FIVE THINGS YOUR YOGA TEACHER WANTS YOU TO KNOW
There are 2 main goals that I have for every single yoga class that I teach...
1. Guide my students to pure mental, physical, and spiritual bliss, and
2. Ensure that they don't get hurt
In my attempts to achieve these goals, there are 5 things that as a yoga teacher I wish I could tell every one of my students and as a yoga student I wish that my yoga teacher would have told me...
1. Respect the level of your practice.
The easiest way to do this is by taking a class that suits your level of training. We understand that you have a busy schedule and sometimes the 6 pm advanced vinyasa is the only time that you can make that day. Its not that we don’t want you to come to our class, we are beyond thrilled that you took the time to roll out your mat and even more thrilled that you are rolling it out in our class. But, if you are a beginner practitioner and you attend an advanced vinyasa, the risk of you getting injured increases exponentially. The last thing that we want as yoga teachers and human beings is for you to get hurt. So if you must attend a class that is above your level of training, let the teacher know and take modifications as needed. Do challenge yourself though, try the advanced variation of the pose, if you can, but honor your practice and your body. The hassle of trying to leave work 15 minutes early to make the intermediate class is worth more than not being able to practice for a month because you pulled your hamstring trying to do a pose that you didn’t know how to do properly.
2. Be prepared
You should always bring a yoga mat, towel, and water with you when you come to a class. If you forget something, no big deal it happens. Most studios offer rental mats and sell water bottles, but these, to me, are non-negotiable items in any yoga class. Yoga is a workout, whether you are in a heated class or not, bring a towel to wipe up the sweat around your mat after class. No one wants to lay their mat down in a puddle of someone else’s sweat from the class before them. With sweat comes dehydration, so please bring a water bottle that is big enough to keep you hydrated throughout the length of the class. I see so many people bring tiny water bottles into my class, its empty before the warm up is over and they have to leave the room (sometimes several times) to refill their water bottles. It is very distracting to the teacher and the students when you are coming and going. Also, as a teacher, I’m not sure if you are just thirsty or if you are leaving because something is wrong (overheated, injured, etc) and then we spend the rest of the class (or until you get back) worrying about you. Please have everything you need before class starts to avoid having to leave class during the flow.
3. Stick to the instructed flow.
There are countless variations to every pose and please, by all means take the variation that suits your level of practice, but don’t go off into your own world and start doing something completely different than what the teacher is instructing. I have had people in my class (in the front row too) just going with their own flow, and it is extremely distracting and confusing to those students that aren’t familiar with the poses and are watching the other students for guidance. If you would like to do you own flow please do it at home, in between classes, or sign up to teach your own class.
4. Be respectful
I feel like this one should be a given, but I had to include it because I have had so many experiences when I feel like I am in the twilight zone. While you are waiting for class to start please be mindful of people that are meditating or getting into the "yogi zone". Please don’t throw your mat on the floor loudly, step on other people’s mats, place your mat directly in front of someone else’s mat, or talk loudly with your friends. If you like a certain spot in the room, get there early to set up your mat in that spot and if you would like to chat, set up your mat in the studio and then excuse yourself from the room until the class begins. On the flip side, when class is over, please don’t roll up your mat loudly and chat with your friends while others are meditation or slowly coming out of savasana. I was in a class once where I was meditating for a moment after savasana and the person next to me began spraying their mat with cleaning spray (which sprayed all over my face), then rolled up their mat so loudly I thought it was going to hit me in the face, and then steped on me while they were leaving the room. This was a true test of my meditation practice to stay focused through all of this. And to make matters worse, I was allergic to something in their mat spray and broke out on hives on the drive home. Please be mindful of the others in the room, if you need to take a call or want to spray your mat please do so outside of the practice room.
5. Take Savasana
Savasana is the most important pose of your yoga practice, please don’t skip it. Not only does it take away from your practice and all of the work that you just did in class, but it is extremely distracting to others in this pose while you are rolling up your mat and exiting the room. If you need to leave before the end of class, please let your teacher know before hand. Its ok if you need to leave early, we just want to know so we don’t think something happened during class, like an injury or illness. We do actually care about you guys! So to not lose all the amazing benefits of the practice, if you must leave early, take a spine twist and short savasana and then quietly excuse yourself.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my job is to make sure that not only do you achieve a state of pure bliss, but that you do it safely. Yoga is about living mindfully and that doesn't stop when you step off your mat (or even when you are sitting on it waiting for class to start).
What are some things that as a student you wish your yoga teacher knew? Share them in the comments!