yoga · yoga + adjustments · yoga blogs · yoga in Mexico · yoga injuries

Yoga Teacher Rants. Feels Better After.

(Warning: diatribe ahead).

Dear Potential Yoga Student,

When you call or email me to ask me about my group yoga classes, I take a short personal and medical history. When you ask for my recommendation, and I tell you a certain class is not appropriate for you, I mean it. Do not show up, hoping I will let you in. If I ask you to show up early, so that I can do a visual assessment in order to double check conclusions drawn just from conversation, do NOT show up after class has begun and hope I haven’t noticed. I will have noticed, and everyone else in class will have noticed and you will really irritate me. Yes, yoga teachers get irritated. Especially ones who learned to drive in Massachusetts.

When I say ‘No’, I mean NO because I am all to well aware that not every yoga class is right for every body. If you have had surgeries on your joints to mend tears or replace broken body bits, please do not assume you can just sidle into class sideways, set up your props, and join in quietly. You can’t and you won’t. If you have asked your doctor and your physical therapist for advice, and are hoping I will countermand their orders, I won’t. Don’t even try. And if I suspect you are hiding something, you are in deep trouble. I have four kids. I can smell deception from three days away.

I would like to make a plea to all yoga teachers and studio owners: Don’t be bullied into a ‘yes’ simply because you imagine you need the money or the ‘numbers’. I would also like to make a plea to all yoga students: Listen up! When a yoga teacher says ‘No’, imagine they know what they’re talking about! If you could then engage them in a conversation about that ‘No’, chances are very, very good that they will direct you to a ‘Yes’ alternative. Some other class, perhaps, or some one-on-one sessions to get you up to speed for the class you THINK you should be in.

And while I am at it I have something to say to the newly-minted yoga teachers out there: Quit using class time as your ‘practice’ time! Stand up, walk around, LOOK around, and hone your instructing and adjusting skills in order to serve your students more fully. Revisit your class descriptions to see that they reflect your current ‘curriculum’ and student population. Redirect the folks, for whom that class is not a good choice, to other classes or other teachers. Be brave! In the long run, it is better for everyone. We’ll see fewer injuries and have happier students. We’ll have less media backlash to endure and answer to, and best of all I’ll be able to get back to blogging without the aid of a soapbox.

Love and rockets~

Liza

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2 thoughts on “Yoga Teacher Rants. Feels Better After.

  1. I feel you. I read your rant a while back and while I got it, it didn’t quite land for me. This time it did. I teach a gentle class in a small market. Small numbers. It’s a multi-provider center, and the owner is not herself a yoga teacher. She thinks if you’re a yoga teacher you can automatically do yoga therapy. She thinks a gentle class is the same thing as a beginner class. Nearly all of my students have not had a basics class. Recently she recommended my class for a sweet woman who is recovering (I hope) from multiple injuries/surgeries. She can’t stand up straight, her balance is shot, she can’t get up off the floor unassisted. In that same regular group is an athletic young woman who has the cleanest, Iyengar-trained form. I just love watching her. Of course, she’s not being challenged at all in the same group where most of the regulars don’t even have the basics. Talk about a mixed group. Did I mention small market, small numbers? I can’t bring myself to turn anyone away. So I run from one end of the class to the other trying for an hour and half to keep all the balls in the air. I have no insight to offer here; no suggestions. I’ll just say thanks for letting me air it out. And, of course, I dearly love teaching yoga.

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  2. Those types of class situations, Bharat, can be such rich ‘training’ grounds for teachers, and they can be stewpots of challenges. This rant was about a particular incident that just left me wondering if people have stopped listening…

    If you ever have the opportunity where you teach to offer a ‘basics’ segment to each class, try that. Teach an array of levels to each pose you present. Take it slow. Weave in breath work. And love the broken bodies and damaged souls as much as the ones with the clean lines. There are lessons to be gleaned in looking through the cracks.

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