Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t). ~ Alice Williams

Via A.V. Williams
on Aug 28, 2013
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Despite what every ill-informed medical professional tells you, not all yoga is good.

Bonus: Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.

Ha! There, I said it.

Just had a vertebra removed/hernia operation/six months pregnant and your doctor told you ‘yoga might help?’ Then this Power class is for you.

When we say ‘notice any intense feelings in this pose and let them go,’ we mean ‘Stop looking at me like I’m Hitler.’

Please don’t giggle when we say ‘perineum.’ Just think about the muscles of the pelvic floor: how would you describe them?

You in the back, who keeps checking your mobile phone, see the way you’re jamming your arms straight, crunching your lower back and throwing your head back? You know how your mouth was moving before? We’re saying ‘don’t do that.’

Can’t do yoga because you’re not flexible? We admire you more than you realise just for turning up. Having said that, if you insist on contorting your body into the most advanced version of every pose ‘cause that’s real yoga,’ then send my love to your chiropractor.

Like you, our Chakras aren’t always aligned. But when you’ve had a bad day, chances are you can hide behind your computer. When we’ve had a bad day we have to pray like a mother*** that we can let it go before our 5:30 class.

Twenty percent of yoga teachers came to yoga through anger management problems, 10 percent through injury rehabilitation, and the rest of us are raging control freaks trying to keep it in check.

Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what is going on in your knee, shoulder, pinkie toe. Here’s a tip, if something’s really pinching, don’t do it.

If we drone on about ‘respecting others,’ it’s only because the two girls catching up on gossip in the back row are giving us the shits. That or we’re trying to tell the lady behind you that covering up her hastily smoked Marlboro Lights with lashings of J-Lo’s Dream isn’t working.

Sure, we see you as a ‘whole person, beautiful in your completeness,’ but when you step onto the mat, we also see you as a collection of joints that are in or out of alignment. So when we manually adjust your pose, we’re really just helping you to align, not trying to pinch your bum.

Wow, yes, do answer your texts during the forward bends. Did you come to yoga to just ‘chill, get some me time, y’know tune in?’ Then start by turning off your mutha-loving phone.

We don’t like it when you leave before Savasana, for the same reason that Jamie doesn’t like you taking your lemon chicken out of the oven ten minutes early: you’re undercooked. And also, it’s really rude.

No one cares what you wear. Having said that, those leggings are more see-through than you think.

Like you, most of us can’t put our foot behind our head. And yet we have the gall to call ourselves yoga teachers. Go figure.

In an average class, there’ll be a depressed person, a blissed-out person, and a one-bitten-fingernail-away-from-going-postal person. Some want to sweat, others want gentle coaxing. But if you think our class is “not as good as my other teacher, Satya’s,” know that it’s impossible to please everyone. (Oh and by the way, Satya’s real name is Karen.)

After a long week telling people to breathe in and out, there’s nothing better than lying on the couch to watch a jolly good beheading on Game of Thrones.

If the class theme is ‘equanimity,’ chances are we’re trying not to take it personally that two people turned up to last night’s class. Ditto ‘body love’, ‘Patience’ and ‘forgiving those who’ve wronged us’.

Some teachers like to be idolised, others don’t care for it. But if you do, you’re 80% more likely to hear that they’ve been involved in a sex scandal or killed their own prey.

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you eat meat / get injuries / were found drunk in the gutter!’ Yes, that’s right, we’re human. Need to learn from someone perfect? Good luck with that.

The people who tell you how amaaaaazing yoga is are usually the ones who don’t turn up regularly. Serious about your practice? Turn up when you’re irritable as hell, then have the balls to take three deep breaths without running away.

Physical postures are just one part of yoga. There’s also meditation, philosophy and a bunch of other stuff. You don’t have to be spiritual, or even a nice person to try—but if you decide to take it seriously, your life will turn upside down. And it will be worth it.

Your shit doesn’t frighten us. So cry if you need to cry, be grumpy if you need to be grumpy. Heaving sobs in a hip stretch? Excellent. I myself mouthed swear words through my first five years of practice.

You look so peaceful in Savasana. You look like you really need a rest.

We will never tell you what we really think of Bikram unless we are drunk.

~

Bonus: Yoga with Integrity:

Cyndi:

Amy:

Mo’ Richard:

Jeanie:

Ana:

Sadie:

Rod:

Seane:

Bo:

Shiva:

 

 

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Asst. Ed: Renee Picard / Ed: Sara Crolick

 


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About A.V. Williams

A.V. Williams is a Melbourne author and yoga teacher. She teaches media writing at the University of Melbourne. Say hello on The Twitter or The Facebook! Read more from A.V. Williams...

Comments

127 Responses to “Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t). ~ Alice Williams”

  1. yoga ninja says:

    why not ask someone who actually practices/teaches bikram yoga? or better yet – just try it for yourself and develop your own opinion. regardless of what style of yoga you practice… the common thread is: it's YOUR practice.

  2. yoga ninja says:

    separate the man from the yoga. if you dig deep enough – almost everything has its skeletons in the closet. this stated… the tides they are a'changin'…. i suggest consulting with a few of the studio owners in your area. follow your heart <3

  3. yoga ninja says:

    ^ what Mishel said….

  4. yoga ninja says:

    "We will never tell you what we really think of Bikram unless we are drunk."
    interesting that most of you are assuming that "what we really think of Bikram" would be negative… if we are talking about Bikram the man then probably… but if we are talking about Bikram the style of practice…liquid courage could bring out the truth… it works.

    PS great article!

  5. jay4060 says:

    I bet you’re a blast at parties.

  6. Megan says:

    I effing loved it. Thanks for your expression that I can relate to as a fellow yoga teacher.

  7. Megan says:

    very well said!

  8. Megan says:

    The healers are the ones who have needed or do need the most healing. They know the experience first hand and that's why they make the best mentors, philosophers, yoga teachers…yada yada.

    And the people who I see judging this article are simply doing that, and maybe in need of really learning how to be honest with themselves. I know only because I was and still am one of them… Shy from judgement and lean towards discernment…

  9. msjudie says:

    Once a year, I met a friend for whiskey and a cigar. Once I asked her if she had ever seen a sunday school director drink. She answered, have you ever seen a yoga instructor that smoked.

  10. Yogi-bear says:

    The article is alright as a light/superficial/humorous take on being a "yoga instructor" but Rose is absolutely correct in making this point – Alice and others certainly don't sound like "yogis" in the traditional sense. Yogi Bhajan has a simple definition: "Yoga is the union of the individual’s unit consciousness with the Infinite Consciousness. The definition of a yogi is a person who has totally leaned on the Supreme Consciousness, which is God, until he or she has merged the unit self with the Infinite Self. That is all it means."

    I'd be surprised if anyone in this thread could claim anything remotely close to this level of spiritual understanding. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with not being a "Yogi" for heavens sake – you have to work towards it like any worth while attainment – it doesn't come easy. So why not just respect the title for what it is and stop misrepresenting ourselves – claiming levels of enlightenment we have yet to understand. simple. until then lets just call ourselves what we are "yoga practitioners" who still eat meat, have sex and smoke – then if we are dedicated and genuine in our practice we may one day become "Yogis" but by then we probably wont give a shit what we're called or what people call us lol.

  11. Yogi-bear says:

    The article is alright as a light/superficial/humorous take on being a "yoga instructor" but Rose is absolutely correct in making this point – Alice and others certainly don't sound like "yogis" in the traditional sense. Yogi Bhajan has a simple definition: "Yoga is the union of the individual’s unit consciousness with the Infinite Consciousness. The definition of a yogi is a person who has totally leaned on the Supreme Consciousness, which is God, until he or she has merged the unit self with the Infinite Self. That is all it means."

  12. AlexFineArts says:

    What about a Yoga session where the instructor plays loud hip-hop music while talking to the students? Do they really pretend that the students can listen and be concentrated at least in the yoga instructor words?
    How do you like a thug yoga instructor that teaches bootcamp style?
    Perhaps try "frying yoga". When the instructor allows the room temperature to rise above 108 Fahrenheit
    Oops! Sorry for mentioning "you know who" without getting drunk. LOL.
    With so many instructor and so many students It is time to offer a match making service. LOL
    Peace.

  13. Sarah says:

    woot woot!

  14. Ara says:

    I teach Bikram style yoga (not affiliated with Bikram) and every class is different in it's way. The dialog is absolutely essential in keeping the rhythm and pace. It takes time for a teacher to learn to really teach because first they must hold the energy and conduct a well paced class…it's harder than you think. I may say basically the same things but I weave alignment/modification/information and different energetic focus through each class. We do the same routine because it works, the simple series was designed for total body health and healing as well as preparing the mind for meditation. Some people really crave the discipline and the quietude, others may not like being told what to do …it's not for everyone. It takes an experienced and connected teacher to impart this so students can understand why it is that we do what we do. I have had so many students thank me afterwards for explaining this as well as help them with postures they had been doing incorrectly for years. Bikram himself….. I don't feel to be a good person anymore. At one time I think he was, but is now lost. The yoga is amazing, I have witnessed so much beautiful positive transformation over the years. I understand where the criticism is coming from but it usually comes from the periphery and not someone who really understands the yoga. Try not to judge. It upsets me when I see comments like these and in the article because it is ignorant.

  15. Ashley says:

    i wish yoga wasn't some trendy cool and hip thing to talk about and make sarcastic and catty/witty remarks about…. Yoga means unison. it is to get in touch with the divine partially through physical asana… Iyengar had mentioned how embarrassing and insulting the westernization of yoga is for him and his life work. Who cares about how see through the pants are.

  16. Lindsay says:

    Loved this article! It is amazing how many people wear see through yoga pants or worse! No one should show up to a yoga class without first bending over in a mirror. Tights are NOT yoga pants!

  17. laportama says:

    Part of yoga is RESTRAINT.
    "Dying to tell you"? Perfectly understandable, and an error, so DON'T.
    But thanks for the entertainment. I'd take your class and integrate even your personal inventory-taking. One can learn something from everyone.

  18. use-ah says:

    The fact that there is a yoga studio in my area, every 5-10 miles apart and the only people who can afford to breath and stretch with some idealistic instructor are the wealthy stay at home mom's and wives of the doctors that live here. This tells me it's is all about the Benjamins. This lady is funny…I mean super funny. I loved her giving permission to cry during class and could give a shit what she eats at home. If you are sitting in judgement then are you a yogi? Or yogini..or a double yogurt with sprinkles? I see how this could be offensive to people looking to be offended, otherwise it is one persons point of view on her day to day existence and sometimes burden of life. I actually do not participate in yoga because the classes I have taken were filled with pretension and a note of hostility. I have gone to three different studios and the only one I really enjoyed and felt calmed and invigorated was the one at the YMCA. The art deco, namasta banner, weeping walls, buda fountain studios do nothing for me but tell me they are cashing in on the huge monthly membership fees. No I don't expect it to be free, but c'mon. So I understand you all pointing your fingers from behind your computers at home or "work" and the attacks on her honesty and emotional purge because that is the Yoga I'm used to seeing.

  19. fred09red says:

    To some people, yoga classes are the best fun in the world, similarly to going at a fancy party with sparklers and what not. It all depends on what people choose to do and what truly makes them happy.

  20. Mackenzie says:

    So painfully true! I love it — Thanks for putting this in words!!!!!

  21. Rob says:

    "it’s only because the two girls catching up on gossip in the back row are giving us the shits."

    And it was right there I realised the author had to be Australian. Nice one…….

  22. Tom Whalen says:

    Real people don’t have time to go where pretenders go.

  23. OptimAge says:

    I think it's great, especially for those at the beginning of their journey as it allows for participation even with limited skill. I'm thismuch better after two years, but it IS an improvement, and it IS measurable. And I know I'll never be "done" with a pose, which keeps me going.
    Different studios are subtly different, as are the teachers. The key is to go 4-5 times/week, regardless of how you feel. Kind of like the Gold's Gym regimen!

  24. Loved the article and as the Dave said "Lots of great points here, and i think the article is worthy of The Onion :-)."

  25. Nikki says:

    this made me roar with laughter and I'm sharing to my page for the enjoyment of my students .
    If you're offended, I think you need a chill pill!
    Brilliant

  26. monika says:

    Beautifully said!

  27. Julia says:

    I actually teach and this happens but I think if you enjoy your job and you get what yoga is about, you wouldn’t care as much… You cannot depend on the perfect circumstances to be enjoying your work, and sometimes people maybe leave before savasana they have no time but at least they showed up, who knows, there can be so many reasons… I have been tempted to complain about these things too but I understood that the world doesn’t turn around me. It’s harder to be responsible for your own happiness but that’s what yoga is all about.

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