Having been a practitioner for many years now, and a studio owner/teacher for 10 years, I find I can rarely go to class without assessing the quality of the instruction. Recently I attended a class at my new gym, which I love. The instructor seemed like a really nice woman too, but probably not the most professional and that really did affect my external experience. Here are some of my pet peeves (from this class and others) and why they should matter as a teacher, or a student.
1. Entering class noisily and without decorum. When you enter your class it should be peaceful, not in a loud boisterous way, talking with one of your “friends”/students about how wasted everyone was, how you washed his pajama bottoms for him, how stoned you were, etc. just isn’t serene, doesn’t set a nice mood and honestly is too personal to be professional.
2. Hollering – and I mean loudly – at everyone who enters the class (especially when late) to “check” they are actually there (eg: “OMG – is that YOU Holly?!?!”). Everyone likes to be acknowledged in class, quietly walking up to students to greet them is great for building rapport – ignoring new students – not so much. My all time pet peeve? Accusingly asking students, “Did you pay for class and sign in up front? I checked the list before I got here and I didn’t SEE any new names,” without introducing yourself, yeah – you probably won’t see too many more new names.
3. Starting class with some long winded discussion about the new moon, how you’re a hippy, and other things that have nothing to do with yoga and are more about yourself and your own life. Especially annoying when you start forcing your feelings on everyone else by making broad sweeping generalizations and statements. Not everyone feels the same way you do, get over it, yoga isn’t about proselytizing and you need to meet your students where they are at, not where you think everyone should be.
4. Never looking up from your mat, or even better, never opening your eyes during class. Personally I’m at the point in my practice where I don’t need someone to correct me, my proprioceptors work pretty well, however; when half your class has a quizzical look on their faces and you haven’t noticed it or more than half have their elbows way too wide for headstand – you may want to get off your own head and check around, do your job, teach a class – try NOT to need your insurance. Again, professionalism and safety of others – I don’t care if you can do a handstand in the middle of the floor, I’d prefer not to hear people breaking their toes as they kick themselves wildly into the wall to try it too.
5. Mentioning how hung over you are in class. Do I need to discuss this one? I am quite forgiving of teachers who haven’t mastered all of the poses – I surely haven’t – but I never fall over in a pose or have poor balance because I am hung over and I don’t think I should win a prize for that – its just professionalism rearing its head again.
6. CHakra. Pronounce it correctly. Especially when you seem to be able to use other Sanskrit words like CHaturanga and ardha CHandrasana. In fact, take a class on Sanskrit or pick up a book, it’s an important part of yoga…don’t know why? You should get your money back from your teacher training.
7. Have some idea of how your class is going to go. I never taught from a lesson plan but always knew what I planned on doing and had some contingencies – or at least props near by. You lose credibility as a teacher and trust when you start to get into a pose and then blurt out “maybe I should have thought this out, we may need props, oh well we are all at different levels – just try it and see.” In the same vain you have to be flexible enough to know when a class isn’t ready for what you thought you would offer and be able to change it up.
8. Music, no music, doesn’t bother me either way. My teacher trainers never used music and they had solid reasons – but my students always like music so I used it. Either way I shouldn’t have to strain to hear your instructions, AFAA and ACE both have guidelines for safe listening volumes – yeah that’s right you may want to check out a group fitness training certificate if you plan on teaching in a gym – it makes you more marketable and knowledgeable.
9. Pushing any student to go farther. Yes, we are here to instruct, to correct, to modify and create healthy poses – but challenging a student is really their own deal. I’m not omnipotent so I am guessing neither are other teachers – and I’m not in my students’ bodies so how could I ever dare to verbally assault or physically assault a student into going past their comfort zone? Professional liability wise it should never be done (that’s a talk with your insurance provider), but yogic wise – as in ethically – it definitely isn’t anyone’s place to push a student past their point – the whole ahimsa thing on so many levels comes up – not to mention Patanjali’s thing about “removing the root cause of suffering a pain”… yoga is to REMOVE pain people – not create it. Any class or teacher that says otherwise…RUN! If you are that teacher and 1).you didn’t know or weren’t told then now you know and yoga is about growth 2). if you believe otherwise do us all a favor and quit teaching.
10. No savasana. I just hate dislike you now. If you are the student who never stays for this challenging last pose I am sorry that its importance was never truly expressed to you, but if you are the teacher withholding this from class you need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why you teach at all. I love me some savasana – it’s the whole reason I deal with all of the aforementioned crap and don’t walk out the moment you try to recollect some book you read this weekend and how you think the metaphor applies to your life (I was a literature major and an English teacher so this one is a big pet peeve, see #3) please don’t snatch the last bit of redemption away from these 90 minutes.
Well, that is my Top 10 List of Yoga Class Pet Peeves. I hope you found it both humorous and informative as I find most of my opinions to be – since they’re mine.
For all of the sour right before the New Year, here’s a little sweetness from the last kids’ yoga class I taught before I moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest.