April 8, 2011

7 Reasons I Could Never Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Sara Bruskin

Photo: Beau Hooker

Never ever ever ever.

I did actually attend a yoga teacher certification program several years ago. I was excited to guide people in a practice I was passionate about, and a teaching certification would enable me to substitute in my mom’s yoga classes when her injury was acting up.

Then I realized why this idea sucked.

1)  Yoga terrifies me, sometimes.

In one particular yoga class last week, I was happily arched over a block in supported bridge posture. Then the instructor told us to lift our legs straight up in the air—the legs that were attached to the feet that were contentedly planted on the floor; lifting them would leave nothing to support my hips but a narrow, wobbly block. As I raised my legs, I kept imagining the sickening crack of my tailbone hitting the hardwood floor if I so much as sneezed.

The only thing that kept me sane during this mini freak out was the thought that our yoga instructor probably knew what he was doing. Despite my nervous discomfort with the pose, I held it because I figured the teacher knew his class was safe. I figured he knew that a fall of less than one foot would not faze my tailbone. I figured he would keep me out of harm’s way.

If I were in his position, I would hate knowing that my students had that much confidence in me.

The pressure of being in charge of others’ bodies is more than I could handle. I’m barely comfortable being in charge of my own body. Not only would the pressure of being a yoga teacher break me in half, but paranoid people are not very good at inspiring calmness and relaxation in others.

2)  The Sex Goddess.

Have you ever been in a bar, and heard a woman say that she’s a yoga teacher? There’s always one guy who nods his head in a knowing way and goes, “niiiiiiiiiiiice.” Telling others that you’re a yoga teacher seems akin to telling them that you’re great in bed. While that doesn’t sound like a bad assumption, it’s really not the first thing I want people picturing when I introduce myself.

Despite the many things that yoga instructors are capable of, this fixation with sexual aptitude overshadows them all. It doesn’t help that there are dozens of photos and videos featuring sexy, bikini-clad yoga teachers wearing high heels, of all things, as they demonstrate their superhuman flexibility. Popular entertainment has also encouraged the sexpot image of yoga instructors.

Dialogue in an episode of How I Met Your Mother, in which Barney attempts to turn down an attractive “hippy”:


Photo: lululemon athletica

Barney: “Dear Female, Thank you for your interest in Barney Stinson. I regret to inform you that at this time, there are currently no positions available.”

Nora: “I’m a yoga instructor. Every position is available.”

Many people carry around preconceived notions of female yoga teachers as tantric sex goddesses who bend themselves into impossibly erotic positions.

Maybe this is true of some yoginis, but I still don’t want the mention of my profession to elicit creepy mental images.

3)  Lululemon. Enough said.

Yoga clothes are absurdly expensive. Considering a yoga teacher’s salary, it would be quite a…stretch…trying to keep myself fully clad in yoga-appropriate attire. I own exactly one pair of yoga pants. Students would get super tired of seeing them, and I refuse to buy more. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they finally rip.

Of course, there’s always the option of breaking out of the prAna realm, and just finding some cheap, stretchy stuff to wear.

Or simply say, “I’m going to wear the same pants every day, and my students can deal with it. If they misbehave, I’m going to stop washing them too.”

4)  Mindful Meditation.

While leading Savasana, I would always be pretending that the class is my army of zombies, getting ready to rise from the dead. It’s actually hard to understand how any yoga teacher doesn’t think about that, considering Savasana means “corpse pose.” When the students would all start to creakily rise from their mats, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold back the nefarious laughter.

This may not sound terribly disruptive or problematic, but most vegetarian students are opposed to incorporating brains into their daily diets.

5)  Chaturanga on blue!

Fitness classes in general have always struck me as odd games of Simon Says in which nobody ever loses. The teacher gives an instruction, and the masses follow. Freely given power over obedient students would be entirely too easy to abuse, and the potential for competitive shenanigans too great to pass up.

Photo: Peter Taylor

My yoga classes would degenerate into chaotic games of Twister. You have to race to the right color before you can start any given asana. Last person to complete five reps loses and has to sit in the corner until they catch the dodgeball. The potential awesomeness of these classes outweighs the safety hazards.

I realize this ambition contradicts my mentality in Reason #1, but that’s ok. Hypocrisy is good for you.

While this practice could be valuable in its own right, it could not be called yoga. The competitive element, mixed with encouragement of speed over proper alignment and safety stands in blatant disregard of many yogic teachings.

6)  7:00 p.m. yoga class = 4:00 p.m. dinner.

I am completely unwilling to plan my meals around yoga. As much as I love evening yoga classes, my stomach is the law in this town, and if it’s hungry 15 minutes before class, it’s getting fed.

I will then either skip yoga altogether, or attempt some of the postures while deep in a food coma, and spend most of the class in child’s pose.

Okay for a lazy student, not so okay for the teacher.

7)  There’s no beating Mom’s cooking.

My mom is a yoga teacher, and I would have a hell of a time living up to her example. It’s been nearly five years since I’ve lived close enough to attend her classes on a regular basis, and in that time, not a single yoga teacher has surpassed her in my mind. I know I’m being ridiculously biased and slightly bratty, but I refuse to concede that any yogi or yogini is better at teaching yoga than my mom.

To put this in clear perspective, I took a class from Seane Corn (an absolute rock star among yoga teachers), and while it was amazing, I still came out missing my mom’s teaching.

If Seane Corn can’t even measure up, I think it’s best that I leave the yoga to my mom.


Sara Bruskin recently graduated from the University of Colorado, and is working as an intern for Colorado Common Cause, and elephantjournal.com.

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