In the time, I have been a yoga teacher, I have received many emails and have had conversations with students and teachers alike that when they started practicing yoga they were very intimidated to go to a class. There were many reasons why, but the one that stood out most to me-was time and time again someone would say, they didn’t know what they were doing and didn’t want to look like a fool.
These same people finally gussied up the courage to go to a class only to have their fears confirmed. Either the teacher didn’t have enough knowledge to see there was a new student in their class, or they just didn’t notice. I hear this a lot and I too was one of these students when I began my practice years ago. Granted now that I teach, it became my passion to teach to those students that wanted to discover a practice so I teach beginner yoga, as well as gentle and restorative so I make it a point to see if there is someone new in my class and help them to feel accepted without drawing too much attention. It is our job as yoga teachers to make everyone who attends classes to feel accepted so they will come back. I am not sure if you know this but the more people you have in your classes the more money you will make. If that isn’t incentive, I don’t know what is. I am not getting rich off of teaching yoga but I still have mouths to feed at home including my own.
It upsets me to hear that teachers aren’t taking time to nurture new students. In western medicine this is called bed side manner. If you have a doctor that isn’t kind to you and solely focused on the diagnosis or opinion without taking the time to nurture their patients, then more than likely you will seek out someone who is nicer, or you get turned off and feel that all doctors are the same. We as yoga teachers have a responsibility to nurture, and help create an environment where all students are created equally. Now-some teachers could say- “well if I have a student in my class that is new to yoga and I am teaching a more advanced practice, than they shouldn’t be there. “Well my response is- it doesn’t matter. If you are a good teacher than you are creating a safe space for everyone to feel welcome no matter their experience level.
So please, as a new student, or a well experienced one, it is your job to speak up. If an instructor isn’t teaching the style of class that was described or your fears of not wanting to go back are confirmed, because the teacher isn’t noticing, then please write or call your studio, and tell them. It only makes us better teachers when we can hear and be open to this feedback. Our yoga practice is here to serve our bodies and minds and honesty is the foundation of the relationships that we build in our lives on and off the mat.
Tiffany (RYT 200®) is a student and teacher of yoga living in Baltimore, Maryland.
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