There comes a time in every yogis life (usually more than once) when they find themselves in a yoga class that they really aren’t enjoying. You might find yourself hating the teacher, hating the person next to you and hating yoga in general. So what do you do? Do you stick it out quietly and never come back again, or do you pack up and walk out? Here is out guide to yogi etiquette in those not-so-enjoyable classes:
Did you have a bad day at work? A fight with your partner? Are you stressed out, unwell or injured? Perhaps the reason you are having a terrible time has nothing to do with the class or teacher, and everything to do with what’s going on internally. Yoga moves a lot of energy around and not all energy is pleasant. It can bring up some pretty uncomfortable emotions including anger, rage, sadness and frustration. While it isn’t fun to sit with these feelings it probably is good to deal with them and properly feel them, so see if you can breathe your way through them and come out the other side feeling better for it.
2. Check In with your Judgements
We unconsciously judge every single person we meet. We stereotype them and put them in a box and label them as ‘liked’ or ‘not liked’. If you find yourself feeling that you really don’t like a particular teacher, maybe it’s a good time to check in with what judgements you may have made quickly, and see if you can unmake them. Often the people we dislike the most share qualities that we have in ourselves. If fact, it is their mirroring of our own traits that really seems to ruffle our feathers! They can be our greatest teachers if only we don’t write them off too quickly! So ask yourself to find something in the class to learn. Challenge yourself to see the good in the teacher, in the class and most importantly in your own practice. If by the end of the class you’ve found nothing, maybe that teacher just didn’t resonate with you and it’s time to move on, but if you did find something (even just something small), maybe a second chance is in order.
3. See if you feel safe
In most situations I would always suggest staying for a class no matter how much you’re disliking it (even if you spend 90% of it in childs pose). Remember that the teacher at the front of the room is as human as you – they have bad days, bad weeks and the exact same emotions as you do (and often the same fear of failure and rejection!). They genuinely want to make you happy and teach you something, so if you can avoid making them feel uncomfortable then consider it your good deed for the day. The exception to this rule of course is if they make you feel unsafe either physically or emotionally - your personal safety should be your number one priority 100% of the time. In these situations, giving feedback to the studio manager or another teacher there is vital – hopefully ensuring that this doesn’t happen again.
Remembering that yoga is a spiritual practice is important. Unfortunately our spiritual growth and progression isn’t always filled with fluffy bunnies, rainbows and sunshine. In saying that it is definitely important to find a teacher (or teachers) who resonate with you and your beliefs. Thankfully there is a veritable smorgasbord out there, so you’re sure to find your niche. Try not to give up straight away – don’t discount a teacher on one class, or a studio on one teacher. The longer you’re practicing the more you’ll start to realise that the hard work goes on inside, not outside. Whoever is guiding you shouldn’t matter as much as you guiding yourself. After all, you are your own best teacher!