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For Yoga Teachers Only: 10 ways to piss off your students

March 28, 2013

It’s only fair that since last week I published “10 ways to piss off your yoga teacher,” I flip the yoga mat around and point the finger at myself and my fellow teachers out there.

How To Be A Great Yoga Teacher

AKA “10 ways to piss off your yoga students”

1. A woman running while talking on her cell phone and holding a yoga matDon’t be late. Of course it happens to all of us especially when the damn L2 bus is never, ever on time. If you do happen to be late, remember, they’ve been waiting for you and are starting to get anxious at the prospect that you’re a no-show and they’re not getting their much needed yoga medicine. Don’t add to their stress by running in, tossing your mat down loudly and throwing on your music. Wear the sense of calm on your sleeve (even if you don’t have it), walk in gracefully, apologize briefly and begin class as you would normally.

2. Don’t end late. I know there’s never enough time to get in all you planned and savasana is never long enough, but respect your students’ schedules as they respect yours (hopefully).

3. Don’t touch too much. Don’t touch a person more than 3-4 times in a class is my rule of thumb. (If you can get around to everyone that much then you’re lucky!) Too much assisting can lead a student to believe they’re doing a lot of things “wrong” and lead to them leaving class feeling inadequate (not to mention they won’t like you). Be deliberate with your assists and help a student with an even mix of correcting assists and ones that help them deepen a posture.

4. Don’t touch too little. No matter the size of the class, you should be able to get to everyone at least once (unless it’s a convention sized class). This tip is about the quality of your assist, not how many times you touch a person. Just like no one likes a weak handshake, no yogi likes a wussy assist. Be firm, deliberate, and compassionate. Take time to enter their space, be with them, and exit…very mindfully. Just like you’d pick up and put down a newborn in her crib. No joke.

5. Don’t be holier-than-thou. Nothing is worse than a preachy teacher. Being a yoga teacher doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, it simply means you’ve been trained and certified to share your experience of yoga with others. Don’t tell your students how to live their lives. Just give them the space to be themselves and they’ll be so happy.

6. Don’t play Rihanna followed by Krishna Das. Seriously people. Think about your playlists and create them thoughtfully so that they flow with your class. The “shuffle” function should be turned off in yoga class.

7. Don’t take your bad day out on your students. This is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of being a teacher. But whatever crapola has happened to you that day cannot come into class. Drop it at the door. I’ve had to teach a class right after a break-up, getting fired, during a fever, and countless other shit-ass days. They may have not been my best classes, but I never take it out on them. If it’s that bad, find a sub. There’s NOTHING WORSE than an angry yoga teacher.*chaturanga 001

8. Don’t call it an advanced class just because you ask me to do 4 chatarungas in a row. The only time I almost walked out of a class was when the teacher thought “advanced yoga” meant doing a lot of push ups repeatedly. This isn’t boot camp, it’s yoga. So if you don’t know what an advanced class is, don’t teach it.**

9. Don’t talk too much. Sorry to the Anusara yoga teachers out there but I don’t know what they taught you in school. A teacher who is constantly chattering from minute 1 to minute 75 will drive a student nuts. No one can pay attention and absorb that much info and it’s likely you’re just filling in the empty spaces with cues that don’t mean anything, or you’re blabbing on about the universe and no one really cares.savsana group

10. Don’t ever, EVER, skip savasana. A teacher did this once to us, and I never went back. Even if all you have is 1 minute, take it, don’t skip it.

*the best policy for being a yoga teacher that will guarantee all your students will come back for more: imagine every student who walks into your class has just had the worst day of her life. And treat her with that much warmth, gentleness, and compassion. Because people DO walk into yoga class after the worst day of their lives. Because it makes them feel better. So you just never know.

**the definition of an advanced yoga class is this…eh, I think this subject should be devoted to an entire post. Stay tuned.

The question is: What has a teacher done in your class that drove you NUTS and made you NEVER want to come back? It’s important for us to know. So let us in on it so we can fix it and be the best teachers possible.

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