What Your Yoga Teacher Really Thinks about You.

Via Kristin Althea
on Jun 12, 2012
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Want to know how we really feel about you?

You walk into class and maybe your day is still clinging to your thoughts; maybe it’s still registered in your body. Perhaps your mind is entangled with the argument with your spouse, or you’re stressed from coping with your angry boss, and perhaps still frazzled by your child’s decision to smear poop in his hair.

Maybe you’re relieved to be here in class with me, or maybe you’re already sizing up those around you or even yourself to pre-judge what you think your practice will look like that day.

As we begin, maybe you feel sluggish, unfocused, inflexible, and unrooted. Maybe you self-consciously pull your shirt down when it sneaks up in half moon. Maybe you re-fix your hair midway through class, more so because you think it looks too messy instead of it just being in the way. Maybe you feel awkward for being one of the only male/overweight/underweight/(insert other lame self-imposed yoga class criticisms here) bodies in the room.

Hey you. Yes, you. I’ve got news for you.

I think you’re beautiful.


 I think you are beautiful in every single way possible. I think the fact that you showed up today was amazing, and I think when I see you often, showing up and working hard, you’re amazing. You’re amazing when you’re drenched in sweat, even when your shirt moves in all sorts of directions that drive you nuts. You’re amazing when you struggle to find your drishti and then do and have peace. You’re amazing when you try to weasel your way into a pose more deeply and fall out, pushing your edge instead of staying comfortably complacent to keep things copacetic. And maybe you’re most amazing when you honor your body and come down to child pose because you are so connected at that second, you know it’s where you need to be

You are amazing for just being you, for showing up and doing your best to set aside the “humanness” of life, the little frets and worries and aches and pains, to just be present. All I can think of is how humbled I am to have you there in my class, sweating and flowing and occasionally truly breathing and basking in moments of stillness. I’m awed to have your presence with mine, to be fortunate enough to witness your efforts and your spiritual transcendence right in front of me. I’m blown away that I’m the tour guide on today’s journey and you have come to spend the time with me as we explore what is and what will be.

While you are perhaps judging yourself, your practice, your neighbor’s practice, I am only loving on the beautiful energy you bring to class. I’m in adoration of the glowing love that comes forth from you, whether you see it or not, to make this place a sacred space for us all.

Yes, I’m still talking about you.

And I’m not alone. Other teachers feel this way too. We are collectively humbled and honored by your mere existence. Sometimes we tear up at the mere thought that we get to be tour guides on this most magical journey with the most magical people, such as yourself.

We know sometimes life is hectic, but please, keep coming. Keep taking care of yourself from the outside in and the inside out. And we will be here loving you just the same. Every single class.

‘Til next time…






Editor: Brianna Bemel


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About Kristin Althea

Kristin M. Althea, M.Ac., L.Ac., loves to poke and stretch and heal things through the power of 5 Element Acupuncture, Yin Yoga, Qigong, and Chinese Herbs at her practice at Red Lotus Acupuncture Center, LLC. She aims to guide her patients and students on a path to rediscover their own inner journey. Beyond that, her sarcastic yet warm-fuzzy self lives in coastal NC with her adorable pug Jaya and a slew of houseplants. She can be connected to via facebook or via email at kristin [at] redlotusacupuncture [dot] com.


24 Responses to “What Your Yoga Teacher Really Thinks about You.”

  1. lardown says:

    Your words are like those of a benevolent Queen who blesses and loves every person and thing in her kingdom. Namaste.

  2. Awwww, namaste back to you, lardown! <3 Do you teach? It does feel like this, it's such an honor to teach…and I am certain I'm not the only teacher who feels this way!

  3. lardown says:

    I don't teach. I've been in classes where I really sense that the Teacher is in the space that you wrote about… they are the ones that keep me coming back!

  4. I agree completely, those are the best classes. 🙂 My favorites too! Thanks for your comment, it means a lot. <3

  5. Vision_Quest2 says:

    When what was described happens by a yoga teacher, in your yoga class, to an extreme–it's called countertransference.

    It's rare. It's cherished by me. And it's priceless.

    It happened in a non-sweaty, throwback mild hatha class, so some of what was mentioned in the article did not apply to my experience.

  6. melancholy says:

    thank you so much for this… it actually made me cry. as a yoga student who constantly struggles with her confidence and her negative thinking, I tend to think that teachers probably roll their eyes the minute I walk into the studio, so what you wrote here was an extremely sweet and warm insight into a teacher's mind (oh and it's not that I REALLY think my teachers would roll their eyes… otherwise I would probably not come back every single day, it's just my weird mind playing tricks on me and I do know that ;))

  7. Taisa says:

    This is beautiful! I just recently started teaching and this is truly how I feel. Basking and sharing in expansive love, light and sweat together. Thanks for spreading this important and delicious message!

  8. erin crawford says:

    perfect:) well said sista

  9. yogasamurai says:

    Kristen, you sound like a dedicated teacher – but with all due respect it doesn't really matter what the yoga teacher thinks.

    If there weren't "transference" to begin with – which is not essential for learning yoga – there would be no need to worry about whether "counter-transference" has occurred.

    This is largely a "girl" problem – but it's a serious one. Having psycho-therapeutic dynamics occur in a setting where the consumer is often blissfully unaware of what's coming out of them — and the teacher, prone to his or her own heady ego trip, is teaching without a therapeutic license, is a precarious setting.

    Right here, in fact, are the seeds of emotional and psychological abuse – and it's occurring every day in thousands of studios nationwide, and in extreme cases, in entire movements like Dahn Yoga, Anusara Yoga, Forrest Yoga, Michael Roach's Buddhist cult, and the list is growing.

    Frankly, this is one good reason that we need a more professional, therapeutically trained, and accredited yoga teacher corps. That training and credentialing should occur completely outside the commercial and personal "branding" environments of the privately owned studios.

    There's no good reason for the studios at all – not to learn or to study yoga. Zilch. I see most of them like banks or businesses that come in to "prey" on local communities. The real estate industry loves them, because they tend to gentrify neighborhoods right behind the new yoga studio – just as they once did with "magnet" stores.

    Just ask them.

  10. yogasamurai says:

    By the way, I have had some great experiences learning yoga – but definitely not in the studios.

    There's this idea that the studios are where the "real" or the "pure" yoga is being taught, compared to mere "fitness" yoga elsewhere?

    That's studio owner – i.e. small business capitalist – propaganda. It's total nonsense. There's plenty of really bad fitness yoga in the studios, too.

    The best yoga classes I have ever taken were at a local community center — or at the YMCA.

    The studio is where the real creepy weirdness begins – out of the public limelight.

  11. YES!!! This is what keeps me coming back to the mat in front of others is sheer joy at watching people learn and absorb. I don't teach asana heavy classes anymore and sometimes I love my students the most when they open an eye during meditation or look totally lost when discussing philosophy … I love them when they look all relaxed and glassy eyed after nidra…I love that they want to learn and try and be…I love how much they teach me… This was an awesome post — and I am so relieved, I almost didn't click on it because I was afraid of what direction it was going to go…thank you for surprising 🙂

  12. Shamanic_Rite says:

    So, samurai, are you saying that yoga studios have the same function and/or sociological impact as a new Starbucks moving to the area?

    As a bellwether for a gentrifying populace? And being priced out of yet another neighborhood?

    Female living alone as I do, I will not be able to live safely in a much more downmarket neighborhood than I do already; and as it is, it is not the traditional slum-to-gentry transition type neighborhood …

    If so, I am in deep trouble …

  13. Shamanic_Rite says:

    Samurai, with regard to your second comment.

    I think there should be government regulation of yoga.

    I hope that's where you were going with this. I have been burned at the hands of overzealous teachers. I have experienced wonderful teachers, too–the instruction of which made my home practice come alive. But with regulation, you will then see how fast the crackpots scatter to the ends of the Earth ….

  14. Shamanic_Rite says:

    Um, this partially answers my question: http://www.loopnet.com/blog/know-how-to-spot-gent

  15. Yogasamurai & Shamanic_Rite: Thanks for your comments. I see where you are going with this whole thing, I think, and agree to a certain extent. I do. I also think it is up to the students to do their own self work, self practice (the parts of yoga beyond the asanas) to really expand their practice. I try to teach that and hear other teachers doing the same.

    Too, it is also important for teachers to not let egos get the best of them, but rather to continue to teach from the heart and realize that we really are mere tour guides on a journey that is not ours. We are just a part of the experience too. Good teachers don't get caught up in the whole "scene" but keep letting their hearts shine through their teachings and keep working to help others grow.

    I do think yoga is in a funny place at times, caught between being a "machine" which pumps out an image of beauty and serenity versus the truth of inner, more meaningful beauty. There is there is a fine line between people trying to sink into something deeper and people trying to just look better in their matching expensive yogawear. I look at my job, as a teacher, as one of offering students an ability to find a space where they feel comfortable in my class, where they can perhaps learn something physically or emotionally, and hopefully it serves as a spring board which can launch them into a better, deeper version of themselves, wherever that may be. I truly find teaching to be humbling and find it liberating to watch people show up and commit to something greater, and I do my best to keep the vibe as organic as possible. Some people might be coming for the "wrong" reasons (as I feel you allude to) but it is not up to me to bend everyone into what I feel is "right" thinking, rather, to just offer an experience that will hopefully spark some sort of light or "ah ha"-edness in the folks in front of me. I think the best I can do is keep a space where new ideas can be explored, for some people come to the mat for the first time just gaining some semblance of awareness of their bodies and how they feel emotionally and physically. I think home practices are gorgeous things, but groups can be phenomenal. It can be quite empowering for a new yogi to start to open up to themselves in a safe space where that is happening for those around them, too. Learning that it's ok to cry during savasana is beautiful. Power in groups can be had, of course in bad ways but also in positive ways too, I think.

    In my humble opinion, the best teachers don't have a vibe of a particular studio or style, but rather are those who do a lot of self work and teach classes with a humble, empowering attitude. I always aspire to be better, and I think a lot of other teachers do too. I try to pump out love and try to come from a place of true goodness. I appreciate your comments very much, and hope you find some more inspirational teachers in your area and/or continue to develop the most delicious and blissful home practice the world has ever seen! Love to you both.

    ARC, thank YOUUUUUU!!! I love your comments, so so SO very true! It's the best job in the universe to get to be part of the beauty that unfolds in a person's practice. Completely addicting. 🙂 And yes, something that could make a teacher cry beautiful tears of joy. I'm so very glad you clicked on this and commented back with your beautiful words too. Namaste!

  16. yogasamurai says:

    Yes, the Washington Post picked up on this trend early — back in 2006. I first heard about it from realtors I know.

    Key slogan: "Just follow the yoga mats."


  17. Larisa Nikiforova says:

    We need variety, in my personal opinion, so we can choose what yoga teacher and what space( private yoga studio, gym, etc) works for us. How will we know what works without experiencing what doesn't work?

  18. yogasamurai says:

    Definitely – just as it is in other countries, including the yoga motherland, India. It's the only way to consistently protect the public – physically and psychologically – from the active predation of the studios and their teachers — some of it perfectly well intended, and often, consensually agreed to. But when it is branded formally, and given cult status, it's actually quite dangerous.

    Yoga teachers in studios have no inherent or inherited spiritual authority – they are really just asserting it, and hoping everyone plays along. It's really a frightening myth, and sign of just how gullible the American consumer is. The studio is the primary site where the myth of this spiritual authority is marketed and transmitted. You go through one of its teacher training programs, you get your name in lights on its web site, and presto, you must know something. And in the end, it's just a money making deal.

    The really scary thing is how damaged some of these teachers are, and how little life experience they have. Even on its face, the idea that they are "teachers" is patently absurd. Much of the transference that comes from students is feeding these teachers, their egos and in too many cases, their pathologies – and a lot of it occurs under the wire.

    Never underestimate the ability of Americans to bullshit themselves and those around them. P.T. Barnum said it a long time ago: "There's a sucker born every minute." But there are really no victims here – people volunteer for their own abuse, specially when they feel a bit lost and distressed.

    Good wise teachers, though, who weren't seeking their own deep psychic gratification from teaching, would really spot these things early and refer students "out." Spiritual development is about the whole person, and that means many modalities and lines of inquiry beyond the scope of yoga.

    My wisest guide is "Dirty" Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood, who said in Magnum Force: "A man has got to know his limitations." That goes double for American yoga teachers. When was the last time you heard one of these narcissists freely admit that she is broken, limited in her scope, and at best a humble and imperfect servant? Maybe if she were on camera, and thought it might give her even more spiritual "street cred"?

    This is the yoga industry that so many well-intentioned self-seekers want and need – well, now you have it, enjoy!

  19. yogasamurai says:

    By the way, good little noticed article on India's move to regulate yoga. This should be big news – but isn't, of course. It's been in place for quite some time. Iyengar was involved. In America, of course, the attitude is trust the free market. Well, it can't be trusted, not without serious oversight.



    "This recent development in India signals the first official government sanctioning of efforts to regulate the tradition of yoga, and it is appropriate that India, the motherland of yoga, and the Indian government, which has become increasingly aware of the need to protect and preserve its cultural heritage, should take this historical initiative and lay a much needed foundation for establishing a credible standard of yoga education and practice.

    Perhaps more importantly, it is also the first time that representatives from all the major lineages of yoga across India have come together in search of a common regulatory goal.

    This news, however, may not bode so well with yogis around the world. Many practitioners and teachers of yoga might wonder just what this means for yoga, their current status as teachers and institutions, and their various yoga practices. It may be too early to tell, but the IYA is already feeling pressure by those who feel that their approach to yoga may be compromised by any standardization."

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