Not too long ago I had a student come up to me after class extremely distraught and downright angry.
She proceeded to tell me that a specific type of 26 posture and two breathing exercises (that shall remain nameless) had ruined her life.
She was a practitioner for nearly 11 years and was slightly bow legged. Turns out that she had been trying to do the postures specifically as her instructors stated, and it essentially f***ed up her joints (pardon my dialogue).
Although I found the “ruined my life” statement a bit dramatic, I have to say that I truly felt for this person and could completely understand her frustration. I know this isn’t the first time this has happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last so it is important to clear the air about some things.
Students listen up:
- If you have to choose between what the teacher is telling you to do and what your body is telling you to do…always listen to your body. As an instructor we only have what we are told about the yoga and what our experience is with the yoga. This in no way makes us an expert on your body!
- Yoga is often repetitive motion that if done the wrong way (for your body) can create a lasting problem. It is important to listen to the instructor as many hot yoga systems are designed to promote safety amongst practitioners. However, if you have never been able to stand with your feet together, heels and toes touching, and it hurts beyond belief to do so…don’t do it and don’t expect the yoga to miraculously make it happen. Do the best you can, with where you are and what you’ve got.
- Take responsibility for your own well-being—don’t accept what the instructor says as gospel without doing research yourself. Determine the pros and cons, rights and wrongs of doing any type of yoga and doing it in a specific way.
- Injuries do occur although they aren’t often spoken about. If you do get injured during yoga use it as an opportunity to get to know your body a little better. Were you pushing too hard? Was something you were instructed to do out of alignment with your build or constitution? Were you so taken by that stunning creature in the mirror that you forgot what you were doing? Or maybe it’s simply your body’s way of telling you to take a time out.
Please remember that every student is vastly different and there really is no one size fits all yoga.
I know we’ve all heard it (and most of us have even said it) “Don’t make the postures fit your body, make your body fit the postures.” Before you ever say this again, seriously consider how it is being interpreted by your students and remember that you are not living inside their body and in reality you have no idea what is best for them.
Leah Magers is a Bikram Certified Yoga Instructor (of the non-militant fashion), Holistic Health Coach and future Acupuncturist. Her mission is to make sure all Hot Yoga students are sweating safely and successfully. www.hotyogahealthcoach.com
Editor: Ryan Pinkard