I've gone to yoga classes where I grit my teeth for the entire 60 minutes, loathing the teacher with the passing of each second. But then there are those classes where I feel like a halo hangs above my yoga instructor's head, and that she can do no wrong. Having a love/hate relationship with different yoga instructors is perfectly normal. The key is learning to work with your yoga instructor to get the most out of your practice. Here are some tips to help you achieve this.
- Your teacher doesn't have it in for you. Sometimes my yoga teacher will circle me like a helicopter, singling me out and making me feel like I'm the only one in the room who can't get the pose just right. Newsflash! I'm taking it way too personally, and since I have my head upside down for the majority of the class, I don't know who else he or she is circling too. Your instructor isn't secretly thinking you suck at plank pose, or getting mad if you can't wrap your left leg around your right leg in eagle pose. They want to make sure you are doing a pose safely and comfortably and would much rather you use a block or strap to assist with certain poses than strain yourself.
- Just say no (thanks). I went to a yoga studio in San Francisco that had a pile of poker chips sitting on the check-in counter. I thought it was a bit odd, but then noticed a sign beside them saying "Place one of these on the top right corner of your mat if you prefer not to be adjusted by the instructor or the instructor's assistant." At first I thought I wouldn't want to be "that person" with the poker chip on my mat, but then I realized that it's great they have these because it takes away the need for there to be any unnecessary communication that interrupts your practice.
Personally, I love being adjusted since most of my yoga classes are in studios without any mirrors, so as much as it may feel like I'm in the right position, sometimes I need help. Also, when my instructor pushes me deeper into a pose, it can feel exhilarating. It's sort of like a masseuse changing from a Swedish massage technique to a deep tissue massage on a really sore muscle. Sometimes you just need to go a little deeper! But if you don't have any poker chips at your studio, and you prefer not to be helped during class, simply tell your instructor "no thank you," and they will move on to the next student. Always remember that your personal space is your personal space.
- Keep breathing and learn lots. I've taken numerous yoga classes from different instructors. Yoga isn't really a one-size-fits-all kind of practice. Try various types of yoga, and experiment with different teachers until you get into a groove. Kind of like elementary and high school, you will have those teachers who inspire you to be a better student, and help get you excited about yoga. Once you do find a teacher or two that you love, strive to work hard at your practice, and absorb as much yoga goodness as you can from your instructor. You'll find that your focus and discipline from class will carry into other areas of your life, and you'll be inspired to keep practicing.
New to yoga? Here are a few things to expect during your first class.
Source: Flickr User lululemon athletica