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How to Modify 5 Common Power Yoga Poses

Bianca Williams
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Listening to your body and knowing when to modify a poses is crucial for a long lasting, healthy and fruitful yoga practice. If you don’t modify you could hurt yourself.

 
As a power yoga instructor, I’ve noticed students who will throw their bodies into poses with all their might, pushing themselves into a place of discomfort or dis-ease. In a studio environment, many students may be seemingly ashamed, embarrassed or simply refuse to modify (or make necessary changes), in order to keep up with the other students in the room.
 
As teachers, we see the drive and determination in you and we love that, we cherish that and want that to thrive. However, we also want you to enjoy all of the benefits that each pose and vinyasa brings, which is why we sometimes suggest modified poses for our students.
 
With modifications, your muscles and alignment will build faster and correctly. In other words, your asanas will improve with the proper alignment and resulting increased strength. Plus, you’ll transition out of these modifications in no time!
 
In this article we will look at 5 common yoga poses you can easily modify:
 
 

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

tree-pose
 
Modification: Rotate the hip out and bring your foot to the inner ankle like a kickstand to help you balance.
 
Proper positioning of the body will help develop the inner muscles needed for balance.
 
 

Revolved Lunge (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)

TwistingLunge
 
Modification: Drop your back knee to the mat to help maintain proper alignment.
 
modifiedlungetwist
 
Bringing the back knee to the floor will work on building strength and flexibility in your abs, glutes, legs and arms. As your strength builds you can begin to straighten the back knee.
 

 

Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)

Handtobigtoe
 
Modification: Come back to the starting position of bent knee with peace sign fingers grasping the big toe.
 
Balance poses are all about building blocks. Keep the abs engaged, eyes focused, and hips balanced to receive the same benefits in modified form.
 
 

Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)

Headstand-(1)
 
Modification: Dolphin pose
 
modifiedheadstand
 
Stack the hips, shoulders and elbows to strengthen abs, arms and legs, all of which are necessary to transition into a headstand.
 
 

Side Plank (Vasisthasana)

Sideplank
 
Modification: Bring the knee of the bottom leg to the floor/kickstand your inner leg.
 
ModifiedPlank
 
Keeping the hips lifted, abs engaged, and arms strong will leave the inner-fire burning and your body sweating.
 
 
The suggestions made above are not an extensive list of modifications; there are a variety of ways to modify any yoga pose simply by listening to your body. Bottom line: take cues from instructors on modifying! Or, bring in your own modifications. Don’t worry about those yogis around you. Just do you and you can’t lose!
 
How do you feel when asked to modify a pose? Do you have any personal modifications you love? If so, leave a comment below!
 

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Bianca Williams

Bianca is a foreign language teacher, yoga instructor and international solo traveler. With 10+ years of personal yoga practice across 20+ countries, Bianca creates magical experiences to share with her students all over the world. When she isn’t teaching yoga or languages, you can find her everywhere - from playing capoeira in NOLA to trekking through the Amazon. Check her out at yogawithbianca.net

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