• Katie

Everything Your Yoga Teacher Wants You to Know

Whether you’re rolling out your mat on a studio floor for the first time or consider your place of practice your second home, you may be wondering just what’s going through your yoga teacher’s mind before, during, and after class. Here’s a little insight into what we want you to know when you arrive on your mat.

We are there to help.

It’s easy to forget that we were once exactly where you are, whether that’s taking your first class in a room full of strangers, or showing up time and time again, eager to learn. If you have a question about a pose or a word you’ve never heard before, speak up! No one is expected to know it all (not even us!), whether it’s your first or 100th time on the mat.

… But we can’t read your mind.

We may ask if you are working with any injuries or physical limitations/conditions - and we’re trusting you to be transparent here. It’s not to make you feel bad or to assess what you “can’t” do - it’s to keep you safe and help you make the most of your practice. If you are on the mend from shoulder surgery and we have an intense shoulder-focused class planned, you’ll wish you spoke up very quickly. If you’re not comfortable sharing this information in front of the whole class, try to arrive a few minutes early to chat privately. If that’s not possible, just ask to speak with us privately at the start of class, and you can tell us quietly what’s going on in your body.

You can opt out of hands-on assists.

Adjustments aren’t to tell you you’re bad at yoga; in many cases, proper alignment is what prevents injuries. If we ask beforehand, “Do you mind if I adjust you?” you can absolutely say “No.” You don’t have to give a reason; we will find another way to help guide you into the safest form of the pose. If by chance we touch you without asking first, you are more than in your right to say, “I’m not comfortable with hands-on adjustments.” Don’t worry about offending us - it’s a touchy subject (no pun intended), and we totally understand.

Props are not just for beginners.

Most studios will provide props for their students to borrow - this may include blocks, blankets, straps, and more. They’re not to make a pose “easier”; they could make a pose more accessible, comfortable, or in some cases challenging! In some classes, we’ll tell you what props you’ll need for this class. Don’t assume you won’t “need” them, because depending on what we have planned, certain props may be required for all students - not just the ones who need them.

If there’s music, we spent a long time picking it.

Each song on our playlist was put there for a specific reason - maybe it’s the instruments, the vocals (if any), or the placement at just the right point in the sequence. It wasn’t a happy accident. There are likely many songs that almost made it on the list but were ultimately cut, or songs may have originally appeared in a different order; a lot goes into making a playlist - arguably, it could be just as important as the class itself.

And if there’s not, there’s a reason.

Just because a class isn’t set to music doesn't mean we “forgot.” I’ve practiced yoga with music, without music, with some music and some silence. We may have music going the whole time. We may center in silence and then play something. We may play and pause music during the duration of the class. Whatever the choice is, just as methodically as the songs were picked out, so this decision was made, too. Maybe it’s so you can hear the sound of your breathing, tune in to your mind, or listen to other sounds around you. Just trust us!

We’re human, too.

Teaching yoga and spreading positivity and wellness does not make us immune from bad days, personal struggles, or bumps in the road. We may be walking into the studio minutes after receiving pretty bad news, or putting a fight with our partner on hold to get to class on time. By the time we arrive, you won’t know anything’s wrong, and we’ll be wearing a smile, because our job is to give you the best yoga experience possible. And finally, with that in mind…

Our ultimate goal is to give you a class you love.

If we did a pose or sequence that you enjoyed, tell us! If you were loving a song that came on in class, tell us that, too! We are always changing what we’re doing and love to hear what’s working for you.

What questions do you wish you could ask your yoga teacher? Let me know in the comments below!

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