Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t). ~ Alice Williams

Via Alice Williamson Aug 28, 2013

angry-teacher-pointing

Despite what every ill-informed medical professional tells you, not all yoga is good.

Bonus: Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.

Ha! There, I said it.

Just had a vertebra removed/hernia operation/six months pregnant and your doctor told you ‘yoga might help?’ Then this Power class is for you.

When we say ‘notice any intense feelings in this pose and let them go,’ we mean ‘Stop looking at me like I’m Hitler.’

Please don’t giggle when we say ‘perineum.’ Just think about the muscles of the pelvic floor: how would you describe them?

You in the back, who keeps checking your mobile phone, see the way you’re jamming your arms straight, crunching your lower back and throwing your head back? You know how your mouth was moving before? We’re saying ‘don’t do that.’

Can’t do yoga because you’re ‘not flexible’? We admire you more than you realise just for turning up. Having said that, if you insist on contorting your body into the most advanced version of every pose ‘cause that’s real yoga,’ then send my love to your chiropractor.

Like you, our Chakras aren’t always aligned. But when you’ve had a bad day, chances are you can hide behind your computer. When we’ve had a bad day we have to pray like a mother*** that we can let it go before our 5:30 class.

Twenty percent of yoga teachers came to yoga through anger management problems, 10 percent through injury rehabilitation, and the rest of us are raging control freaks trying to keep it in check.

Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what is going on in your knee, shoulder, pinkie toe. Here’s a tip, if something’s really pinching, don’t do it.

If we drone on about ‘respecting others,’ it’s only because the two girls catching up on gossip in the back row are giving us the shits. That or we’re trying to tell the lady behind you that covering up her hastily smoked Marlboro Lights with lashings of J-Lo’s Dream isn’t working.

Sure, we see you as a ‘whole person, beautiful in your completeness,’ but when you step onto the mat, we also see you as a collection of joints that are in or out of alignment. So when we manually adjust your pose, we’re really just helping you to align, not trying to pinch your bum.

Wow, yes, do answer your texts during the forward bends. Did you come to yoga to just ‘chill, get some me time, y’know tune in?’ Then start by turning off your mutha-loving phone.

We don’t like it when you leave before Savasana, for the same reason that Jamie doesn’t like you taking your lemon chicken out of the oven ten minutes early: you’re undercooked. And also, it’s really rude.

No one cares what you wear. Having said that, those leggings are more see-through than you think.

Like you, most of us can’t put our foot behind our head. And yet we have the gall to call ourselves yoga teachers. Go figure.

In an average class, there’ll be a depressed person, a blissed-out person, and a one-bitten-fingernail-away-from-going-postal person. Some want to sweat, others want gentle coaxing. But if you think our class is “not as good as my other teacher, Satya’s,” know that it’s impossible to please everyone. (Oh and by the way, Satya’s real name is Karen.)

After a long week telling people to breathe in and out, there’s nothing better than lying on the couch to watch a jolly good beheading on Game of Thrones.

If the class theme is ‘equanimity,’ chances are we’re trying not to take it personally that two people turned up to last night’s class. Ditto ‘body love’, ‘Patience’ and ‘forgiving those who’ve wronged us’.

Some teachers like to be idolised, others don’t care for it. But if you do, you’re 80% more likely to hear that they’ve been involved in a sex scandal or killed their own prey.

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you eat meat / get injuries / were found drunk in the gutter!’ Yes, that’s right, we’re human. Need to learn from someone perfect? Good luck with that.

The people who tell you how amaaaaazing yoga is are usually the ones who don’t turn up regularly. Serious about your practice? Turn up when you’re irritable as hell, then have the balls to take three deep breaths without running away.

Physical postures are just one part of yoga. There’s also meditation, philosophy and a bunch of other stuff. You don’t have to be spiritual, or even a nice person to try—but if you decide to take it seriously, your life will turn upside down. And it will be worth it.

Your shit doesn’t frighten us. So cry if you need to cry, be grumpy if you need to be grumpy. Heaving sobs in a hip stretch? Excellent. I myself mouthed swear words through my first five years of practice.

You look so peaceful in Savasana. You look like you really need a rest.

We will never tell you what we really think of Bikram unless we are drunk.

 

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Asst. Ed: Renee Picard / Ed: Sara Crolick

 

About Alice Williams

Alice Williams is an author and yoga teacher. She teaches hatha yoga, meditation and vinyasa flow, and tutors in media writing. She writes at her blog and procrastinates mightily at @Alicewillalice.

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114 Responses to “Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t). ~ Alice Williams”

  1. Morgan says:

    I loved it! As a yoga teacher who has often felt the pressure to be a 'perfect role model', I found your article funny, refreshing and honest.

  2. ryan85oh says:

    "Wow, yes, do answer your texts during the forward bends. Did you come to yoga to just ‘chill, get some me time, y’know tune in?’ Then start by turning off your mutha-loving phone."

    There are people out there who bring their phones with them in the studio during class? Oh man, not cool! I'd be a sad panda if my studio allowed that.

  3. Ldryder says:

    Like a school teacher who complains about their own students in front of their class, it serves the teachers own emotional needs but they inevitably lose the respect and trust of the class itself and anyone else within earshot. Unfortunate. This is beneath a yogi and their practice…or should be.

  4. Joe Sparks says:

    "Like you, most of us can’t put our foot behind our head. And yet we have the gall to call ourselves yoga teachers. Go figure."
    I liked most of he article except the quote above. Why is putting your foot behind your head of sign that your are a yoga teacher or not? The yoga asana world needs to wake up. Zero benefit putting your foot behind the head, unless you want to do damage to your body. Why would anyone want to teach that unless you want to be a contortionist? Over-stretching the joints is harmful. Is it worth the risk? What is the reward? Please read William Broad's book," The Science of Yoga" and educate yourself. The number priority is safety, to protect our students from hurting themselves.

    • Totally agree. The hardest part of the class is teaching it. Watching the Type A’s forcing the as ana and watching others looking at the clock. Or when I repeat directions for alignment and the peeps I am referring to don’t blink an eye. ..lol

  5. ara lyman says:

    While I can truly identify with a lot of this stuff especially the parts about those who insist upon pushing themselves into advanced postures and thus creating injury, or those I align and they take it as an insult because I’m “pinching their burn” I have found that hey! Ya gotta let it go. Sometimes teaching is the most intense yoga practice of all. Also, let go of the judgement on styles of yoga please? Bikram and flow, with the right teachers… :) can be VERY therapuetic.

    • Yes were not yogi avatars on earth! And my personal faith doesn’t align with most yogi/Hindu theology. But I love yoga and bring it to you the way I seet. No more. No less.

  6. Elizabeth Kumari says:

    LMFAO. I love, love, love this piece. I’ve got 3 yoga teaching certifications, have lived for long periods of time on Ashrams or in other spiritual communities and am as devoted as they come AND I still (more or less openly) smoke, drink, swear, and snark. So far, none of my teachers or Yoga Alliance have wanted to revoke my credentials. What I liked the most about this piece is that it shines light on the truth that we are all imperfect. Teachers AND Students. We need to bring a sense of humor to our practice…

  7. Jill Harper says:

    I Like this piece too. It’s real. I love yoga instructors. Some are grouchy, Some are mysterious, Some are sweet as sugar, some are even pretentious, but all are beautiful. They are trying to be better people, do what they love and help others in there journeys too. What is not to love about them all? I smoke at times, I quit drinking cause I’m an alcoholic, but I show up and that is all that matters to the instructors. Thanks for doing what you do!

  8. Loved this article. It’s raw and honest. Isn’t that what it’s all about. Speaking your truth in love and then letting it go. How others respond is on them.

  9. Terry S. says:

    All this talk of Yoga when 3 quarters of Yoga teachers, including this one, aren't even practicing or teaching Yoga. They are teaching some bastardized version that focuses primarily on asana, the physical postures. In the classical tradition as espoused by Patanjali, Yoga is an 8 limbed science, and asana constitutes a relatively minor role in it. If there is one limb of the science that America is CLEARLY in need of (don't even get me started on Pratyahara) it's the 7th limb, meditation. You can't possibly achieve the 8th limb, (let's call that one enlightenment) without persistent practice of the 7th. So Yoga is not what we're really talking about here. This is pretty much gymnastics…in see through pants.

  10. thislittlelark says:

    LOVE this article. I will be starting a teacher training in a couple of weeks and this honesty resonates and inspires me to continue to feel 100% authentic in my grounded, silly, and balanced (in all peaceful and eccentric ways) life. Kudos to you! If you would ever like to write for "this little lark"'s blog, we'd love to have a guest post from you! :)

  11. Gabisan says:

    my favorite yoga teachers say "if it hurts, don't do it" which is what I follow anyway.

  12. Nathan says:

    Kinda creepy article.
    I don't think these things in class.

  13. Artbymutation says:

    I dont need to be drunk to say what i think about Bikram lol but thats just my personal view. I love yoga and the way it feels but this pretensious crap just makes me want to follow videos at home than deal with all that nom nom ass tay

  14. srichey says:

    Not an instructor, but I have been taking classes for over ten years and these observations are spot-on and funny.

  15. JRM says:

    Is this supposed to be satire??
    There is so much resentment in this article, maybe try communicating your rules and expectations to your students instead of getting so frustrated.

  16. yoga ninja says:

    "We will never tell you what we really think of Bikram unless we are drunk."
    interesting that most of you are assuming that "what we really think of Bikram" would be negative… if we are talking about Bikram the man then probably… but if we are talking about Bikram the style of practice…liquid courage could bring out the truth… it works.

    PS great article!

  17. Megan says:

    I effing loved it. Thanks for your expression that I can relate to as a fellow yoga teacher.

  18. msjudie says:

    Once a year, I met a friend for whiskey and a cigar. Once I asked her if she had ever seen a sunday school director drink. She answered, have you ever seen a yoga instructor that smoked.

  19. AlexFineArts says:

    What about a Yoga session where the instructor plays loud hip-hop music while talking to the students? Do they really pretend that the students can listen and be concentrated at least in the yoga instructor words?
    How do you like a thug yoga instructor that teaches bootcamp style?
    Perhaps try "frying yoga". When the instructor allows the room temperature to rise above 108 Fahrenheit
    Oops! Sorry for mentioning "you know who" without getting drunk. LOL.
    With so many instructor and so many students It is time to offer a match making service. LOL
    Peace.

  20. Sarah says:

    woot woot!

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