Asana Adjustments :

 The double edged sword of power and bondage (Rnanubandha)

Asana Adjustments are a double edged sword. Certain asana systems like the Ashtanga Vinyasa system propagated by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois are known for very heavily involved adjustments, often with the teacher lying down on the student to enable the student to get into a complicated asana, which the student otherwise will not be able to do. Such asanas from the primary series of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system, which are famous for the adjustments involved, include Marichiasana-D, Supta Kurmasana, Paschimattanasana, to name a few. In fact, some teachers become popular due to their skill in providing adjustments in these asanas.

1) The power of adjustments

Good teachers are finely tuned to the energetics of the student's body and therefore their adjustments are strong yet not forceful. The teachers often use the Ujjayi breath and the Bandhas, themselves, while doing the adjustments and therefore for the practitioner, it would feel as though there is a flow of energy from the teacher to the student. 

Bandhas are also great protectors in asana practice and the teachers, when they use them, are able to precisely take the student to the limit of the student's capability without overstretching.  In this state of synchronization between the teacher and the student, the teacher is aware of the subtlest of the mind and body sensations of the student and vice versa. 

2) The downside of adjustments

We saw the power of adjustments, when done correctly with the use of bandhas and the Ujjayi breath by the teacher. The downside of adjustments, on the other hand, has gotten, a much bigger share of attention than the upside. The two major things that stand out in this aspect are: i) injuries inflicted on students by over zealous teachers and ii) inappropriate physical touch including sexual misconduct. The list of teachers (mostly male) accused of sexual misconduct is so long that some want-to-be male teachers of yoga asanas, often hesitate due to the negative connotation of being a male in a field where the students are predominantly female. 

Injuries are common in advanced yoga systems and because of the amount of physical contact during adjustments, accusations of sexual misconduct also do happen. Pattabhi Jois himself was accused of sexual misconduct during and after his lifetime for some of his adjustments though earlier in his career, before teaching the western students, it is said that he never gave such indepth physical adjustments with abundance of physical contact.

3) The lesser known dark side of Asana adjustments

While the issues of injuries and inappropriate touch in asana adjustments is overt, there is another insidious and rather sinister component to asana adjustments, especially one that involves a lot of physical contact and intense coordination. This is the phenomenon of "Rnanubandha" (ऋणानुबन्धा) which comes from the combination of three terms:

ऋण : Rhna or debt

अनु: Anu or that which follows

बन्धा : Bandha or bondage

Rnanubandha, therefore, literally means the bondage that follows debt. When one absorbs energy from another person, one is, in a way, indebted to that person. Debt causes bondage. Though this is a subtle body phenomenon and not too obvious, it causes restlessness of the body. Sadhguru's classic video (below) explains this in great detail. When one absorbs energy from others in heightened states of consciousness, be it in advanced asana adjustments, or during sexual intercourse, it is stored in the body as memory. Therefore, when people pick up energies from many people through many close contacts during which their senses were heightened, they can develop a confusion of memory due to all these conflicting body memories picked up from others. In fact Patanjali in Sutra 4.11 uses a term called "Smriti Samkara" (स्मृति संकर) or confusion of memory. This results in restlessness and unease in the body.

4) The solution 

This is the reason why in traditional Indian culture, hugging is less common (except children, parents, siblings, close friends and spouses). People use the "Namaste" gesture to greet instead of a hug.  When the body becomes more subtle, then these effects are felt in a pronounced fashion.   

The solution prescribed to these encounters (if it is not possible to avoid such encounters that require physical contact during heightened consciousness),  is to have a clean mind during the encounter, for example a physical therapy session, and rest it on a higher entity that has the power to still the mind and prevent excessive assimilation of body memories.