a few weekends ago, i had the privilege of attending an assisting workshop put on by one of the fellow teachers at the solebury club where i teach. karin eisen, the teacher who ran the workshop, offers awesome assists -- so, needless to say, me and several other fellow yogis were anxious to learn her tips and techniques so we could begin to offer more and better assists and adjustments to our students. working hands-on with students requires a great deal of trust, since you're entering their personal space, but it also requires a bit of confidence on the part of the teacher. if you're not confident in your "assisting" skills -- you'll likely offer ineffective adjustments that fall flat (no pun intended). if you tend to follow a more hands-off approach, but would like to venture into offering more assists, here are a few tips (courtesy of karin).
1. start slow -- if you're uncomfortable offering more complex assists (like for handstand or 1/2 moon), start slow. stick to child's pose and down dog. once you get comfortable assisting your students in these basic postures, then you can branch out.
2. ask permission -- especially with new students, ask their permission before you touch them. asking permission gives you the go-ahead you may need to feel more confident. (once you develop a relationship with your regular students, this may become unnecessary.)
3. ask for feedback -- as you guide them deeper into the posture ask for feedback to ensure you're not pushing them past their point of comfort. tip: stick to questions with "yes" or "no" answers, like "does this feel ok?" or "can you go deeper?". asking "how do you feel?" and getting an answer of "find" doesn't really tell you much...
4. practice -- the more you assist, the more intuitive it will become. to foster this skill, ask a fellow yogi if they're willing to be your guinea pig in exchange for a private lesson. test out your assists, ask them for feedback on pressure, personal space, and the like.