7 Reasons I Could Never Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Sara Bruskin

Via on Apr 8, 2011
Photo: Beau Hooker

Never ever ever ever.

I did actually attend a yoga teacher certification program several years ago. I was excited to guide people in a practice I was passionate about, and a teaching certification would enable me to substitute in my mom’s yoga classes when her injury was acting up.

Then I realized why this idea sucked.

1)  Yoga terrifies me, sometimes.

In one particular yoga class last week, I was happily arched over a block in supported bridge posture. Then the instructor told us to lift our legs straight up in the air—the legs that were attached to the feet that were contentedly planted on the floor; lifting them would leave nothing to support my hips but a narrow, wobbly block. As I raised my legs, I kept imagining the sickening crack of my tailbone hitting the hardwood floor if I so much as sneezed.

The only thing that kept me sane during this mini freak out was the thought that our yoga instructor probably knew what he was doing. Despite my nervous discomfort with the pose, I held it because I figured the teacher knew his class was safe. I figured he knew that a fall of less than one foot would not faze my tailbone. I figured he would keep me out of harm’s way.

If I were in his position, I would hate knowing that my students had that much confidence in me.

The pressure of being in charge of others’ bodies is more than I could handle. I’m barely comfortable being in charge of my own body. Not only would the pressure of being a yoga teacher break me in half, but paranoid people are not very good at inspiring calmness and relaxation in others.

2)  The Sex Goddess.

Have you ever been in a bar, and heard a woman say that she’s a yoga teacher? There’s always one guy who nods his head in a knowing way and goes, “niiiiiiiiiiiice.” Telling others that you’re a yoga teacher seems akin to telling them that you’re great in bed. While that doesn’t sound like a bad assumption, it’s really not the first thing I want people picturing when I introduce myself.

Despite the many things that yoga instructors are capable of, this fixation with sexual aptitude overshadows them all. It doesn’t help that there are dozens of photos and videos featuring sexy, bikini-clad yoga teachers wearing high heels, of all things, as they demonstrate their superhuman flexibility. Popular entertainment has also encouraged the sexpot image of yoga instructors.

Dialogue in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, in which Barney attempts to turn down an attractive “hippy”:

 

Photo: lululemon athletica

Barney: “Dear Female, Thank you for your interest in Barney Stinson. I regret to inform you that at this time, there are currently no positions available.”

Nora: “I’m a yoga instructor. Every position is available.”

Many people carry around preconceived notions of female yoga teachers as tantric sex goddesses who bend themselves into impossibly erotic positions.

Maybe this is true of some yoginis, but I still don’t want the mention of my profession to elicit creepy mental images.

3)  Lululemon. Enough said.

Yoga clothes are absurdly expensive. Considering a yoga teacher’s salary, it would be quite a…stretch…trying to keep myself fully clad in yoga-appropriate attire. I own exactly one pair of yoga pants. Students would get super tired of seeing them, and I refuse to buy more. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they finally rip.

Of course, there’s always the option of breaking out of the prAna realm, and just finding some cheap, stretchy stuff to wear.

Or simply say, “I’m going to wear the same pants every day, and my students can deal with it. If they misbehave, I’m going to stop washing them too.”

4)  Mindful Meditation.

While leading Savasana, I would always be pretending that the class is my army of zombies, getting ready to rise from the dead. It’s actually hard to understand how any yoga teacher doesn’t think about that, considering Savasana means “corpse pose.” When the students would all start to creakily rise from their mats, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold back the nefarious laughter.

This may not sound terribly disruptive or problematic, but most vegetarian students are opposed to incorporating brains into their daily diets.

5)  Chaturanga on blue!

Fitness classes in general have always struck me as odd games of Simon Says in which nobody ever loses. The teacher gives an instruction, and the masses follow. Freely given power over obedient students would be entirely too easy to abuse, and the potential for competitive shenanigans too great to pass up.

Photo: Peter Taylor

My yoga classes would degenerate into chaotic games of Twister. You have to race to the right color before you can start any given asana. Last person to complete five reps loses and has to sit in the corner until they catch the dodgeball. The potential awesomeness of these classes outweighs the safety hazards.

I realize this ambition contradicts my mentality in Reason #1, but that’s ok. Hypocrisy is good for you.

While this practice could be valuable in its own right, it could not be called yoga. The competitive element, mixed with encouragement of speed over proper alignment and safety stands in blatant disregard of many yogic teachings.

6)  7:00 p.m. yoga class = 4:00 p.m. dinner.

I am completely unwilling to plan my meals around yoga. As much as I love evening yoga classes, my stomach is the law in this town, and if it’s hungry 15 minutes before class, it’s getting fed.

I will then either skip yoga altogether, or attempt some of the postures while deep in a food coma, and spend most of the class in child’s pose.

Okay for a lazy student, not so okay for the teacher.

7)  There’s no beating Mom’s cooking.

My mom is a yoga teacher, and I would have a hell of a time living up to her example. It’s been nearly five years since I’ve lived close enough to attend her classes on a regular basis, and in that time, not a single yoga teacher has surpassed her in my mind. I know I’m being ridiculously biased and slightly bratty, but I refuse to concede that any yogi or yogini is better at teaching yoga than my mom.

To put this in clear perspective, I took a class from Seane Corn (an absolute rock star among yoga teachers), and while it was amazing, I still came out missing my mom’s teaching.

If Seane Corn can’t even measure up, I think it’s best that I leave the yoga to my mom.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sara Bruskin recently graduated from the University of Colorado, and is working as an intern for Colorado Common Cause, and elephantjournal.com.

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38 Responses to “7 Reasons I Could Never Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Sara Bruskin”

  1. Anne Falkowski anne says:

    I loved this

  2. Sam Geppi says:

    " know I’m being ridiculously biased and slightly bratty, but I refuse to concede that any yogi or yogini is better at teaching yoga than my mom."

    Puts the whole article nicely into perspective.

    I wish it had been the first line in the article rather than the last.

  3. renegadecd says:

    Agree with Sam. That line helps. I spent the first half the article wondering why you care so much about how others will perceive you. And the second half thinking, "good thing she doesn't want to be one." But no one being as good as mom could have made this cute if I knew it up front.

    Holding the fear/energy of insecurity about people judging you will invite people to do just that. One attracts the other.

    • Yogini5 says:

      I could never be a yoga teacher either.
      Not everyone practicing yoga HAS to teach it.
      Teacher training is not much more than a cash cow for the studios.
      Former master teacher of a studio I used to go to and will never return, is always ahead of the curve business-wise.
      He set up shop in a lower-Upper-class suburb and offers a repackaged "teacher training-lite" in the form of advanced workshops that do not certify one to teach, but is for yoga students wanting more …
      Yoga teacher training is pathetic and ridiculous when classes are full of yoga teacher trainees and there are not enough jobs for yoga teachers …

      • Linda-Sama says:

        you got that right. too many teachers in my area, not enough students. all the TT programs that every studio has do no favors to struggling teachers who've been around for a long time. nothing but a cash cow for studios.

  4. Antoinette says:

    I am certified as well and will probably never teach. In my mind it would be a lot like prostitution. Before you go and hit the reply button–i don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I love sex–if it becomes my career what will I have left to lose myself in? I feel the same way about teaching yoga. It is a guaranteed two hour pause each day. If I turn it too into work then what will I have to slow time down?

    • Yogini5 says:

      I have always thought teaching yoga was more like pimping than prostitution. Pimping out little morsels of your knowledge, so that the student who is hungry for your knowledge is fed it in little bite size portions. Be it philosophical or physical knowledge.

      This is independent of the fact that these yoga teachers charge a lot of money for this over time, and get you to spend more money for this over time. Unbundle one from the other, and you still see my point. Because time is also money, too. And an overcrowded by-donation class would be a waste of my precious time because I don't learn by osmosis.

      Even if you went through a teacher training, you teach yourself, ultimately. Even if you could never have a home practice on your own for those two hours. Where the pace of your learning (even if there are holes in your knowledge) is determined by you.

  5. Hi, Sara. What a wonderfully entertaining and well-written article. More please!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  6. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  7. char says:

    LOVED this! Great writing, wit, and honesty! Made me laugh out loud at some of the parallels in my thoughts. The world thanks you for not taking yourself too seriously. ;-)

  8. Jennifer Williams-Fields Jennifer says:

    Now when I'm teaching this week I'll be thinking about Twister and zombies. Thanks a lot! Great article, loved it and wish I could take class from your mom!

  9. Yogini5 says:

    What I never understood is how someone like Tao Porchon-Lynch, age 93 or so, never specialized in seniors, and near-seniors like myself.

    I saw your website, and you title your classes all the (euphemistic) names I love.

    I am not anywhere near decrepit, but I have been recommended (of course by a 23 year old yoga teacher who is too stupid to see that's why I don't go to her studio any more) "Gentle Yoga" and other insulting kinds of class titles.

    You will never catch me dead in a "Boomer Yoga" or a "Senior Yoga" class.

    I hope these kids half my age who need to expand their market share into the lucrative Boomer and Joneser markets realize this.

    • yoga-adan says:

      i bet you can do any yoga you want!lot of things i learn or first do, i have to create the synapses in my brain by going slow slow slow ;-) but once i got it down! ;-)i wish you all the best, and hope you keep writing!

  10. Hilary Lindsay says:

    This is a riot. What more can I say other than it's refreshing to find someone who loves yoga but doesn't need to teach it! Thanks for the laughs. Well done.

  11. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  12. ngyilian says:

    Thank you for this witty post! It's always refreshing to read about a yogi who refuses to take himself/herself too seriously. You can be spiritual and funny at the same time, you know!

  13. Sarah says:

    Love the zombie army thing! Never thought of that but now I always will when in savasana!! hahaha…

  14. Sara Bruskin Sara says:

    No judgment here. If you have the discipline to do it, more power to you.

  15. [...] 7 Reasons I Could Never Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Sara Bruskin [...]

  16. danka says:

    number 4 just made me laugh all way down the post!! good one!!

  17. [...] in my gut, making its way to my esophagus and burning the back of my throat. My lungs suddenly felt starved of air. I tried to swallow It back, but whatever It was, It was relentless about finding an [...]

  18. Lynn Roberts says:

    And planning your meals around yoga gets even harder when you've got two small children like I do. I teach 7+ classes a week. But between my husband and me, we make it work, planning out meals, using the crock pot, etc. I always eat a snack before I head out to teach, then eat dinner later around 7 or so, whenever I am back. And I do my own yoga practice at home usually, on the two days my children are in daycare, and on the weekend. Sometimes they are in the room with me, but thatis awesome, because they won't be this young forever, and I want them to be curious about yoga.

  19. Y. Ogi says:

    omg, I don't think I can do corps pose ever again without thinking about you! love the article

  20. [...] of what people may try to sell you, yoga is not the solution to the problems in your life. It doesn’t make you any less vulnerable, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t fail, it [...]

  21. Moms Group says:

    yep. I'm glad you're not a Yoga teacher too!

  22. Nancy says:

    like!

  23. [...] to a full-blown yogini. I am very proud to say that I graduated last month as one of the world’s newest yoga teachers and could not imagine my life now, had I not embarked upon that [...]

  24. Jenifer says:

    cute.

    i will point out that most yoga teachers whom i know do not wear expensive clothes (prana, lulu, etc). I know some who do (because their husbands have coin), but I wear american apparel. It's durable, the cuts work, and it's inexpensive. Yes, $17 for a fair-trade tank top that holds is shape nicely over the course of two years while I destroy it (for the record, a friend bought me some prana one year as a gift, and those lasted two years, too, and i followed the washing instructions!).

    so, there are options. you don't have to buy lulu or prana. you can if you want, but you don't have to. :)

  25. Solo says:

    Your #3 is an epitome of everything that's wrong with approach to yoga in this society. You'd better worry whether your students learn and pay attention to stuff such as breathing, drishti and bandhas, cause those have everything to do with yoga, while lululemon has nothing.

  26. shannon says:

    AWESOME

  27. Alexis says:

    How about touching sweaty, smelly people in compromising places? I know whenever any of my teachers have to externally rotate my thighs in any pose I feel great sympathy for them since I am the sweatiest person in calss, always!

  28. Cory says:

    I loved this… I am a yoga teacher and I'm actively teaching, and I feel the same way about everything you said… Now that you mentioned zombies, I'm going to think of that every time… It's kind of awesome… My own set of walkers…

  29. Martha says:

    I also got a YOGA teacher certification and didn't want to teach either. I totally relate to the (in my case) FEAR of being in charge of the safety of some one else's body. It is a huge responsibility! loved your article!

  30. Yogini5 says:

    "There will be people who think you are not a "real" yoga teacher unless you shell out $90 for yoga pants, or unless you bust out into Astavakrasana every ten minutes, or unless you read the Gita in every class. Or unless you have an ethereal and slightly creepy 'yoga voice.' "

    Although the voice got better since she'd returned from her latest teacher training, this exact kind of teacher/yoga studio owner is the reason I will never return to a certain studio. Just substitute pincha and headstand for Astavakrasana (school of yoga lineage plays a part) and you are describing Swamini to a tee … lol …

    And she promoted Lululemon on her blog … retch time! (Must have been an "ambassador" who got a cut in price for doing so ..)

  31. Sara Bruskin Sara says:

    Thanks so much for reading. You sound like a great teacher!

  32. Monique says:

    Lol, thanks:) And thanks for writing, you sound like a great human!

  33. Yogini5 says:

    " # 5 – another ringer, 'that’s ok. Hypocrisy is good for you' – nice

    re not being yoga if competitive, hmmm, how bout that "playing your edge" loophole? ;-) w/proper alignment & safety, of course!

    i actually sometimes encourage my classes to compete with themselves to find where they can use a modification on their own, i get a lot of perplexed eye-brow lifts there"

    Mild hatha-style teacher, are you? ♥

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