I love trying out new Yoga classes and new teachers, its important for me as a Yoga teacher in training to observe and learn from those already qualified in everything from pose prompts, pose safety, how to speak to a class etc. Every Yoga teacher is different and its a great learning curve while gaining experience in something I am passionate about.
With that in mind have you ever gone to a Yoga class and been disappointed? Its rare but it happens and thought it would be a good topic since it recently happened to me.
Two weeks ago I attended a local Yoga studio (no names) for a 60 min beginners class. The studio was very large, colourful, comfortable and bright. When I arrived there were only 2 others so I set up my mat and waited. By 10 o’clock when the class was due to start there were 30+ people and the hall was still filling. Despite it being a large hall it was very full. By 10.10 we finally started. The Yoga teacher put us through 2 sets of sun salutations and moved onto individual poses, tree (vrksasana), warrior II (virahbhadrasana II), standing twists, Cow Face (Gomukhasana) then Corpse Pose (savasana). Finish @ 11.
Sounds like quite a standard class and it has taken me a week of pondering to wonder what it was that I didn’t enjoy, was it the yoga style? Was it the practice space? Was it the teacher.
Yoga is not just about the poses, at a class its the bits in between like getting into and getting out of poses, the breathing and respecting your own ability really matter. This was where it went wrong for me. This was a beginners class with over 40 attending, the hall was very full. There were no advisories at the start, no help for hand or feet placement for safety and breathing cues were very vague. With zero interaction, the teacher did not give any modifications or variations and at several points told the whole class they were lazy if they had to lift their hands for a step through from downward dog to low lunge? The only guidance given was to follow the teacher in a ‘Simon Says’ style while they performed the asanas. In their favour their Yoga was beautiful, graceful and strong just difficult to follow while practicing.
If this had been a Vinyasa class or Intermediate class I could of understood, you should know basic hand/foot placement, breathing cues and modifications if you need them BUT this was a beginners class where people come to learn basics, stretch and work themselves into knowing themselves again physically and emotionally. It can take a lot to even feel confident and dig deep enough to go to your first yoga class. Do not know how many beginners were there but it put me off going back.
It made me realise there are many kinds of Yoga teacher within the many kinds of Yoga. There is definitely not a one size fits all approach and it is so important to find a yoga style, a class and a teacher that is right for you!
For me it is the one that is supportive, patient, makes you feel like you can achieve anything but what you are achieving is right for you at this moment. This teacher is there to make sure that the class is guided safely through each posture onto the next from start to finish. This teacher is all about the student.
This is the teacher I want to be.