Missing hands-on adjustments in the studio, Victoria Jackson turns to her husband for a little lockdown yoga support
I don’t often use yoga videos for my home practice but I was doing some specific study recently which required me to take 10 hours of pre-recorded classes.
My husband interrupted me part way through one of them and then stood mesmerised watching the screen over my head. The class was an assisted one with the teacher adjusting a student in every pose. My husband had come in just as the teacher was draping herself over the student’s back, leaning her weight on him to move him deeper in Pascimottanasana (seated forward fold). He was so surprised by this he couldn’t quite articulate his response: Is this normal in a yoga class? Would it hurt? And finally, slightly anxiously, does your teacher do that to you?
Well, with social distancing on top of lockdown rules affecting studio openings, it’s been a long time since my teacher was able to offer me any kind of assist. It’s one of the obvious things that we can’t recreate in online sessions. Instead, I’ve been getting a bit creative with self-assists — using my own hands to provide proprioceptive feedback on how my set-up is or to help isolate a particular action in a pose.
All this is helpful and often teaches me something new in a pose, but it doesn’t replace a pair of skillful hands which adapt as my posture changes over a few breath counts.
So where’s the nearest pair of hands? My husband’s of course! I’ve just started teaching him some assists beginning with a few poses where I really enjoy some support. He’s now wonderful in applying a bit of traction in Balasana (child’s pose), which feels so good in my hips, and in providing some stabilising pressure on the sacrum in Uttanasana (standing forward fold), which helps my back relax. He’s also getting good at supporting me in handstand as I work on finding my balance (yep, I’m one of those annoying lockdown handstanders!).
I’d like to return the favour — I’m the qualified teacher after all! But my husband hates assists and much prefers to be left to his own devices. Suits me! Just so long as he’s not so immersed in his own practice he forgets to come over as I settle into Savasana — he does a fantastic adjustment to my head that just melts any neck tension away. Savasana is fast becoming my second favourite lockdown pose — right after handstand.
Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a Vinyasa yoga teacher.