July 22, 2013

3 Signs You’re in a Dangerous Yoga Class.

There’s no such thing as a bad yoga class; but there are dangerous ones.

As a yogi, I look at each class as an opportunity to actually “practice” my yoga. This means if I don’t love the teacher, the music, the flow or the style, I remind myself that yoga is a reflection of life.

We learn to find the good, navigate the unpleasant and take care of ourselves in the kindest way possible.

So, while there are no bad yoga classes, here are three signs you’re in a dangerous one:

1.  The teacher doesn’t ask if there’s anyone that would like to skip adjustments today.

This one is a biggie.  There’s history in your body: injuries, soreness and trauma, depending on the day. It’s impossible for a teacher to know each student’s body personally, so asking “Who doesn’t want to be adjusted today?” while having you raise an arm in child’s pose or a leg in downward dog is a sign of an aware teacher.

Starting class without checking in is a sign of carelessness.

2. While adjusting, the teacher moves you into the adjustment quickly and aggressively.  

Adjustments should be done in micro movements (1/8 of an inch, 1/4 inch, etc.) while asking you for feedback every step of the way. I winced as a teacher recently moved my shoulder back two inches quickly and reactivated an old injury. This is a sign of arrogance, lack of good judgement and carelessness.

3. Only demonstrating advanced postures.

I’ve seen a trend of Cirque de Sole esq postures being shown by teachers in classes lately, and while it’s certainly motivating to see what’s possible, not giving alternative modifications, regardless of class level, is irresponsible.

Seane Corn once started a class by taking child’s pose and saying: “This is warrior 4 pose. It’s the most advanced posture you can do because it requires we set our ego aside, and instead listen to our body”.

Our bodies are strong yet vulnerable.

Ultimately the responsibility of staying safe is in our own hands; yet avoiding dangerous classes and finding good teachers allows us to relax…and to me, that’s yoga at it’s best.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: The author via Jim Campbell OmLight Photography

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