November 10, 2014

Who Killed My Yoga Class? The 10 Usual Suspects.


Every city, town and village now seems to be offering yoga classes which is definitely a good thing for people in our day and age.

The problem with the thousands of yoga classes that are being offered daily is that many of them are being taught by inexperienced yoga instructors or teachers with blown-up egos.

Thus, many of the classes being offered do more harm than good and often give a false sense of what a real, safe, fun and healthy yoga class should be like.

Having listened to hundreds of people speak about their yoga classes I have discovered many of them have had “bad yoga” experiences. They often describe their experience as an unrestful, discomforting and dissatisfying.

Please don’t take this the wrong way, there are many great yoga instructors and excellent classes out there, but we should be aware and perhaps seek out more yoga classes and teachers that are more harmonious, or sattvic as we say in the yoga language.

In my early years of teaching I confess that I may have killed a few classes with some of the culprits listed below but I now do my best to teach a class with more balance, harmony and simplicity.

Having experienced many of what I consider “bad yoga classes” and even yoga workshops myself, I am presenting you with a list of 10 culprits that kill a yoga class.

1. A class where teachers talks about crap that they have no idea about. Have you ever went to class where the instructor is talking about chakras, energy and even anatomy that doesn’t make sense? I understand that you sometimes need to “fake it till you make it,” but really if they have no idea about a topic they shouldn’t just make things up.

2. A class that is overly aggressive and has you push too hard without acknowledging your own limits. There are many teachers, and even styles of yoga, who don’t have a clue that they are pushing someone too hard in a class. They use words and phrases like “push harder,” “make it hurt,” “do it, you can, and you have too.” Even adjusting someone too aggressively can be harmful.

3. Classes where the instructor is full of ego and talks too much about themselves, their experiences and what they know. Yoga classes are definitely meant to teach you something but it should be done in a kind, gentle and humble way where the teacher doesn’t pretend to be above you in a more enlightened state of being.

4. Classes where there is just too much talking in general. Some teachers just cannot stop their mouths from flapping. Yoga classes are supposed to be peaceful, calm and relaxing. It’s hard to find that with too much verbal diarrhea.

5. Classes that are a hodge-podge. I think it’s great to attend a class where someone creates a specific intention or specializes in something, but when it becomes a mix of too many different modalities then it becomes too confusing. Too many ingredients in a soup makes for a nasty soup.

6. Moving too quickly and too erratically. Simply put moving without awareness and focus causes one to lose awareness of their breath. Have you ever been to a yoga class where you have felt more agitated and restless rather than calm and relaxed?

7. A class where the music is too loud and irritating. I don’t know about you, but I find it really annoying when someone is playing country music, rap music or any other loud in-your-face type of music. Sure, a little back ground instrumental or even calm, soothing chanting is OK.

8. A class where the teacher is practicing with the whole class. How can one possibly be aware and in-tuned with students needs when they are participating in the class? This is a sure sign of inexperience, lack of awareness and self-motivated actions.

9. A class with a very short or no Shavasana. I feel a Yoga practice is not complete without resting in the corpse pose for some time. I think anything under five minutes is not long enough. After all you want to come out of your practice feeling both energized and relaxed.

10. A class with too many farts and fart jokes. I think fart experiences will happen at some time in your yoga practice, but too many people get caught up in the aromas. However a good laugh once in a while can help some to relax.

I am sure there are many other things that you have experienced which may have killed your yoga class. I am interested to hear them.

Remember that everything you do experience is something that both your mind and spirit is seeking out in some way and form. So there is something to be learned and taken from every yoga class and experience. That is why a yoga class is subjective and different people will be attracted to different types of classes and teachers.

Whatever your experience is in a yoga class the important thing to remember is to have fun, laugh and don’t take it too seriously. The same goes for this article.


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Author: Jai Kai

Editor:  Travis May

Photo: Yoga in Real Life

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