Friday, October 19, 2007

Yoga Class & Tips for All Yoga Teachers

  • Last night I went to yoga-- it was the first time in a few months and I was happy to be there.What is it about yoga teachers? I have had ONE out of many who is actually good. The rest are insecure, unprofessional whineybutts who beg for accolades.

  • I got there and the teacher was new. She asked if I minded that she was new. I said, "What do you call an MD who has been practicing for fifteen years in private practice?"

    She said she didn't know. I said, "Doctor. The same thing you call an MD who graduated ten minutes ago. This class isn't about you, it's about us focusing on our bodies. Don't worry about being new. It's not about you. Saying how new you are takes off thinking about what we are supposed to be doing and unless it's a liability and you have to say it, it's not an issue to anyone." I thought I'd made a point. I was wrong.

    Three teachers came in who I know. "Oh, your first class! WE wouldn't miss it!" (High pitched sqeallies all around.)

    All through the class, the new teacher giggled and chattered just like the teachers who came in to offer support/ re-enforce bad teaching habits.

    Why are so many yoga teachers feelers and not thinkers? I'm a feeler but I also pay attention to people!

    We got into some balancing poses and just like the three numbnuts who came in do in their classes, the teacher chattered about "the quiet place." She started freaking describing the quiet place! I kid you not, her voice nearly knocked me over. Every time I got focussed, she'd say something trying to elongate her voice. The three ditzes were complimenting her, "You so have a gift for this! hee hee" One would say something and the others would repeat it then the other women in the class had to add, vigorously shake their heads, contribute.

    This isn't just the new teacher-- this tends to be yoga teachers in general.

    Like most other yoga teachers, she went into reminding us all through the session what NOT to think about! "Leave your husband, your kids, your shopping trip (giggle) outside this roooom!"

    I tried tuning her out, of focusing on relaxing, etc.

    Then she started talking about getting tired. This was like throwing a weight at me. Why do yoga teachers tell you exactly what you shouldn't hear? I finally said, "I'm not here to talk about being tired! I am here to get pumped up! Whoooo! A little fatigue won't get me down!" Everyone in the class looked at me like I was crazy. I said, "I'm going home for cold beer. Beer!" They probably thought I was an alcoholic but I didn't care. Those people were about to drive me to drinking.

    The silliest thing she did was talk about how hard a series of poses would be then said, "Think only of the here and now! Be. Just be in the present." WTF?!!!

    She kept talking about "Relax. Americans have too much stress." OK, this isn't about the rest of America. Yoga is about the individual. Oh now, "Americans eat too much fat. Americans this-Americans-that. I wanted to say, "Americans talk too much in yoga classes."

    What made no sense to me was during the final rest she said, "Breathe in peace and love and spread harmony all around you." What on earth does that mean? She told everyone to "share" their wishes for the class. They said the sappiest things I have yet to hear but are typical of these classes, "I just want everyone to go home to night and experience love!" I said, "Beer. I want beer and for everyone in this class to go home and enjoy a cold beverage of their choice. BEER!" They all moved their mats further away from me.

    I love yoga. I love the meditative aspect of it but it is so hard to get to a class where the teacher doesn't have diarrhea of the mouth. I know that the fault probably lies with yoga magazines and yoga DVDs where they just don't show people being silent.

    This teacher had going for her a decent voice. She could be very effective if she knew how and when to be quiet. One of my friends owns the studio and I sent her an email. I hope she likes what I told her. My friend is a great yoga teacher who follows what I have said but most don't.

  • When you are new, don't say it more than three times per class or if you must, to the late students that come in if you have liability issues and HAVE TO TELL THEM. This isn't a performance and if it was, you'd want people to think more of what you were doing, not that you are new.
    • A person who keeps saying how new they are will get most people to tell them they are great even if they can barely get through the poses. This isn't a focus on the teacher: this is a meditative work out and the focus is on the students stretching and meditating. STFU and get on with the class.
    • Never, ever refer to your class as guinea pigs.
  • If the class is looking tired, do not say how tiring it is. I don't know I am tired-- when I am in class, I want to be thinking, "I'm stretching the right leg as far as I can, my alignment is good, I am fixing this leg. My balance is getting better." Commenting on being tired is like throwing a weight at me. "I am tired. I want to go home to bed. Bed. My husband is in it. He is probably going to want sex and he will make a dumb remark about my flabby butt being firmer and that I can crack walnuts in it or some other stupid cliche." I loose my focus on my body when teachers jabber about that.
    • I THINK that they could better help us by telling us instead that our muscles may be getting fatigued which happens as we work out toxins. A little fatigue is good-- teachers need to teach us to be aware of bad fatigue that we need to be reminded of lest we faint. "Dizzy is not good. If you are dizzy, come out of the pose. Get a drink of water."
  • During drishti (I think I spelled that correctly-- Eagle, Dancing Shiva, Tree) they need to give us tips going in to the poses, to relax our mouths and hands etc., then STFU and let us find that "silent place" and focus. I don't know how most people feel, but when a teacher babbles on and on about the "silent place," they keep me from focusing. "I am going to be silent for the next thirty seconds then say 3-2-1 and you need to come out gently and I will guide you into the other side." That would be beautiful.
  • Talking about other classes, talking about the next three poses before we do them, THEN telling us to focus on the here and now is counter-productive.
  • When they remind us of what stresses to leave at home, "Work, the kids, the partners" they bring them all back up into the front of my mind and I tense up. After ten minutes into class, I am THERE. I do not be reminded of what not to think of. That just makes me mad that they never catch on.
Yoga teachers need to have good voices for teaching. If a student tells you what a great airy or pretty voice you have, fix it. They are not thinking of the work out. Airy annoys the hell out of some of us.

Yoga instructors need to be aware that it's not about them. It's about them giving their class a great workout where they focus and help the students forget about everything for a bit. If I am trying to block your voice out and only filter in your tips on holding a pose, you have FAILED.

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