I teach a class that people either love or hate.
I know this. I am not a vanilla person and my class reflects that.
I love music and I love those times when I am practicing to have a song come on that transcends the practice, making it something otherworldly. Sounds dramatic, but we all know what I mean: that moment when a song comes on and we’re in the right pose and we have a “moment.”
But I have had people really hate that I play various genres of music in my class. I have had people walk out. (Every teacher has, at some point in their teaching.)
I have had people ask me to change my music mid-class and I have seen people have a very emotional reaction, both good and bad, to my choice of tunes. This doesn’t happen often, but I have heard students leave a class saying, “I just don’t think this is for me,” or “I really didn’t like that teacher,” and you know what—that’s totally normal. Before I was a teacher, even I have left a class because I just wasn’t into the instructor.
Not everyone likes everything. We have to find our thing, the thing that keeps us coming back. Everyone has one.
Yoga has been a saving grace for me for years now, but there was a time when I would leave a class angry and hateful and thinking, “Why the hell did I get up early for this?” We didn’t all come out of the womb just loving yoga. Most of us probably had some moments of, “What the heck am I doing?”
I come from a very non-yogic life.
My parents are all Western medicine—in fact it’s their livelihood—and most of my friends are, and were, very anti-yoga. They all say things like, “I went once and it just wasn’t for me,” or, “I hate all the religious stuff and the chanting, I mean, I don’t want to be converted,” or, “I just am not a yoga person.”
I get it because I felt that way too and today I tell us all this: there is always a way in.
When I first starting doing yoga over 17 years ago, yoga was not what it is now. There seemed to be only one kind, or at least only one kind I could find in my small town and it moved too slowly and only old hippies were doing it and the music, if any, really sucked. It was like elevator music or weird pan flute versions of Beatles songs, so I kind of dropped in and out of it.
Some part of it seemed good and interesting but I really couldn’t get into it. Then I moved to LA and took a class at the weirdest studio ever. It was actually owned by an ex-porn star (so very LA), and it had a very irreverent feel to all the classes. I had never seen yoga that wasn’t all older hippies and incense and stuff and it blew my mind.
The studio was just an empty warehouse, super beautiful and all the teachers were young and they played music sometimes and it seemed very accessible. I found two teachers there that were very different from each other and both amazingly skilled. They became my anchors, the roots of my practice. I became hooked and I am ever grateful and thankful to them.
Now I am not suggesting that the hippie incense way is bad and that this glossy young LA way is good, I am just saying that there is something in yoga for everyone. The same thing that brings us to our mat or the studio is not always the same thing all the time and all through our life.
We change and so does our practice. It’s like anything else.
If we went to a dentist and he was not nice to us or we didn’t have a transformative experience would we just say we hate teeth, and dentists? Probably not right? Yoga is the same.
Maybe we have taken one or even two classes and it just wasn’t our thing.
Try other types of yoga, try all different types of teachers. A teacher that we click with makes all the difference in our loving a class and really feeling yoga take hold.
Maybe we like music in our class, maybe we want the music loud and familiar, or maybe we want it soothing and in a different language, or maybe silence is your thing. The point is to get out there and try a bunch on for size before we decide it’s not for us.
Then if we still think it’s not for us, okay, maybe not at this minute in our life, but maybe try again some time later in our journey.
Hey, I hated avocados until two years ago. Can you imagine? Avocados are delicious.
Why do I say all of this? I hear so many people say the same things about yoga and then one day they say something different—they have a eureka moment. Honestly, each of my friends who started off by saying they hated yoga eventually came to enjoy it once they found the right fit.
Yes it’s true, yoga isn’t for everyone, but it is for quite a few. There is something to it. So go out there and try all that yoga on till we find something that fits and always keep an open mind to our likes and styles changing. Our practice can be as changing as our haircuts and color, which for me is quite often.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Bronwyn Petry / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wikimedia Commons