This is a new monthly series called, “Yoga Teacher Reflections.” To kick this series off I wanted to start by sharing what I’ve heard from students about their perception of their own practice as opposed to what most teachers actually notice.
1.) The student: You must be so grossed out by my sweat when you give me adjustments.
What the teacher cares about: Most yoga teachers spend 1/2 their week in sweaty spandex, that is last on their mind. Instead when a teacher is giving you an adjustment she is focusing on how she can help you to serve your body in the most intelligent way possible. All she cares that you do in that moment is focus on your breath and notice how the adjustment feels in the body.
2.) The student: I am afraid my teacher won’t think I am working hard enough if I take child’s pose during the practice.
What the teacher cares about: Your yoga teacher is your guide, but she cannot know exactly what is going on in your body. A student who opts out of a posture that is not serving them in that moment is an empowered student. That is a student who is dropping their ego and listening to their body to keep it safe which in turn helps to create a long lasting practice.
3.) The student: I am embarrassed that I took a lighter variation of the posture even though she knows I can do the peak pose.
What the teacher cares about: This is along the same lines as number two. Your teacher is not interested in a student that is throwing out peak pose after peak pose. If that is your practice in that moment, that’s awesome, but what the teacher would rather see is you slowing down to build your weaknesses up as opposed to exploiting your strengths to get you to a “higher” level of the asana (posture).
Ex: You are hyper flexible so you can drop straight into hanumansana (split) no problem. However, when you do that your pelvis is open and you are dumping into your low back. Instead, back off the pose slightly so that you can square your hips and activate your back foot to help keep you steady and safe.
4.) The student: I am a bad yogi, I cannot sit still (or keep my eyes closed, or stay awake,) in savasana (corpse pose).
What the teacher cares about: Although savasana may seem like a simple, peaceful pose at the end of a difficult practice, the truth is, savasana is a very complicated posture. If you are having a hard time with it, you are not alone. We do our asana (posture based) practice not so that we can look good in a bikini or have 5 minutes of shuteye on our sweaty yoga mats, but so that our body and mind is more equipped to handle the trials and tribulations of our meditation practice. The teacher wants you to be open to your body and mind in the last moments of your class. She wants you to experience your savasana and learn from it, not judge and shy away from it.
5.) The student: I am so sorry I haven’t been to class in weeks, I’ve been so busy with this and this and this.
What the teacher cares about: Although it is her goal to have students who practice regularly and dedicate time to their practice, your yoga teacher is not judging how much time you spend on, or off, your mat. She’s no newbie to a busy schedule and I assume has also spent time away from her mat longer than she would have liked. Truthfully, your teacher is happy when you do come to class. She’s excited to see you that day, she’s not focusing on how many times you haven’t shown up in the past, she’s focused on the practice at hand and wants you to be too.