The Art of Modifying.

At one point or another in your DDP YOGA practise you will hear the word modify. You will hear it as a home practitioner working out to the DDP YOGA NOW app, you will hear it from DDP at workshops or retreats. You will hear it as an Instructor in Training all the time, “modify this…” or “this is the modification for the class….”


This is not a blog dedicated to individual modifications, or how to modify certain positions. If you have practised with the DDP YOGA NOW app, you are probably aware of the modifications and when to apply them in your own workouts. This blog is for the Instructor and Instructors in Training. This is about the Art of Modifying.


This is definitely a blog of 2 tales though. The first of which is from the Instructors/Instructors in Training personal point of view, when to modify for yourself and why. I can speak from very personal experience about this. When I first started teaching DDP YOGA my heart rate would be uncomfortably high……I mean really high, like 170-180. A combination of nerves, shouting the cues (I tended to shout a lot) and doing the full Level 1 Workout had me pushing the limit of my cardio ability. I would wake up the morning after my class feeling like I’d been to Suplex City with Brock Lesnar. Finally after several weeks of teaching like this, I lost my ego and started to modify. I used my initiative as to what modifications would work best and not hinder the Level 1 videos. Dropping to a knee in the punching lunge phase, always brought me back to a comfortable 135-140 bpm. Not engaging fully on certain DR moves, like the Rows and Curls. All of these little modifications allowed me to still hit the push ups and broken table crunches without blasting myself through the roof! Still to this day (3 years into to teaching DDP YOGA), I have classes where my heart rate will explode (the energy of the class can help with that) so I will modify by not engaging so hard, or taking a knee in a lunge.


Those ideas should have you guys covered, now lets look at the people in your class.

You will have at least 4 different types of people in each class:

The committed crew; they know what they want from the workout, and do it to the best of their ability.

The socialisers; they come because of a friend (committed crew) and probably don’t work as hard as they could.

The over-worker; drenched in sweat, red faced and breathing fast and hard.

The ?; might not be listening, might have unmentioned injuries or issues, falling over, poor form etc….


You can probably guess 1 & 2 will take care of them selves, they listen. 2 will modify regularly without issue, 1 knows all the mods and when to use them. It’s 3 & 4 that I want to focus on. Aside from the fact that 4 should have told you on your waiver form of any injuries or health issues, there is one key point of action here…….you need to get them to modify.


So how do you get someone to modify in a class situation without ruining the flow? I personally tend to follow these steps:

Give all the modifications you can verbally to the whole class. As soon as you see someone is a 3 or 4 start emphasising the modifications. Put extra effort in to phrases like “check your heart rate, if it’s too high….” or “If you're feel your balance going, try modifying by….”


If they still haven't modified, it’s your turn. Example: you are in a lunge doing butterflies and person 4 is falling over and losing balance. You lower to a knee, make eye contact with them and say “follow me here”. This should remove any ego they have without calling them out. Hopefully they will follow on (most do). If not then you have to call them out……be nice. Something like “While we’re here, bro I just want you to lower to a knee for me……cool. That’s going to help you stay safe in this workout.” 🙂


Same theory applies to the 3’s. Check your heart rate, ask them for theirs. remove their ego, by modifying with them.  Keep modifying with them throughout the class. Call it a few times for the whole class at first but it’s not necessary to explain the same modification multiple times……It will only slow you down.


I know we ask the class to lose their ego at the door, I know we give modifications thoroughly throughout. But some people have trouble with that. If they see you, the instructor, modifying this workout they will too.


Remove your ego to help them remove theirs.


See you next time!


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Comments 1

  1. I just recently came to that conclusion that I have to modify some while calling out a level 1, it felt like I was cheating so I’m glad to get the affirmation. Some great info bro!

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