10 Secrets From a Yoga Teacher
First of all, we are not a doctors.
While we are totally honored when students let us know about their medical conditions or ask us for modifications for their injuries, at the end of the day we are not medical professionals. To become a yoga teacher you have to complete a 200 hundred hour training. TWO HUNDRED HOURS. That's it! While that is a lot of yoga, it's not all medical information and we for sure are not equipped to tell you what to do about your broken tailbone. If something really hurts, that really sucks, but we can pretty much only tell you what yoga poses to avoid. If you really feel like something isn't right, go see your doctor or a specialist! They probably can help you way more than we can. And they will actually know what they are talking about.
We also for sure are not therapists. We wish that we knew how to counsel all of my students through their darkest times, but all we are equipped to do is teach you a really epic class that will get you out of your head for a little bit. We are there for you and love seeing on your mat, especially when we know you're going through some shit. But ultimately (and ethically!) we can't guide you on how to handle your mental or physical health. That's the job of a professional.
But! If you do want to chat with your yoga teacher about your body that's totally cool. In fact, we love it. But please know that if something outside of the norm is going on in that little bod of yours chances are we have no idea what it means and might need you to give us a little more information so that we can help you out appropriately. Got it? Cool. Thanks. Now please stop asking us how to fix your broken bones. We aren't being coy. We really don't know.
Sometimes we struggle through class too.
I would be lying if I told you that I was able to blast through every class that I went to. Actually, if we are being totally honest, I spend a lot of time modifying or chillin' in Child's Pose. Yoga teachers- particularly full time teachers- are moving around a LOT so we usually are careful with our energy reserves. Plus, sometimes a class is just really fucking hard and that's OK too.
Also? We are definitely not always zen.
There's a quote circulating in the yoga world that is something along the lines of I do yoga because punching people in the face isn't socially acceptable. Yeah. Yoga is many things: an incredible workout, a great stress-reliever, a time to just chill the fuck out, etc. I would love to say that I am always *blissed out* but the truth is that I need a solid few hours of working out to be reasonably calm. Most yoga teachers dove into the yoga world because it helped seriously improve their lives. Which is why we do it! Because sometimes we can be chill, but we also deal with all the same frustrations of being a human that you do. And being zen is a requirement of our job, so sometimes we fake it. Shh! Don't tell.
We don't all live off of green juice.
Sometimes this is a little taboo to talk about, but yogis don't eat health foods all the time. At least not most yogis. While yogis, like most people who love to work out, are more in tune with their bodies, we still totally love to binge from time to time. A lot of us still drink alcohol and eat processed sugar (DONUTS ARE LIFE!) and like to live a little. When I first started practicing I thought that all my teachers ate like, kale and water, for every meal.
We all have terrible resting yoga faces.
You've heard of resting bitch face, right? When somebody just looks crazy mean/scary/angry but they really aren't? Well, my friend, your resting yoga face is the namaste equivalent. Pretty much every student looks like they want to murder somebody when they do yoga, and that's OK. That, or they look eerily calm like... maybe they aren't a human at all! Yoga requires a lot of concentration and a lot of body awareness, so it totally makes sense that your face might not be the calmest. Don't worry- we don't take the rage in your eyes personally.
Everybody farts in class.
I'm going to tell you a secret of the trade: yoga teachers don't care if you fart in class. Obviously don't be a total fart monster (especially in a heated room!), but if you let out a little toot during some complicated poses I promise you your teacher will not care. It is such a regular part of the job that they probably won't notice. I once had a student who didn't come to the studio for a week because they were so mortified that they farted in class. I hadn't even noticed! We laughed about it later, thank GAWD. But seriously, guys, as long as you aren't farting up a storm every single class I promise that your teacher will neither notice or care. We are trying to make sure that you feel really great and are safe in your practice. If that means you fart a little bit, rad.
Sometimes teaching is really stressful.
Sometimes in a yoga class disaster will strike. Things will be going great, and then one student will go rogue, and then the rest will follow. It's pure mayhem! This usually happens when a super seasoned yogi goes in the front of the room, starts adding on more advanced postures, and then the students stop listening to what we are saying and follow them instead. It's totally frustrating for the teacher and for the students following along, because they get so confused and then can't enjoy class. It's usually pretty funny, but sometimes it can make some really weird stuff happen in class.
Also stressful: teaching to a room of hungover people after a major holiday and worrying that they might start a vomit chain-reaction. This happened to me Halloween 2015 and it was *v hectic*.
We think yoga classes are weird sometimes, too.
I once went to a yoga class with my friend and we spent 20 minutes doing jumping jacks. And then we sang. I am all about getting weird sometimes, but even that was too weird for me. There are about a million different types of yoga (you know, give or take) out there in the world and even yoga teachers don't like all of them. But that's OK! There's something out there for everybody, and it's OK to run into something that is totally weird. Just know that each yogi usually has a few different kinds of yoga that they practice, but that doesn't mean that they practice all the yoga. There are some things that we try once, put in our back pocket, and decide to never do again.
Taking a good yoga picture is really hard.
IT IS SO HARD TO GET A GOOD YOGA PICTURE YOU GUYS YOU DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND. It's all about angles, lighting, looking relaxed (ahem, no resting yoga face), and also making sure that your alignment is on fleek, as the young kids say. Taking yoga pictures involves a lot of falling over (see above), a lot of holding you breath, a lot of trying not to fart, and a lot of terrible pictures that will make you want to scream my chins look like WHAT?! I realize that most yoga pictures look super zen, but they usually are a result of lots of effort, some great lighting, and many alignment adjustments.
We aren't always practicing.
I so, SO wish that all of my free hours were filled with taking magical yoga classes. That would be such a dream. But! That would be so hard on my body. Also, usually as yoga teachers we have really weird schedules. Teaching yoga means working at weird times when everybody wants to take class, like really early in the morning or late into the evening. Most yoga teachers don't have the luxury at teaching at just one yoga studio in one location, so we often are driving all around from studio to studio trying to stay zen and make it to work on time. Do we take rest days? Hell yes. But since we are yogis we also really value the balance of working hard and listening to our bodies. Plus, most of us have suffered from yoga injuries from going too hard, and we've learned that less is more.