Dear Sarcastic Yogi,
I am a newly retired yoga teacher / studio owner that moved to a new state. My beau and I joined a large corporate gym to get ready for ski season. The gym offers yoga classes with lots of hot yoga and power vinyasa. Basically, the yoga classes are an abomination, and an insult to the yoga tradition. The teaching skills are beyond frightening and the platitudes offered as wisdom are in the zone of ridiculous. Unfortunately, many people in class are ripe for injury and they and the teacher(s) are blissfully unaware.
Should I say something to management or keep an open mind to the benefits that students “believe they are receiving”. I am the only one that seems bothered. I am a bit shocked and a slightly ashamed that I am bothered.
I should probably stick strictly to the rowing machines and treadmills at the gym and only practice my yoga at home.
Have I gotten snotty with my yoga?
Snotty Yogini that wants to be mellow
Dear Snotty Yogini,
Thank you for writing. I understand your dilemma and have been in your position before. First, It sounds like you might be mourning your former yoga community and teachers which means taking to a new studio, or gym in this case, is all the more difficult. That being said, you shouldn’t have to withstand poor teaching. That doesn’t make you snotty, it makes you smart.
Keep in mind there is a difference between a new teacher struggling to figure things out but trying their best in earnest, and a teacher who is simply dangerous in their lack of understanding or even worse, don’t care about what they’re doing. It sounds like this case is the latter and if you genuinely believe that the students are susceptible to being hurt, speaking up is the wise thing to do.
I suggest being sensitive to the teachers in how you proceed. Remember when you were a teacher and how difficult it was to receive criticism about your teaching? I suppose you could walk up to them and say “you suck and my cactus teaches better yoga than you” but that would likely put them on the defensive and disable them from actually hearing you (or devastate them entirely)- neither of which I think you want to do.
Instead, try being inquisitive. If there were some specific things you noticed that were injurious, you could ask them after class why they were doing that. That could spur a conversation that may help them see their missteps. You could also approach management and express concerns about the safety of these teachers and encourage them to go witness for themselves what your concerns are. Though in the end if your efforts are ineffective, you could realize this isn’t your problem to solve even though your intentions are coming from a good place.
Seek out a good teacher close by and make it to their class once every week or two- even if they’re far away. It will make all the difference.
Sean Haleen (AKA the Sarcastic Yogi) is a full time yoga teacher in San Francisco (catch him at Yoga Tree Stanyan, Valencia, Hayes or Potrero). He in on the teaching faculty at Yoga Tree’s 200HR and 500HR teacher training program and has extensive studies in Anusara and Iyengar Yoga. Are you a student, teacher, or observer of yoga and have a question or conundrum? Write to Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org