Yoga: Pose Modifications

I’ve been practicing yoga for about two years now, but I don’t talk about it a whole lot. I’ve been following a blogger named Maris Degener.  I first discovered her via a post on CNN about how yoga helped her recover from an eating disorder.  You can check out her blog here.  She writes about many aspects of yoga, but she wrote a great post the other a few months ago about modifying your yoga practice.  Her article is great and covers some wonderful modifications!

I wanted to write one of my own, to talk about some of the modifications I find helpful!  One thing our instructor always reminds us is that it is our yoga practice, and we need to do what feels good in our bodies.  It is also important to remember that every day is different, and what we might have been able to do yesterday may not feel good today.


Sometimes I have trouble holding a runner’s lunge or high lunge due to my plantar fasciitis.  I’ve learned to modify this, even when its not cued.  I also have balance issues from time to time.

  • Kneel down with your back leg
  • If you take the kneeling option, you may want to fold your mat to create extra cushion under your knee.
  • Instead of raising your arms above your head,  rest your hands on your knee, or keep them planted on the ground as if you are in runners lunge.

Warrior Poses

My shoulders can sometimes get fatigued if we hold warrior poses for a long time, then my posture suffers.

  • Put your arms in a prayer to give your shoulders a break
  • Hug yourself by putting your hand on your opposite shoulders

Balancing Poses

I don’t know about you, but I have terrible balance.  Some days are better than others, but overall, its pretty bad!

  • Focus on a point high on the wall, above your classmates’ heads. That way if they get wobbly, it won’t distract you
  • Use the wall for balance (our classroom doubles as a barre classroom, so we have bars to hold onto)
  • Instead of raising your arms, keep them in a prayer
  • For poses like Tree pose, don’t bring your foot all the way up, you can rest it gently on the floor and lower part of your leg instead
  • Tighten your core


Sometimes I’ve had a long day, and I want to rest instead of flow.  But I know the benefits of flowing, so I try to do it as much as possible…but with a few modifications.

  • Flow on your knees.  Instead of down dog, plank, chaturanga, upward dog and back to down dog, try this instead: child’s pose, kneeling plank, kneeling chaturanga, baby cobra, child’s pose.
  • Flow back and forth between just down dog and plank or child’s pose and kneeling plank


Using straps can be a great tool.  They can help guide movement, create a bridge when you just barely can reach, and help develop strength.


I’m quite sure that not all of us are built the same. Some people have long legs, long torsos, or short arms.  I occasionally have trouble reaching all the way to the ground in certain poses, etc. Blocks can help bridge that gap. Blocks can also assist you with getting correct alignment.

Hopefully some of these tips were helpful and can assist you in your yoga practice.

When you practice yoga, what modifications do you make?




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