10 things your yoga teacher wants you to know and some random babbling

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I get 60 minutes. That’s it.  60 minutes to make you sweat a little, stretch a little, relax a little, work towards enlightenment a little…wait what? Shut the front door, that’s not possible!

Picture it, you get to class, you arrive, set up your mat, set your water bottle down, line up your blocs, straps, blankets, whatever you like, all around you so they’re readily available.  If you’re like me, they’re lined up with the lines on the floor because otherwise its chaos and OMG how can I expect to relax in this environment…?  Oh, am I the only one that does that? Weird, moving on…

Class begins, there’s somewhere between 1 and 25 people in a class, some can rock out a dancers pose like a prima ballerina, some are struggling to grab their left foot.  We’re all over the place.  Ensuring that everyone gets an enjoyable class means I can’t streamline the focus to suit any one person perfectly so I aim for a more relaxed sort of class that would suit anyone but to do that, sacrifices need to be made here and there.

I offer as much instruction, tips, adjustments as I can, but they’re often missed because there’s simply not enough time to get it all out.  Also I’m incapable of saying anything without adding every..single…detail..  So here’s a list, small but hopefully useful.

  1. Be mindful – Ya, I know, it’s a buzzword that’s been floating around for a while and in my honest opinion, it’s too vague to be useful.  I use the words but I follow up with “your body”. So basically, just pay attention to your body and how it feels.  If it doesn’t feel right, adjust the position, and if you’re not sure how, ask me. Raise your hand, speak up, send me the stink eye and I’ll help.  There’s always a modification.  Always!
  2. Check your shit at the door – In the resent wise words of a good friend “Be present”.  How does this translate to your practice? Leave your grocery list, to-do list, your sense of urgency, your ego at the door. Don’t bring it on to your mat.  It’s 60 minutes and then you can go back to stressing about all of the stuff (although I’d rather you didn’t).  Trust that I won’t let shavasana go too long and keep you past the allotted class time.  (I see you tapping your fingers) You will be rolling your mat back up in plenty of time to make it the grocery store, soccer game, appointment your worrying about.
  3. Check your ego at the door – Did I not mention ego at #2?  We all have one, but how it’s functioning is what is questionable so just leave it behind.  It’s not a competition.  If it was, I’d be very disappointed in my own practice because many of my students are considerably more flexible than I am, and that’s OK. We all start from a different place for a different reason, but what’s important is that you start.
  4. No one is looking at your bum – I promise. The rest of the room is probably worrying about the same thing and soo not thinking about your bum but worrying about their own bum.
  5. Take off your socks – they’re slippery, you can’t get a good grip on standing postures and degrades the quality and effectiveness of the posture.  Also, I don’t care if you need a pedicure.  I probably do too. So just take them off OK? No one’s looking, see #4.
  6. It’s OK to sit one out – Can’t stand Eagle pose? Had a bad day and struggling a little more than usual? Sit it out. Take a break, chill out, lie on the floor, grab some water.  It’s all good. You showed up, that’s all that matters.
  7. Use the effing props – That’s what they’re there for.  Standing in Tree pose is far more effective with your toe on the floor than wobbling around all over the place.  Cut yourself some slack, then concentrate on the rest of your body.  You’ll be far better off. You’ll be amazed how much more you get out of dancer with a strap.  Consider it an Inspector Gadget extendable arm.  Back tight? Sit on a block, and thank me later.
  8. Have fun – It’s OK to have fun.  It’s not a race to enlightenment.  There’s no hard and fast rule about what a yoga class should be like.  Relax a little.  I consider it an accomplishment if I can get at least a little chuckle out of every class but I’ll always aim for the belly laugh.
  9. Ask questions – I don’t know what you know or don’t know, you know? Please ask if you’re unsure.  I’ll do my best to give you an answer and if I don’t have it, I will find it for you. Also, tell me when something doesn’t feel right or hurts or if there is something wrong.  I won’t single you out, but I will adjust the class or offer suggestions to modify your practice and make it work for you.
  10. We are human – please be patient with me, and be patient with yourself. We have good days and bad. Some days I’m exhausted and I can’t tell left from right.  (who am I kidding, I get those wrong on the best of days) I promise to show up and do my best to be patient and guide you through your practice each week.

There’s probably a million other things that could be said but this is a good start.  I look forward to meeting you on the mat. Namaste!

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