April 9, 2011

One Teacher gives it to you straight…what do you think of her list?

You are not the forest, you do not speak for this tree…I do love lists, I’m a list kind of gal. And I do so love opinions and insights, I have many of those as well. I don’t however like being lumped into a list — I see it a lot with yoga teachers (probably other groups as well, but because this is where I do my reading and what people associate with me I guess I see the most here) Not too long ago a did an “anti- top ten list” it was a rebuttal to the snarky top things we hate lists that were very prevalent, and in my opinion sort of anti yoga. Just because one teacher thinks one thing doesn’t mean we all feel that way…

Recently I got another one of these articles sent to me…and as per usual, although I do appreciate where this teacher is coming from, I don’t like it being stated like all teacher’s feel this way. So when my brother sent me the article I “responded” line by line, and I thought WoW, you know EJ reader’s might have something to say about some of these as well.

You can see the original article here: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/13-things-your-yoga-teacher-won-t-tell-you-2469794/

Here was my response:

1. I don’t have all the answers—about yoga or anything else—and I get irritated when I witness other yoga teachers putting themselves out there as gurus, therapists, or doctors.

AMEN to that — -although I will see people as a hypnotherapist and I will fo’ sure talk to them…and I do know some yogi/nis that are also therapists, naturopaths, healers etc. so some of them are gurus, teachers, healers…I believe we are here to help as long as we don’t “oversell” or misrepresent ourselves I will gladly be there for my students. Just because this person doesn’t have other credentials doesn’t mean she needs to belittle others and what we do and who we are (for the record I EMPHASIZE to my students I am no “guru”, but I will gladly share what i have learned/discovered thus far. )

2. Clean your mat. When you sweat on it and then roll it up and then sweat on it again, it becomes a petri dish.

OMG I am so bad about this…but then I don’t have germ phobia JBesides I don’t expect other people to sit or stand in my petri dish.

3. I love teaching yoga, but teaching is torture if I haven’t been able to do my own practice in awhile.

I’m weird…teaching IS my practice, I mean I have a regular practice, I would be doing a disservice to my students if I wasn’t practicing what I preach and I am always striving, but in the end I get the most connection to source/universe when I share my yoga experience with the students…I believe it is my calling. (PS I also don’t see “asana” as the only way I practice yoga…it’s more important that I meditate than do asana)

4. Yoga is not a magic bullet or a pill you can take to solve your bad attitude if you’re not prepared to put in the work yourself.

AMEN TO THAT. It is also not a panacea — and not every pose or aspect is right for every person…this is not about abdicating your health or sanity to someone else this is about learning about yourself and connecting and then creating yourself.

5. Wear deodorant. Look up the Sanskrit word “saucha.” It means “cleanliness.” No one wants to smell you; it’s off-putting.

I get bothered when teachers complain about this…I think people may have legitimate reasons they stink…I think teachers need to suck it up more 🙂 I do however appreciate when people don’t wear heavy perfumes or oils as that can send allergies into a tailspin..

6. I may be smiling at you when you walk in late and loudly slam your mat on the floor next to your meditating classmates but that doesn’t mean I approve. We all have busy lives but if you arrive late please try to be respectful of me and your fellow students. Start thinking yoga BEFORE you come in.

Amen to that as well! I will still accept you and I graciously accept that you have legitimate reasons to be late – just do so quietly and respectfully. I actually have a saying “no such thing as late to yoga” I always tell people I would rather have them be 5 minutes late than not come at all, and I don’t want to create more road rage with people trying to get to yoga on time. Sure there is the idea of discipline, but most of my students aren’t “yogis” rather householders that are seeking peace and release and health, I want them to feel safe, loved and accepted — I want their yoga to be a solace not a duty.

7. I am not doing this for the money. I could barely make a living teaching you this class, as I receive little financial reward for the effort I am putting into this. So please respect that.

True to a certain extent, but it is my living and what I ask is that people respect that this a legitimate JOB as well — I have a skill set and have invested much into being a good teacher and I appreciate being financially compensated for my knowledge and effort. Sometimes “part time” teachers have a different view of this subject.

8. I have poses I dread and avoid practicing and teaching.

Oh so true, though sometimes we do the poses I dread the most so that I will do them — I try to practice what I preach.

9. I hate yoga sometimes.

I have heard other teachers say this, I have seen it happen hard core to a friend. So far this is not true for me..I have doubted it, questioned it, questioned certain styles, not loved particular teachers or classes but to date not for one moment have I ever hated yoga I consider it the one thing I love everyday of my life, I may not love the asana practice or meditating every day but I love YOGA as a whole every day of my life…so far….

10. When people have matchy-matchy yoga outfits and every single prop, designer yoga mat and accessory on the market, I question what their practice is really about. People, seriously, all you need is a heartbeat, willingness and a little space.

I question teachers that question people based on this…Judge much? I know when I first started I was so enthusiastic I wanted everything that had to do with it…if you love it and you love fashion and you THINK you need all the stuff, I applaud your enthusiasm and I hope that you will also see you don’t need all of it…sometimes I’m even jealous of the fashionable yogis (I know, I know…it’s part of my practice) I mean some of these women look better in yoga than I do on a night out on the town…I admire them in a way. But at the end of the day whether some one shows up in matching lululemon or in a Tye dye t-shirt is no indication of their inner practice. OH and for the record I am intensive with props – I disagree to a certain level with this as a block and a strap are actually pretty important for those that aren’t ready to be super yogi – of course I teach a lot of therapeutic yoga so the props are big to me..again it just feels judgey…

11. It’s one thing to modify a posture if you’re having trouble with it. But don’t just ignore the teacher and freestyle your way through class. That’s rude.

Sounds like a ego teacher to me…I “freestyle” parts of class often, I have injuries and I know what I can and can’t do and I know what is going to feel good at this moment — I will follow you if you are where I need to be — but if not sorry I’m doing my own thing…it’s not rude, I’m not there for you, I’m there for me…I encourage rebel behaviour UNLESS what you are doing is going too far too soon and then I may ask you wait for us to catch up J(usually only true in a basic or all level class just to keep from scaring the newbies) Seriously – there was one time I was sick and injured and went to a Nidra class — I’m laying on the mat ready to get my nidra on and the teacher says “come to the top of the mat — we are going to flow for 20 to 30 minutes to prepare for our nidra” WHAT??? I was prepared for and needed the nidra I was in no way willing or able to flow for 20 to 30 minutes first…so while everyone else was doing sun salutations I was laying on the floor doing gentle stretches…rude? hardly, rude would have been the teacher forcing me to do what I knew wasn’t right for me at the time. REALLY good teachers encourage students to be their own best teachers…because in the end ONLY the student knows what is going on in their bodies.

12. I am not a doctor. I ask you about your injuries because they affect your practice. But I am not a qualified cardiologist, neurologist, psychiatrist or podiatrist. So don’t expect me to be able to solve your heart murmur, figure out the source of your mysterious neck pain, or provide counseling between down dog and savasana. You need a doctor.

I will help as much as I can— but after class and I am not a doctor so I ask that you take suggestions and then find a qualified person but I always have time to talk about it…again this may have to do with this particular teacher’s qualifications I suppose, since I practice/offer different modalities I like to try to help people when I can.

13. Yoga is HARD. It’s meant to be. Didn’t you get the memo?!

Actually the discipline to keep practicing is hard…but class doesn’t have to be…you don’t have to Kill yourself every time you do asana to make progress I believe in a gentle slow accepting approach…
This was fun — I love reading what other teacher’s think…it helps me solidify my philosophy…I might even post this as a blog. (and I did just that 🙂 )

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Aminda R. Courtwright  |  Contribution: 9,785