The 10 Reasons the Class You Teach Still Sucks. ~ Alison Hinks

Via Alison Hinks
on Sep 28, 2013
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Complain yoga

1. You don’t like being looked at.

Sorry buddy. You’re the leader here. The captain of the ship, the general of the army. You’re the one that everyone is looking to for guidance. Get used to being seen, but better yet, get to like it.

People know when you’re dodging their gaze. People notice when you can’t hold eye contact in sukasana. It makes them uneasy and distrustful of the person that is driving the bus.

2. You want to practice with your students.

This is not your time to take class, this is your time to offer an experience. If you are doing poses with your class, you’re focused inward, on your body and your experience.

In most poses, your eyes physically can’t see the class (downward dog, forward fold) and that is a moment you lose in being a leader, preventing injury, or offering informed guidance.

3. You don’t know how to use your voice.

You’re too quiet or too loud. You talk too much or too little. You don’t know when to pause. You speak in a monotone. You giggle nervously. Your voice is your greatest tool as a teacher so learn to access it in a dynamic way.

4. Your language is vague or “yoga-y.”

What on earth does “ascend your heart inwardly mean?” How do I do that? Be clear.

“Bend your knee/Look at the ceiling/arch your upper back.” And if they still don’t understand, try and try again to become even clearer.

5. You only speak to one level of student.

You’re an ace at speaking to either to beginners. Or maybe you know how to rock a vinyasa class full of arm-balances and inversions. Either way, you risk leaving one section of the class behind.

Learn how to offer options so that everyone can participate fully.

6. You can’t respond to what’s happening in the moment.

Teaching yoga is like surfing. You’ve got a general idea of what is going to happen when you take your board out, but the ocean has the last word.

Things you don’t expect are going to happen. Laughter. No one will be able to do the arm-balance you planned. Your music will plotz. Learn to go with the flow and address surprises rather than ignore them.

7. You don’t start/end on time.

If I’ve managed to carve out (with a dull spoon, most likely) time in my schedule to find clean clothes and actually drive to the yoga class, please don’t make me wait to take it. And please don’t make me late for dinner afterwards.

8. You make announcements after class.

If you’ve avoided doing all of these other things, and you’re a great teacher, you’ve given your students a nice case of “yoga brain.”

They are calm, receptive, happy. Don’t start telling them about your beach retreat or your inversion workshop.

9. You rush into savasana, or rush savasana.

That was a great flow, sure, but my heart is still pounding and my pores are still pouring sweat. Please do a cooling down sequence so that I can enjoy my savasana.

And give me at least five to seven minutes. Any less feels like a tease, or like you forgot what time it was.

10. You make people partner up.

Unless someone came with their best friend, no one likes this. Not only is it a huge time-suck to have folks partner up, no one reeeeally wants to touch a sweaty stranger.


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Assist Ed: Dana Gornall/Ed: Sara Crolick



About Alison Hinks

Alison Hinks studied trapeze, Chinese acrobatics, ballet, modern, martial arts and choreography before opening her own studio, Bull City Yoga, in Durham, NC. She once fronted a Guns N Roses cover band. It was awesome.


11 Responses to “The 10 Reasons the Class You Teach Still Sucks. ~ Alison Hinks”

  1. James says:

    I feel lucky never to have experienced these types of instructors at my local studio. If you have had to put up with this level of practice, please stop for your benefit. First, do some research on the studio to find out what kind of reputation it has. Yoga should be all-inclusive of it's varied-level participants with hands-on instruction to help yogis get deeper into their poses. I've experiened the frusteration of not knowing what exactly the instructor is talking about. However, the yogi should be willing to ask questions and do the research to brush up on terms if they don't understand. Help them help you! 🙂 If you're participating in it, then be about it! Besides, someone in the class knows the pose; look at them.

    I feel like the author of this should do that whole "be the change" thing rather than putting crappy instructors under the limelight. Less critiquing; more being the teacher you want to have and forget the rest. You obviously have your opinion, Hinks, but if it's going to be in my newsfeed I'd rather read the 10 Reasons the Class You Teach is Awesome!

    The last point about partnering up. This really helps me come out of my social comfort zone, and though it's not my strong suit I can't say I don't like it because it liberates us to forget about sweat and be comfortable with asking for help. Plus, sometimes you get matched up with a babe, and that's supposed to suck? lol. I sweat buckets and no one seems to mind; unless I eat a lot of eggs. Then I can smell that sulfuric odor and that's nasty. I digress. Egg sweat. Blech,

  2. Geoff says:

    I pretty much agree with you except on #2. I like my teacher to demonstrate the pose and help people when they need it. It is possible and some can do this well, like my teacher for example (she’s unbelievable!). Teachers who only talk you through a pose sometimes leave the class ln lt too long, I’ve noticed. Easy to do when they can’t feel it! Just my 2 cents.

  3. Maria perry says:

    I agree with all of these points. Except for the partnering up. I’ve had lots of times where I really loved what I learned from working with a partner. Some people are hesitant and that’s ok. But that’s just another chance to overcome fear and create connection. if that’s not what yoga is about, then I don’t what is.

  4. Robyn says:

    Hate the partner thing! I don't even like to partner with people I know. I'm just not that into touching other sweaty people.
    And I once took a class where we spent the whole time doing yoga with folding chairs. I found it weird and annoying. Sometimes overuse of props is distracting and irritating.

  5. Brooke says:

    I am at my yoga teacher training right now… And I will be sure to remember these things when I’m done so my classes don’t suck!

  6. Martha says:

    I agree with much of what you said except partnering. I think it's a great way to learn, to get deeper into a pose (like a squat), and to have a little fun. Yoga is about union; partnering is another way to find union and a deeper understanding that we are all one.

  7. karlsaliter says:

    Five gold stars. Including the partnering thing.

  8. Erica says:

    Agree with all and sincerely hope I am not doing any of these things when I teach. Fingers crossed. PS when did partnering even become a thing?? It needs to go away. Now.

  9. Anna says:

    I agree with most, except I think it is VERY helpful to demo poses to beginning and newer students. No matter how good you are at verbalizing, if you have never seen or felt the pose. Also many times when teachers don't do any poses with the class you end up holding the pose a super long time. and I LOVE to partner up.

  10. Jennifer says:

    In reference to #2

    Lately I've been hearing that a yoga teacher should NOT practice with their students. While I agree, this is not the time to "get in" your own practice, I think there are valid reasons to practice with your class. I don't' think you should do the entire practice with your students (unless your class is specifically advertised as such), but there are occasions when joining your student in the practice is a skillful choice.

    1. You are teaching a pose or sequence that is new to you. Doing the pose/sequence will get you into your body and help you cue off your experience. It will also serve as a nice visual to your students.

    2. To up the energy of the room. Let's say you are teaching a challenging sequence and you know your students will need extra energy to stay on board. Practicing with you students in this scenario can be like saying "we are in it together", creating a sense of community. I know I work harder when I see my teachers work hard.

    3. You know you will be doing a challenging demo that requires you to be warmed up. For example, Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana. Even if you have (and hopefully you have) done your own practice, chances are that you will still need some warming up to show a challenging asana. As a teacher, one of the worst things you can do is demo a pose when you aren't warmed up. Not only will it not be a great demo, you could injury yourself in the process.

  11. Jessica says:

    Number 10 is my biggest pet peeve! I didn't come to yoga class, as a student, to help teach the class. Really, I have no idea what I'm doing, please do not ask me to lead someone else!