In Praise of Yoga Classes that Suck.

Via Ricardo das Neves
on May 23, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

Finding inspiration is an elusive thing.

…A walk, a great book, a conversation with a friend who’s a bona fide genius, the biography of someone filled with passion — all of these provide uplift not just for living but also for our yoga practice.

A new acquaintance lent me a CD of his music. I had it around for a couple of days before playing it, and when I did this morning, it blew me away! What mastery in his playing! What fantastic voice! We’re not talking Joe Blow Plays the Kazoo here, we’re talking world-class acoustic guitar in classical, folk, and world styles that upon hearing, I felt so inspired that it made me want to go out and teach a kick-butt yoga class. (With my apologies to Patanjali and all the masters for perpetuating the popular tendency of putting “yoga” next to “kick butt” or its uncouth twin.)

So yes, obviously, when in the face of Art with in the upper case, we feel in awe, inspired, capable of reaching for new heights — in life and in yoga. I don’t need to tell you that. You also know that when you take a yoga class that’s truly magic, the inspiration lives on in you beyond the class. All of these things are no-brainers.

What I’d like to turn your attention to is the oft-overlooked inspirational possibilities of a yoga class that truly sucks. You know, when you go somewhere else other than your usual studio; or when it seeks you out in the form of a substitute; and either way you have the sneaking suspicion that this person would make a more compelling tax accountant than a yoga instructor.

Instead of rolling up your mat and leaving, embrace this suck-ness with gusto, relishing in the knowledge that as soon as it’s over, it’s over, and man, are you going to be happy to do your regular yoga again!

Isn’t it true? If you’d had your regular yoga class, would you be more or less likely to practice again in a couple of days? Methinks less. But not so with A Yoga Class That Truly Sucks! That one, when you walk out of there, has enough energy to propel you for at least a week of regular yoga practice and some mindful daytime meditation thrown in for good measure.

And it need not stop there.

Next time you have a bad day, you lose your keys, your boss yells at you, or your teenager get arrested for something bone-headed, you can think, “Boy, yoga is going to feel really, really great tonight!” and delight in the fact that at least you’re finding inspiration where before there was just a sucky experience.

My only request is if you decide to venture out of your comfort zone and locate a class that truly sucks… and if I’m the one teaching that class… you don’t come up and tell me, “You’ve inspired me to practice like mad… somewhere else.” Just remember that what to some might seem like a sucky class, to others it appears like the pinnacle of yogic enjoyment.



About Ricardo das Neves

Ricardo das Neves is the author of Unenlightened: Confessions of an Irreverent Yoga Teacher, and is occasionally known to tweet (@spirithumor). See more VISUAL YOGA BLOGS here. When he’s not trying to be funny, he acts very serious teaching yoga classes in and around Seattle. Subscribe to future VISUAL YOGA BLOGS here. Connect with him on Google+


9 Responses to “In Praise of Yoga Classes that Suck.”

  1. swati jr* says:

    my daily, home practice got really good living in Houston!

  2. Gotta admit, at the risk of sounding uncharacteristically pollyanaish…or like I'm trying to kiss up to my yoga teacher friends who might be reading this…out of probably around a thousand yoga classes I've been to, I can't think of any that really sucked. Certainly, there have been some where the shitty state of mind I walked in with failed to dissipate as much as I might have hoped, and a few when my hearing was somewhat impaired due to an ear infection and the teacher was speaking in that really-spiritual-or-something-barely-above-a-whisper yoga teacher voice so that I couldn't understand a word she was saying, as well as a couple where I hurt myself (though generally because I was in macho/competitive mode and ignoring what the teacher said about listening to my body), but those were generally sucky because of what I brought to them…and, let's face it, I could probably make any yoga class suck if I really tried…

  3. Yogini5 says:

    I have been to one class that really, really sucked and I walked out in the middle of it and did not return to it that day. This was embarrassing to me at the time, because my superstar pilates teacher was diagonally across from me, taking the same class. It did nothing for or against my home practice. I had a chance to take with the same teacher after the worst day at work ever … and it was okay! I stayed for the entire class that time, though I would never return. In the back of my mind, when I can tell a yoga teacher – or a tag-team of teachers can't help but teach a sucky class, the fear of vamoosing in the middle of class is still in the back of my mind …

  4. Annie Ory says:

    Hmmm. So you're saying if a yoga teacher sucks don't say anything? That seems needlessly cautious to me. As a teacher I want to be told what people like and dislike about my class. I may not change anything, especially if I don't care for the person, then I know how to keep "people like that" away. But if I hear from enough people that something needs to change, then it's information I need as a teacher. Not, of course, the yoga postures, but something in my voice, my focus, my energy, my timing, my instruction (what were you talking about when you said thread your hand through your left ear and cover your eye with your tongue…?). We are professionals who take people's money to TEACH them yoga and I think it's important for us to be open to feedback…

  5. long wigs says:

    yoga is nice to our life. I have taken course before.

  6. Too funny. Having experienced 'sucky' yoga classes I know exactly what you mean. I trully appreciate my first teacher now knowing how amazing she was. At the time I thought all classes were that good – not so. Finding a great teacher often takes some investigating and experiencing amazingly horrific classes until you find a good fit. And then, the teacher moves or studio changes ownership and you get to start the process all over again.

  7. ARCreated says:

    suck-ness is a perfect time to practice acceptance 🙂 brilliant piece!!

  8. Sadie Curo says:

    I wonder if you’d be wiling to tell me where you got this them from?