Words Matter: How to Take the Stigma Out of Yoga Modifications

Updated: Mar 3

By Allison Ray (Schleck) Jeraci



As a yoga teacher and an introductory linguist, I’ve grown to appreciate the language of yoga. I’ve realized how important it is to explain our yoga jargon. Often some of the things we say can be abstract. Sometimes we reiterate yoga phrases that we’ve heard as students without investigating the matter further.


“Open the heart” sounds poetic, but what are you actually asking the student to do? Be kinder and more compassionate or to stretch their chest muscles? In other circumstances, our language can be encouraging and also dismissive. One of the words that is often a suspect in my linguistic investigation is “modification.”


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