Wanted (My Yoga Wish List). ~ Kate Stone

Via on Mar 12, 2013

yoga-class

In the neverending quest to find the “perfect” yoga class, I humbly ask for the following things.

Dear Krishna Santa Craigslist?

Whatever.

I fully realize they are individually unrealistic, and collectively impossible. But it’s worth a shot.

  1. Students who listen to the teacher. While verbal cues may often sound like the fancy Twister that you are not drunk enough yet to play, there are some words in yoga that are really not that hard to follow. “Bend your knee” isn’t a trick. You know what it means and you know your leg is still straight. What exactly is happening in your brain that you are still standing there, not bending your goddamned knee? The rest of us are sweating it out in a 20-minute Warrior II hold because the instructor has to talk to your frozen ass individually.
  1. Teachers versed in anatomy. Nothing thrills me more than a well-placed directive about “fascia.” If you can explain the “why” behind the alignment or talk about a muscle that gets little to no daily play, I’m yours. Absolutely. If, however, you tell me to exaggerate the curve in my lumbar spine, compress my cervical spine or otherwise torque my body, you’re dead to me. Same goes for banal cues that you memorized during your weekend teacher training but that don’t work for all bodies.
  1. Students who listen to their bodies. It’s a recurring theme that most people have terrible body awareness (or awareness at all—see also: 1, 4 and 6). So when instructors tell you that it’s not a weakness to take Child’s Pose or that bending your back knee might help align your spine in a straight line, believe them. Do not, instead, try the exact opposite in an effort to achieve non-existent Yoga Badassery. This is not a thing. Torn ACLs, though, are totally a thing. 
  1. Clutter-free practice space. I won’t lie and say I don’t look like an Arctic pack animal when I walk into a studio. I do. But I place my precious items, culled from the Homeless Man Collection, in the designated space. Your Vita Coco wrappers and water bottles and raw protein bars are turning this into the new movie theater experience. If I wanted to hear you chewing, I would…well, I would never because chewing is the worst sound ever made. So, when the class is crowded and you are happily slurping away, do not get mad at me for moving your string backpack four inches to the left.
  1. Teachers who are anal about balancing both sides. Okay, this is probably just my crazy showing, but if you do a whole sequence on the right side at six breaths per pose and then you blow through the left side at two breaths per pose, it legitimately makes me feel cheated. Half-pigeon for half as long on the left? Bogus. Time that shit.
  1. One more time for good measure: people who are aware of their surroundings. Put your props away the way you found them. You know you didn’t find that block wedged diagonally between the blankets in the back of the room. Be considerate about these tight quarters in which we find ourselves. I might touch your mat by accident or kick you in the face…I’m sorry. But I will try like hell to stay within a reasonable range of motion, and you should really do the same. Also, no cutting in line to get into the room. WTF is wrong with you?! This is yoga. And you’re wearing a Spiritual Gangster shirt proclaiming how much you love LOVE? Get it together and wait your turn.
  1. Teachers who do proper (anatomically appropriate) adjustments. Actually, fuck everything else on this list. If you push me further into a pose or pretty much touch me at all, I will consider my practice complete and will Savasana my way into a better day. Every time.

 

Kate StoneKate Stone started taking yoga in middle school as a rebellious move against sports camp. After years of gymnastics, not having to flip over after a backbend was a relief, and the practice stuck. After college, Kate moved to Chicago to teach mean children how to read. She was marginally successful but felt severely, physically ill-equipped to deal with the fighting in her classroom. As someone who takes things literally, she became a personal trainer. Kate spent eight years in Chicago working in gyms, bars and museums, feeling like she was supposed to have a real job. Last year she realized she doesn’t ever want one of those. Kate spent all of her money on yoga training, and is now a yoga teacher, writer and bartender living in Boston.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

 

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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13 Responses to “Wanted (My Yoga Wish List). ~ Kate Stone”

  1. YogiSophie says:

    If you want numbers 2, 5, and 7 fulfilled, go take a workshop with Jill Miller! Or, if you ever get to Ottawa, Canada, go take a class with Todd Lavictoire, you will leave super smiley! (I'm sure there are other people who have been taught by Jill Miller who are just as good as Todd, but I know Todd, and he's amazing!)

  2. Muks says:

    @ the other teachers: I don't mind being touched when adjusted. Sometimes I just don't understand 1 and don't really master 3. Then I need help :(

  3. Tracy says:

    I would say I know of one yoga teacher at Yoga House in Pasadena who fulfills all of the above, actually make that two teachers at Yoga House who know their s**t.

  4. Lisa says:

    If a student doesn't respond to your cue (#1), don't force the issue. They may have a physical or mental block and be unable to do what you've asked. Just move on and allow them to practice to their own ability.

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      Just move on and allow them to practice to their own ability.

      Yeah, just like we used to do in aerobics. Even if some of us had to "take back aerobics " at first …

      Sometimes, yoga teachers can be so dogmatic they make those aerobics drill sergeants look downright kind.

      Signed,

      Climbed back up out from that rabbit hole

  5. Greg says:

    your crzy was showing long before #5. Breathe.

  6. @tishushu says:

    I FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL you on #5.

  7. Sybil says:

    how about leaving out the 'better than/less than/easy/more advanced' terminology when giving options? Or, leaving out the 'this is good for weight loss' comments?

    Sometimes a student can (almost) leave a yoga class feeling worse than when we arrive. (Or perhaps I'm just having a crap day today.)

  8. Christine says:

    Ms. Stone. You are absolutely hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

  9. confused says:

    It's articles like this that make beginers like me never want to return to another yoga class. why is everyone so worried about what others are doing? if someone isn't listening to the instructor it is probably because ability wise it isn't possible on that day. focus on your own practice and maybe you'll find more inner peace. isn't that what this is all about anyway?

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      YESSS!

      If not ability, then what is brought to the table, mentally. I had been there. And I'd had the classroom assistant humiliating me and "riding" me with commanding and adjusting me for every pose for a good 30% of the class, it felt.

      But please give your class another chance. Or try to change minds. Or both.

      If the minds of the teacher/assistant/studio honchos cannot be changed, then there may be many other classes/studios to choose from. If not, there are online and DVDs.

  10. Maria says:

    Good grief! Chill.

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