Om(g)

My regular (and favorite) yoga instructor wasn’t there Sunday and in her place was a teacher I try to avoid. Why? Because the one time I had her as a sub she went too quickly through the poses and insisted on running us through downward facing dog to plank sequences ad nauseam. Not only did I not feel like I was getting the proper instruction but I also felt like she was trying too hard to be a yogi.

Sunday’s class wasn’t any different.

She started by dissecting the OM. Or as she likes to say, Ah. Om. Mmm. She kept sounding it out like that over and over throughout class. As we readied ourselves to chant the three oms that begin each class she whipped out a harmonium. Oh yes, she did. And she played it while we chanted and then sang the Anusara invocation. It was horribly distracting because it sounded awful. There is something magical in the group chant- the voices ringing out in a singular, communal sound- but with the harmonium, the beauty of the voices was drowned out.

And that was just the beginning.

As class went on, she kept the air conditioning off but the lone door propped open with a singular box fan. In a packed room of at least 40 yoga students with temperatures reaching the 90s outside, she ran us through the first 20 minutes of class without any AC. WTF? Does she think this is Bikram? Finally, God bless her, a fellow student requested that the air be turned back on. BUT! The teacher never closed the door to the outside thus making the AC only partially effective.

Sigh.

For those who have taken yoga, you know that proper instruction is key to being successful in class. You’re bending your body in unlikely positions so you need a teacher who can both encourage and thoroughly describe how to pose your limbs. This teacher is not that person. Her instructions go something like:

Lift with your inner thighs! Point your pelvis towards the windows! Lower your seat! Use your inner feet to root up while your heart lifts, lifts, lifts. Feel the “ahhhh” and the “ohhhh”. Good! Now reach back with your heart but push forward with your hand. Keep your eyes soft, soft, soft. That’s the “mmmmm”.

And that was all for just one pose. Said in rapid-fire speak.

During a pause in the action, I look at Supple and said something like, “I want you to lift your vagina but push back with your butt.” She tried not to laugh too loudly. Then she was all, “I want you to take your breasts and reach them through your armpits towards your shoulder blades.” Then I was all, “Take your butt cheeks and make them expansive and soft. Lift with your big toe and feel the stretch.”

At least we had a laugh over it.

Don’t get me wrong- I love yoga. A good yoga class is akin to church to me. But this teacher is not my guru or my cup of tea. Not with her harmonium and her rambling, esoteric instructions. I’ll be skipping any class she is teaching from here on out.


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22 thoughts on “Om(g)

  1. What a bummer you weren’t able to adapt to this teacher. The words she used – it’s almost like I can feel my body moving to her instruction. That said, an annoying voice or one that is too loud or whose words come too fast can definitely break your focus. Guess it’s good to know you don’t click with her and can adjust your schedule accordingly.

  2. OMG is right – I don’t know how you got through that class without bursting out in laughter. And I think the AC thing would have sent me over the edge. What a fruitloop. Teachers like that give yoga a bad name.

  3. Can you complain about her? I mean in a nice way. She doesn’t sound effective at all. She should know her style isn’t working. I would bet it doesn’t work for more than just the two of you in class.

  4. I’m the same way – I’m totally partial to several yoga teachers and when one of my favorites isn’t there, it almost ruins my practice! But then I try to tap into my inner yogi and tell myself that a change in perspective is a good thing. I know, so zen of me 🙂

  5. Two things. First: the harmonium isn’t a traditional Indian instrument? Hmm. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Second, in all seriousness, I’m going to be starting yoga in the next month or two and I’m really, really new. (I’ve had one class. That’s it.) So I’m pretty much as new as new could be. It sounds like that class would have left me feeling dismayed and as though I was doing something wrong and as though yoga isn’t for me. (As it is, the different schools of yoga are mystifying. I’m still trying to figure it out.)

  6. One of my biggest pet peeves at my gym is the “instructors” who do not instruct and instructors who are not motivational. Some of them are so good and I love the classes but some of them… Trying doing a spin class at 5:45 with a ZOMBIE. Ugh!

  7. I was waiting for your instructor to actually be (surprise!) Tyra Banks, and she was about to tell you all to smize.

    Also, I didn’t know I had inner feet. Interesting.

  8. I definitely have favorite teachers, teachers I’ve grown out of, and teachers I love but won’t take class from because their style makes me uncomfortable. It definitely blows that students have to adapt to subs, but at the same time, I feel, like with dating, you get a feel for what works for you, what doesn’t, and you try a few on a couple of times and know that’s not how you roll. Good on you, sister!

    On a side note, yoga teacher training starts for me in October, so it definitely intrigues me to hear feedback like this! (Though, it sounds like she just doesn’t have a lot of common sense…)

  9. I bet there are people who like teachers like that. Some of her instructions sound similar to the ones on the DVDs I use… pushing all sorts of body parts toward or away from one another. I don’t think I would like an instructor like that in person!

  10. I’m a huge fan of yoga and go reguarly, but admit that i will never perfect the ‘lifted-vagina-pose’!

    So, I hear ya.

    The studio where I practice doesn’t advertise who teaches classes – they don’t want you to get too used to one particular teacher. And there’s something I admire about that now, 6 months after going there, even though it annoyed me at first. Sure, I have favourites. But the studio does a good job of making sure teachers stay true to the spirit of the class (hatha/ashtanga/yin/etc)

    I would definitely recommend providing some feedback to the studio. They deserve to know if students aren’t appreciating anyone in particular, so they can pay more attention to specific things when hiring.

    Namaste.

  11. I’m hesitant to try yoga since I moved. I had a teacher I loved at my old college and every semester I’d take yoga or pilates from her and I just loved her.

    I hope I can find someone here that I like just as much.

  12. I love yoga and really enjoy my instructor. This nut job would totally ruin the whole experience! I agree with you – just walk out if she is the instructor. Blech!

  13. I love the title of this post 🙂

    And I appreciate your point about the difference a good teacher can make! We have 3 basics classes at my studio with 3 different teachers, and I’ll only go to one. There’s just no reason to go to the others anymore – I’ve tried. Well, unless you and Supple want to come with me so we can goof off. 🙂 It sounds like fun!

  14. It’s unfortunate that there are so many bad yoga teachers out there. I think about this a lot, especially in regards to beginners and not knowing any better and maybe giving up after their first try.

    I took a class while I was up in Alaska this summer and the teacher I had was the worst! She deconstructed every pose in surya namaskara to the point of ridiculousness. Then she proceeded to make comments like “yogis will never get carpal tunnel and if for some reason you do, you can come back and punch me in the face.”

    UGH. Noted, never go back to her class!

  15. I have only taken one yoga class in my life (very recently, out of town) and the instructor was superb. I think. What do I know about yoga?

    But, seriously, if you taught yoga and told me to life with my vagina, I’d enroll for a bizillion sessions just for the giggles.

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