Accuracy & Inaccuracy in Yoga Practice: It’s all About Perception. ~Kelly Larisey

Via elephant journal
on Jan 23, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

Although I am very “green” in teaching yoga, being a part of the yoga scene over the past 5 years, I have overheard teachers walking out of their classes, saying, “I’m just not sure how that went…”

Last night, I had my first experience not knowing if my students enjoyed the class I taught. As students sauntered out of the studio, I asked for feedback, and they said, “Oh, that was nice, thank you.”

As an “ego-less” yoga teacher, I wanted to think that their feedback had nothing to do with me. I taught my class just like all of my other classes, but as a normal human being (along with that comes the thought that everything revolves around me) I thought, if my yoga class was bad, it was obviously my fault.

I can’t help but think that I was the one who caused the less-than-par class. Did I forget to weave in the bits of yogic philosophy along with my asana instruction? Maybe I didn’t give it my all, maybe I wasn’t present, maybe I wasn’t in the right space, or maybe I was tired…

Reflection after reflection, I began to spin my thoughts and rehash my class, wondering where I went wrong.

After saying goodnight to my students, I got in my car and began to drive home. The entire drive, my mind was racing with thoughts of how the class I taught could have been better. My mind went so far as, “Will any of those students come back to another class of mine?” I chalked it up to being a combination of multiple things, but didn’t beat myself up over it.

Youth Radio

As I laid my head on my pillow that night, my mind went directly back to my class and my less than positive thoughts about how it went.

I didn’t give it too much thought, just a bit of reflection and awareness.

In yoga, we are taught how to live a life that includes vairagaya, or non-attachment, learning to let go of the many attachments that we have – especially those of the mind.

With that being said, everything isn’t about me….there are many other factors that contributed to me walking out of class and feeling almost empty, that I didn’t give my students my full, authentic self.

Was this a case of pramana (accurate perception) or viparyaya (inaccurate perception)?

In pramana, our mind gathers information from all of our senses, processes this information as accurately as possible and this becomes our perception, our reality – although this perception/reality might be different from others, it is a valid view of the circumstance.

In viparyaya, our mind gathers information from all of our senses, processes this information, but something gets lost during the processing. We may have perceived everything “correctly”, but our experiences from the past (karma and samskara) are hindering our emotions and we are unable to look at this experience from a grounded point of view.

My experience at class that night was probably a combination of both pramana and viparyaya – parts of my thought process were accurate, and parts were inaccurate. Isn’t this how we move through life?


Kelly Larisey is a yoga teacher at The Little Yoga Studio in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. She has been practicing yoga for the last six years. While Kelly was attending graduate school for counseling and guidance, she found the transformative effects of her yoga practice greatly benefit her work with students. She immediately enrolled in a year-long yoga teacher training program to weave together her two passions. Finishing both her Master’s and her RYT 200 in July, 2010, Kelly and her husband relocated to Boulder to immerse themselves in the Boulder lifestyle of mindfulness, sustainability, and outdoor recreation. Kelly’s yoga practice has helped her maintain balance, peace, and calmness. Her love of yoga is contagious – she enjoys spreading the yoga love! Feel free to contact her at [email protected]!



About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? Send to [email protected]


3 Responses to “Accuracy & Inaccuracy in Yoga Practice: It’s all About Perception. ~Kelly Larisey”

  1. ValCarruthers says:

    It's far from uncommon, Kelly, for teachers to hit that wall of uncertainty around how a particular class came off. That persistent sense of something being out of sync that we just know everybody could feel. I've certainly had my days over the ten+ years that I've been teaching. Yet the surprise is when, at the end of one of those "off" classes, a student will come up with glowing eyes and a big smile and thank me. Chalk it off to viparyaya–as one of my teachers always says, you don't really know. The key is not to beat yourself up, send the love to yourself too and keep on truckin. Because yes, that is how we move through life, until viveka, discernment, helps us to see life more clearly.

  2. agurvey says:

    Kelly, I thought this was a wonderful article, but I feel like it is incomplete. As a yoga teacher, I totally understand the feelings of wondering if you taught a good class, or if your students liked it or not, in addition to the ambiguity of not really knowing if you reached people. As egoic as it may be, I think many of us, as teachers of yoga, struggle with this. I loved how you defined the areas of perception, but I would have loved to have read more about what you have done since that class and what you have done to work with those feelings beyond the diagnosis. Since I struggle with the same things, I would love to read about how you have handled it since. I know there is no panacea for how to deal with feelings of inadequacy or the ego, but it is always nice to know that we are not alone in our pursuit to be better students, human beings and teachers. Thank you for this article. ~Andrew

  3. Kelly Larisey says:

    Love this! The best gift a student can give us as teachers is that after-yoga glow, smiling from ear to ear to thank us. You are right, we never really know – it is important to reflect and grow from that challenging experience and then move on, showering yourself in love!