Yoga Teachers, Here’s What Your Students Really Want.

Via Tamara Star
on May 29, 2011
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1. Because most of the time we’re being critical of our own bodies in front of the mirror, it’s a relief when you turn us away from them.

2. We’re so grateful for the peace that finally comes to us after Savasana, please don’t advertise your studio announcements or your class offerings at the end of class. We would love to hear about these at the start of class.

3. Please offer modifications without the preface of “if you have back, neck, etc problems.”  We don’t like being reminded that we have an issue.  Just the modification please.  Consider “if you need to protect your neck” or “if your neck isn’t feeling up to this”.

4. We love it when you let us see the real you.  Your humanness is what keeps us coming back.

5.  No one enjoys super loud music in a yoga class ~ no one. Oommph, Oommph, Oommph is for the gym, not yoga.  We want to hear your cues.

6.  We always appreciate a spritz of essential oil or a stick of incense after your prior class.  Walking into a stinky room isn’t a great way to start a yoga class.

7.  Please breathe with us. When you rush our breaths, we lose our practice.

8. Remind us all to hold our drishti. There is nothing worse than being stared at in class and it’s always a relief when you remind students to hold their own drishti.

9. Please offer modifications in both directions, harder and easier. It makes for a welcoming class for all levels.

10. When you remind us at the beginning of class that the most advanced students know when to take child’s pose and don’t let their egos run their practice, it gives us all permission to rest when we need it.

11. Always remember that we’re all grateful for the gift of your class. We know you’re not making millions teaching and you really do make a difference in all of our lives.


~photo by Yoga shot by Ambro


About Tamara Star

Tamara Star believes happiness is not an end destination, but instead the ability to see the ordinary through eyes of wonder. Want her free tips and tricks for health, happiness and love? Click here. Receive her free 3 video series for clearing the slate for more love & happiness. Click here. She's an international best-selling author and the creator of the original 40-day Personal reboot program for women--a 6 week virtual deep dive into clearing the slate on what's blocking you. Registration is open NOW here. Tamara's global reach inspires women around the world through her programs, newsletters, and teachings. She's been featured on SiriusXM radio, Good Morning America, former Oprah producer LeGrande Green's GetBOLD radio, Dr. Brenda Wade's GoodLove Radio, Daybreak USA and News Australia. Connect with Tamara on her websiteFacebook or Twitter. Tamara's work had been translated into 6 languages and featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Positively Positive, Yahoo News, The Australia, The Good Men Project, and Yoga Anonymous.


45 Responses to “Yoga Teachers, Here’s What Your Students Really Want.”

  1. #2 This should be #1, 2, 3 & 4!!
    #5 Sometimes the Yoga Rave is fun!
    #11 Yes, love, gratitude, MUCH!

  2. patriciayogini says:

    What is 'house' music?

  3. yoga-adan says:

    some really good points (show modifications in both directions) and some assertions as assuming as those they portend to say "never" to 😉

  4. Joy says:

    Sometimes I like to be reminded that going full bore into a pose may not be the best thing for me regarding certain issues, one of the beautiful thing about taking someone else’s class is that I don’t have to worry about sequencing but just flow with their direction… Just a thought 🙂 I appreciate not wanting to single people out for their uncomfortable tweaks though.


  5. NotSoSure says:

    electronic dance music characterized by a very, very, very heavy bass drum hit on every downbeat.

  6. househead says:

    i like house music to go with my yoga practice. i don't like krishna das or norah jones or coldplay, though.

  7. Vanita says:

    I agree with almost all of these.. especially #2 – not sure about the modification one, though. How does one know the modification applies if there is no information as to what the modification is for? Particularly beginners.

  8. Kristen says:

    I couldn't agree with #5 more – I don't really want any super fast or loud music in a yoga class. I find it more agitating than anything (kinda the total opposite reason for coming to yoga class in the first place). Thanks for sharing!

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Candice Jones Definitely disagree with the point about music. I'd love to hear house, gospel, and hip hop. I love the "yoga" music, but some upbeat music, esp during an intense power yoga class, would be nice sometime. If I have to tolerate the indie girl rock/pop, why can't I get some music with which I can better identify?
    4 hours ago via Facebook Mobile · LikeUnlike · 2 people2 people like this.
    # Certainly Candice. Any music that effects positivity or aids relaxation in whatever way, has to be good 🙂
    4 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    # ‎~Tobye.
    4 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Daniela Vasquez My favorite is #5… completely agree
    4 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading…
    # See this is the way differences of opinion go…. Candice wants music, Daniela and Tamara hate music during class. Now Tamara says; "No one enjoys “house” music in a yoga class ~ no one. Oommph, Oommph, Oommph is for the gym, not yoga." Which is completely wrong! It would've been better for her to write; "some people would rather practice in silence, don't just assume everyone wants to hear music." ~Tobye.
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Candice Jones And I like silence too! Honestly, even for those of us who enjoy music, our opinions on what we want to hear can vary from class to class.
    3 hours ago · UnlikeLike · 2 peopleLoading…
    Adan Lerma looks like the comments have it covered: nice list, some great points, and some that, though presented as something concrete and 100%, are just an alternative opinion – but the good points are "good" 😉 just my opinion 😉
    2 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Tara Giese
    About music… As a teacher, I tried for a year to come up with the 'perfect' playlist. I LOVED going to the classes that seemed to be paired PERFECTLY to having one of my favorite songs in horse pose to distract my pissed off thighs in th…at moment. But I have have tried to drizzle music in my classes I realized how different we ALL are. I teach with with fluctuation in my voice and get SO excited about what we are doing when we are doing it, that I realized having the 'perfect' song was more of a distraction for me. My 'ego' wanted fancy fun music. My soul felt most at peace with the soft 'yoga' type music. I soon realized as a teacher, my voice, energy and willingness to be lead by how my students move was the composition of my class ♥ Thanks for this list! Love to hear these things 🙂

  10. tamara says:

    loud music

  11. Tamara says:

    yes indeed. i switched that to loud music…. 🙂

  12. Tamara says:

    ah yes. I definitely misspoke there!~ Switched it to loud music. 🙂

  13. Tamara says:

    hmm, how about "to protect your neck, back etc"?

  14. Tamara says:

    Oh boy, did I learn a lesson here~ Yes, you're all right.. Some do like house music. How about this? Loud music. We want to hear your cues! 🙂 Thanks everyone. I should know by now to never say "no one likes".
    Happy Memorial Day. Thank you for reading!

  15. please NO NO NO incense. So unhealthy in an enclosed space. First of all many of us do not appreciate breathing in smoke; And secondly, it is usually chemically-created artificial scents.
    And music? that's really only for people who aren't skilled enough to be with their own inner selves. Those of us who go inside don't even notice the music. Just don't let the music compete with your cuing. The best classes have no music, anyway.

  16. dave says:

    Yup! I need some upbeat music with my yoga. house, minmal electronic. and it doesn't have to be loud. that's volume control folks

  17. Dave says:

    Some people assume all yoga poses are good for whatever injury they have so if it is not made clear that a modification is necessary in the case of an injury then the wrong information is being transmitted.

  18. callrespiratory says:

    I'm gonna argue with the music thing already. Part of yoga practice is sensory isolation: drishti = vision, hearing your breath, feeling the pose itself… Listening to music distracts from the practice. I feel it is more important to listen to my breathing and the instructor than to have there be pleasant music to distract.

  19. Danielle says:

    I love these, except that some people are allergic to incense. My eyes swell shut. I would leave before class even started if I came into a room reeking of incense!

  20. Monique says:

    It's interesting to hear how intensely people react to the music question. Music is an important part of the practice for some, and silence/pratyahara is central for others. I really wish people wouldn't say things like, "the best classes have no music." The best classes for YOU have no music. If you don't like a teacher's music (or volume, or modifications), just go find another teacher. Don't bitch to her about it. Be a big girl/boy and try a new class. Teaching yoga is like the old Mexican fable about the stew. If you keep taking out ingredients every time someone doesn't like something, pretty soon all you're left with is water.

  21. yogiclarebear says:

    Big CHEERS to your list!!! As a teacher, I have a few points to make as well…not discounting your points at all, just adding on/offering my perspective.

    “Please offer modifications without the preface of “if you have back, neck, etc. problems.” We don’t like being reminded that we have an issue. Just the modification please.” –There are ways to offer the modifications and the REASONS without using words such as “problems.” Sometimes people need to hear WHY they might want to try another option. The truth is, many people are just not aware of their own body situations and I think it is part of my job to offer suggestions that might enhance a student’s practice based on what I see in their movement and such, and a lot of times that means telling them directly why, without the negativity.

  22. yogiclarebear says:

    “We always appreciate a spritz of essential oil or a stick of incense after your prior class. Walking into a stinky room isn’t a great way to start a yoga class.” –A stinky room sucks no doubt! But I’ve had students who have been extremely sensitive to spritzes and incense, even allergic to the natural oils that I’ve used. We have to be sensitive to those smells as well as the stinks…

  23. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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  24. Yogini5 says:

    Let me explain:

    A good teacher knows better than to assume that I will up-tweak a pose (as they might suspect a home practitioner does … we are not all acrobats or contortionists, we are just tightly scheduled, tightly budgeted – or just tightly wound – regular people)

    A good teacher lets me slip in accessible core work here and there, such as pilates-ish moves to my down-dog because maybe I can't do some of the challenge poses that might effect the same feelings and benefits, such as wheel or headstand … or even a side plank that has only ONE side-of-foot resting on the floor (the other kind of side plank–the kind I'd learned from gym yoga–is actually taken from either pilates or street dance) …

    A good teacher knows not to adjust me roughly, thinking they might open up my wallet-channel, and I might spring for a private.
    It worked only once.

  25. Tamara says:

    Great points on incense….and the biggest point of all? We can't please everyone! 🙂
    Loving the conversation, deep bow to those that teach.

  26. Tamara says:

    I'm sorry, i'm not following your comment at all..??

  27. Tamara says:

    love it…you are so right

  28. Tamara says:

    thank you. yes, great point.

  29. Maria says:

    Good article, interesting to read the comments also. .
    Query: When you say "students" do you mean long term students or those who are just beginning to learn yoga? I'm curious, because as a student moves from being a total beginner, to one that has practised over a longer period. this list will change.
    Re #6: as a teacher, and as as student; no-one likes a stinky room, tis true. but incense can be very strong for some people – the whiff of Nag Champa for some is enough to induce a severe coughing fit.

  30. Tamara says:

    Hi Bob,
    Who edited this? I really am uncomfortable with anyone adding sentences to my writing…someone added "advice to yoga teachers" and that is not at all what I was doing here…i wouldn't dare give advice, i'm not in a place to do that….Please pass it along..
    Thank you

  31. Tamara says:

    Gotcha and agree on bad. Thank you for reading. When I say students, i mean everyone…we're all beginners everytime we're on our mat. xo

  32. I didn't change it. Please see my Facebook message. Thanks, Bob

  33. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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  34. I am not a fan of loud music in yoga — house or otherwise. But living in the trendy yoga mecca of San Francisco, it's pretty clear that a LOT of people do like loud house music and thumping base beats along with their asana. The most popular teachers in this city consistently play really loud music all the time. I'd venture to say it's a selling point, regardless of the fact that a few of us don't like it.

  35. Tamara says:

    yep, i agree. outnumbered! lol I still want to hear the cues though! 🙂

  36. La Sirena says:

    Glad I read through the comments before posting my own. I totally agree: NO NO NO incense. It is more harmful than cigarette smoke (proven fact), and sets off my asthma within one inhale, not to mention stinging eyes. A spritz of essential oil, yes!

  37. Tamara says:

    Thank you for reading Kristen~

  38. Tamara says:

    I've definitely learned my lesson there Danielle!

  39. […] Yoga Teachers, Here’s What Your Students Really Want. […]

  40. lee says:

    Start on time, don't wait for late comers. End on time. Learn how to time a class and stop trying to cram in 3 more poses before savasana.

  41. brianwilliamsyoga says:

    Thank you!

  42. Bob says:

    incense is not great, but careful with the judgements about music. There is no competition – "only for people who aren't skilled enough to be with their own inner selves" – isn't that the point of a yoga practice, to get better at this?

  43. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Yes, please GOD no incense. Can we just move on from this and grow the eff up? We are not in the sixties anymore. I am allergic. I was at Yoga Journal's Colorado conference, I paid nearly $1,000 for the weekend, and they are burning incense in the room which causes my lungs to close. If you think smoking is harmful, inhaling second hand incense smoke is the same thing. Read my blog on this if you are not so sure.