Guruatma K Khalsa

healing from the inside out

yoga modifications – make yourself at home on the floor using pillows, or do Chair Yoga!

| 1 Comment

My name is Ruby aka Livsangat. Several years ago I met Guruatma at Yoga Central in Houston, TX.

Although I live in New Mexico now, I still consider Guruatma THE ‘go-to person’ when I have questions about my personal practice and I have continued to gratefully access her wisdom over the past several years.

Recently, I began teaching Kundalini Yoga after becoming certified in Santa Fe last year, and I noticed that many of my students seem to be uncomfortable in easy pose.

Having them sit on the edge of a pillow helped some, but many knees were still pointing straight up to the heavens and I was concerned about it. Halfway thru the class there were painful expressions and leg’s being released VERY  S-L-O-W-L-Y.

I’m sure I am not the only one who has experienced students with this issue, as it seems to be a common one.

I thought it might be helpful to summarize and share what Guruatma taught me when i asked her about this:

Yoga is a mirror that shows you where you need to open up and where you need support.

Look at the truth of where you’re at and JUST BLESS IT – we start by simply noticing it and allowing it, not reacting to it.

If we can’t relax and open up the lower three chakras, the energy is bound at the lower triangle and can’t rise up the spine.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, if our base isn’t rooted and comfortable, we are not relaxed.

If we see knees up, like how a lot of men sit because they don’t have wide hips like women, the first thing you’ll notice is that there are bent backs, a hunching forward and a kinked neck to raise the head and eyes – now how comfortable is that?

How can the spinal fluid and blood, and the kundalini energy travel up a bent spine, get through the passageway at the back of the neck to rinse the brainstem and flush the brain?

This is not an optimal position to work and stretch from because they are already compensating and can hurt themselves.

Offer support in the form of pillows – tons of pillows, all kinds of pillows.  The star-shaped Padmani Pillows are the best for all kinds of floor adaptations and Guruatma’s students love them!

Work with your student one-on-one, get down on the floor with them, demonstrate yourself and then let them try different pillows and ideas for ways of folding, stacking and tucking them. The whole class will learn from listening and observing, and they may even decide to experiment and try some new ideas to adjust themselves. They will all see that you are committed to their comfort and don’t want them to injure themselves.

Start by raising the buttocks on different kinds (shapes, heights, thickness) of pillows. Many people fold a thin, soft-foam pillow in half ,like a “V”and wedge the open ends at the base of their spine.

Then, support the knees. Pillows can be stacked, or folded and tucked under the knees so that the knees can completely relax down on them – holding and discomfort is not an option.

If the knees are up, the pelvic floor is not in alignment – that’s not comfy.

If need be, the student can sit up against a wall with pillows behind and under them.

Or, the legs can be let out straight with the back up against a wall and the buttocks raised. If this is still uncomfortable and the spine is not straight, suggest a chair.

They can go from wall to chair, to the wall, to the floor.

No judgement & no comparing.

Encourage your students to start by accepting where they’re at and to lend support where it’s called for.  Otherwise, we set ourselves up for having to work through fresh consequences.

Guruatma told me that her Chair Yoga Classes were born out of her own personal investigation, experimenting to get herself comfortable in yoga class.

Ruby Renshaw

Guruatma serves as a mentor for those who suffer from chronic or critical illness, as well as their family members. To inquire about or schedule a one-on-one session, click here:

“Like” us on Facebook:



One Comment

  1. This is excellent advice.
    I always notice in teaching whose legs are up and ask gently if they would like a pillow or blanket or to roll their mat up and they will be lengthening the spine without pain or discomfort.
    I am now teaching a gentle yoga class and students need bolsters, pillows,etc to fully relax and allow the stretch to happen easily and slowly.
    Sat Nam,
    Siri Kirin

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.