July 22, 2013

3 Signs You’re in a Dangerous Yoga Class.

There’s no such thing as a bad yoga class; but there are dangerous ones.

As a yogi, I look at each class as an opportunity to actually “practice” my yoga. This means if I don’t love the teacher, the music, the flow or the style, I remind myself that yoga is a reflection of life.

We learn to find the good, navigate the unpleasant and take care of ourselves in the kindest way possible.

So, while there are no bad yoga classes, here are three signs you’re in a dangerous one:

1.  The teacher doesn’t ask if there’s anyone that would like to skip adjustments today.

This one is a biggie.  There’s history in your body: injuries, soreness and trauma, depending on the day. It’s impossible for a teacher to know each student’s body personally, so asking “Who doesn’t want to be adjusted today?” while having you raise an arm in child’s pose or a leg in downward dog is a sign of an aware teacher.

Starting class without checking in is a sign of carelessness.

2. While adjusting, the teacher moves you into the adjustment quickly and aggressively.  

Adjustments should be done in micro movements (1/8 of an inch, 1/4 inch, etc.) while asking you for feedback every step of the way. I winced as a teacher recently moved my shoulder back two inches quickly and reactivated an old injury. This is a sign of arrogance, lack of good judgement and carelessness.

3. Only demonstrating advanced postures.

I’ve seen a trend of Cirque de Sole esq postures being shown by teachers in classes lately, and while it’s certainly motivating to see what’s possible, not giving alternative modifications, regardless of class level, is irresponsible.

Seane Corn once started a class by taking child’s pose and saying: “This is warrior 4 pose. It’s the most advanced posture you can do because it requires we set our ego aside, and instead listen to our body”.

Our bodies are strong yet vulnerable.

Ultimately the responsibility of staying safe is in our own hands; yet avoiding dangerous classes and finding good teachers allows us to relax…and to me, that’s yoga at it’s best.


 Like elephant yoga on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: The author via Jim Campbell OmLight Photography

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Sattva Dec 1, 2015 1:16am

Nice article, It is a reminder and note for all yoga teachers. Thanks

Trinley Oct 13, 2015 4:42pm

To echo a commenter above, I also agree about avoiding aggressive adjustments but disagree about the need to ask the class as a whole if anyone doesn't want an adjustment. For one, it can be hard to remember who raised their hand/leg if it's a large class. It could also be that the person is concerned about certain adjustments but not others. They may even change their mind as the class progresses. Finally, there is usually more than one way to achieve a goal. If I want to touch someone but I'm not sure if they'd mind, I like to ask directly, "Do you mind if I touch you?" I learned that from Judith Hanson Lasater, to give credit.

Well, I don't agree with the 3rd point either, but I won't get into it. I would replace it with "the instructor talks while doing the poses all or much of the time instead of watching the students."

Austin Sep 25, 2015 2:03pm

We should only adjust the students that we know and only offer simple corrections to the ones we don't know.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

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 and 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 six languages and featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Positively Positive, Yahoo News, The News.com Australia, The Good Men Project, and Yoga Anonymous.