December 16, 2010

Competitive Yoga? Or Why it’s not “The Big Show.” ~ Kelly Dobbs

Is yoga teacher bashing a form of competition? I’m so over the “yoga teacher bashing,” ok maybe it’s not bashing, it’s criticizing—I’m over that too, or is it vocalizing/feedback—that too.  I could just be too sensitive.  So here’s the thing.

photo courtesy Ron Sombilon

Competition—The Great Dual.

I’m freelancing at a studio, building my practice. Having a good time, connecting with students, getting into the flow; when so completely out of the flow, another teacher repeatedly accost me the minute I walk out of the door from class and ask rather loudly what I did in class. Once, twice, three times—this was competition.

Ya know, I’m all for competition, good ole old fashion competition. I love 60’s, 70,’s 80’s hit ‘em hard football (not diggin’ new NFL rules and fines about tackles), want to win, hit ‘em hard.  Hockey—what’s a great hockey game without a brawl? It’s mandatory to have a “sticks-in-the-air-puck-flying-brawl;” the players are so passionate about winning, that’s the nature of the game.

I’ve competed in many a sport (track and field, swimming, gymnastics, competitive bodybuilding) and I am quite good at most, bring it…

“I cudda been a contenda,”—Olympics that is.

And I was a good competitor, gracious. Not that everyone has “to do like I do.” If I thought some call was unfair, I’d let a Serena-Williams-rant fly out my mouth.

Passion; win, win, win.  It’s the nature of competition.

The concept of competition in yoga, completely throws me though.  After tumbling up and down the competitive corporate ladder, yoga teaching is my second season, my Divine raison d’etre.  Listen with my physical acumen, it is what is, right? I am yoga hear me roar. I’m always telling my students, this is non-competitive, non-judgmental, this is not simon-sez.  The biggest compliment to me is other teachers taking my class.  If there’s feedback, after class, quietly and respectfully, give your comments.

Yoga is not Monday Night Football, it’s not “the Big Show.”

Why act out in front of e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y?

For this teacher, this was pure competition.  It changed my whole perspective about this teacher and about the studio.  I’m no longer associated with that studio and have upped my awareness in reviewing the culture of a studio before I engage and agree to teach with them. And to all, what I will call obnoxious-loud-insecure yoga teachers, put this in your flow playlist rotation-Otis Redding’s “Try a little Tenderness.”

Competition-Yoga Teacher on Yoga Teacher Bashing.

I’m tweeting with a teacher and we call each other bad-ass rock stars. We connected, we’re having a “love teaching yoga” fest on Twitter, flaunting our pseudo yoga hubris; maybe because we had a couple of great classes “rocked it like rock stars do,” or great practices ourselves. This did go on for some tweets through the span of what —I don’t know—about 3 to 4 days, a week maybe.

Next thing I see is a tweet from a third party about how they are so over yoga teachers calling themselves rock star “bad-asses,” when there’s probably nothing really “rock starish” about them.

Ok, we drilled it in the ground.  But, ya know, to criticize someone’s use of language to describe the incredibleness of the experience on the mat, what’s up with that?  Move on to the next tweet.  Is that sensitivity on my part, insecurity and/or judgment on third parties part, or competition on third parties part?  Are they calling us out or what, in a passive aggressive way? Maybe that comment wasn’t even referring specifically to our tweets. See here I go being a “bad~ass.”

How would you know, if you’ve never been in either class? Why would you care whether someone refers to themselves as a “rock star?”  Sly Stone says “everybody is a star….everybody wants to shine.” Even pseudo hubristic yoga teachers.

Competition or just plain ole’ Bashing – Students on Yoga Teacher Bashing.

Then the next thing I know, I see a tweet from a teacher reflecting on the class and a comment a student made after class. The music was too loud, one student commented. So what do you do? Turn down the music to accommodate the one? The feedback from others in the class was great. Sure everyone gets to have their opinion, but do they get to bash you and tell you your class could have been better if the music wasn’t so loud? There may not be any competition in this scenario, there’s enough bashing though.

I had a response tweet …I received a round of applause after class, however, one student couldn’t wait to jump up and get out the door, indicating to me they did not share in the exuberant zen. I don’t think they were brave enough to give me individual feedback alone after a round of applause. So the next best thing, jump up, be the first one out, wait make sure I see you and give a little huff. Made me feel like–you know, the boat scene in Funny Lady, where Barbra Streisand’s character Fanny Brice is singing at the top of her lungs… “Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade.”

Yoga is not an Olympic sport–Yet!

Ease up on all the critiquing and bashing and manipulating the class to how you think it should be.

Open up to the experience, give yourselves the opportunity to expand beyond what you think it “should be,” let yoga teachers teach.

Every teacher at every level has something great to offer. Whether it be  letting go of the day, smiling a lot more, or rocking you out in a class. Get a little deeper into your breathe work to stop all your mind chattering judgment, let the river flow—that’s Carly Simon (what can I say “I love music”).

Ya gotta flow before you glow.

And even if you want to make it competitive, the best competitors “shut-up” to learn the game first, to be great.

Honor yourselves, honor the teacher, Honor the Divine within.

Kelly Dobbs, a holistic promoter of health awareness and successful yoga instructor, currently in a masters program in psychology with a concentration in health and wellness. She shares a deepening yoga practice with dynamic flows that quiets the mind, relieves stress and anxiety and opens the heart and mind to profound awareness and greater joys.

Practicing yoga for over 12 years, Kelly has personally experienced profound strength, relief from back pain, emotional balance from depression and a deeper connective love between the mind, body and Spirit.

From her entire history of physical gifts, she feels called to continue and share with others the joys and benefits of developing their faith walk and yoga practice to live a balanced life.

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