Do you ever find yourself leaving a yoga class feeling that your practice could have been better if only your teacher did or said something different?
Maybe you have found that during a class you were feeling irritated or agitated by something that your instructor said or did? Perhaps you have felt that your practice would have been better if only the teacher had used more verbal cues, demonstrations, hands on assists, music, silence, jokes, inversions, and/or arms balances. Have you felt that you could have gone deeper into your practice if only your teacher took you there? Maybe you have found yourself not liking your teacher at all, which ultimately ruined your practice.
If this sounds familiar consider this: the way we are left feeling is up to us.
Your feelings are a reflection of you, not the instructor. Yogis are always saying that the mat is our mirror and guess what? It’s true.
What comes up for us during practice—whether it is insights, release, joy, connection, comfort, agitation, loneliness or judgements—is the asana revealing what we need to recognize to help unite your mind, body and soul.
It is my belief that if we attend a yoga class that leaves us feeling a particular way, we have had a gifted teacher—they have guided us into a place of exploring our feelings, a space of meeting ourselves fully.
The job of a yoga instructor is to guide us through practice. We have to remember that they really have no idea know what is going on in the bodies, minds and emotions of every student.
Consider for a moment that it is not the yoga teacher’s job to inspire you to greatness, you need to do that for yourself. Their job is to guide you through a series of postures and breathing cues that allow you to tap into the benefits of yoga, which they have benefited from and trust that you will too.
Yoga itself, through repeated practice, will help generate inspiration, joy, vitality, wellness, health, but you need to put in the work. If you find yourself wanting more from your teacher, don’t wait for him/her to instruct you to do it. If you want something out of your practice (depth, connection, flexibility, strength, release, stability) go after it yourself. You need to practice, after all it is your practice.
Next time you find yourself frustrated and annoyed with your practice because of your yoga teacher, remember that these feelings are brought to the surface to be explored and addressed. Instead of blaming your teacher, send him/her love, light and gratitude and know that what you you experience during their class is a reflection of you, not them.
Stay on your mat, breathe and practice.
Author: Shauna Peckham
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Illustration by Nina Paley on Wikimedia Commons