has such powerful and beneficial actions. It’s the reason massage works and pregnant women rub their bellies. And it is the reason an adjustment in yoga class can enrich your practice.

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