A Yoga Teacher’s Wish List


No, I’m not going to write about that tank top I’m dying to get my hands on at Lululemon or those hot yoga shorts that are just screaming my name.  This is a different kind of wish list.  This post is about the wishes I have for my students.

I love my students. I really do, it’s not something that yoga teachers are just supposed to say. It’s honestly a privilege to witness their practice as it develops and fun to get to know them as people outside of the studio. Some of my favorite people are the yogis I get to spend time with throughout the week. Each student is unique as to why they want to have a yoga practice and why they have decided to continue to strive to be their best selves in and outside of the studio. And because of this I wish the absolute best for them, so in that spirit I thought I ‘d give you just a glimpse at a handful of wishes that I’m pretty sure every yoga instructor holds in their heart for all of their students.

Wish #1 – To be able to arrive to class with time to spare. Are you one of those yogis that pull into the parking lot as the teacher is locking up the door to start class? Do you rush into the studio, heart rate high and slightly out of breath before you’ve even roll out your mat? It’s time to rethink your approach to your start to class.

I know life can be stressful and the day is jam-packed with activity from the moment your feet hit the floor, but try and see if you can leave the house for your yoga class just 5 minutes earlier than you normally do. Maybe even 3 minutes will do.

When you arrive to class with a couple of minutes to spare I guarantee you will have a better class. You get to start from a place of peace instead of a place of stress. You don’t skate into the hot room during the second set of Pranayama Breathing, being too late to get into the room for the first set. You might even get to say hello to your instructor and fellow practitioners and focus on being here now and appreciating that present moment. A lot can be gained in your practice by finding a few extra minutes and cultivating the discipline of being on time for class

Wish #2 – To always let your instructor know what’s going on with you. So many times I teach a class and can tell a student is struggling from some sort of injury. You can guess what the probable causes are, but it’s only a guess. If you are coming back to your practice after a surgery, are trying to prevent having surgery, are experiencing any kind of pain, had a mishap outside of the room, ran a marathon for the first time over the weekend, and so on – we need to know. The more we know about you, the more we can help you with your practice.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal. As you are checking in for class mention you are dealing with something. Ask if there are any precautions to take as you go through the class or if the teacher can take an extra look at a certain posture to make sure you have the right alignment. We are there for you. Let us help you.

Wish #3 – To take the correction or adjustment. We are not trying to boss you around or point out that you are not good enough. When a yoga teacher suggests a correction or adjustment in a posture it is for your own benefit. We want you to get the most out of your practice. We want your mind, body and spirit to find balance and healing through the yoga. Having good alignment in a posture can facilitate this. It can also keep you safe from experiencing pain or injury. Be open to correction. Be ready to learn more every time you come to class. Keep your mind open.

Wish #4 – To use that correction or adjustment in every class. There’s nothing better than seeing a student take a correction and realize a deeper expression of a posture. They heard the correction. They listened to it. They understood it. And they performed the adjustment properly. Awesome.

Then 2-weeks later that student is in your class and not even trying to do the posture the right way. The correction has either been forgotten or ignored.

We all need to be reminded of things now and then, but once you’ve received and truly understood a correction or adjustment to get you in the right alignment or to move you deeper into the asana, consider it part of your practice from there on out. That means every time you get into Half Moon Pose you want to make sure that bottom shoulder isn’t collapsing towards the back wall but pushing forward to maintain the two shoulders in one line. Every. Time. (Please know that this is just one example of a common correction given to students during a yoga class – this may be something your working on, it may be something you’ve already accomplished.)

Wish #5 – To listen to your body. Your body will tell you when it’s had enough. It will also tell you when you’re not eating right, not hydrated, or not breathing correctly. Listen to what the body is telling you always. Yoga is not about ripping the body apart to get your self into a posture. It’s about being truly present in your body and in your breath and feeling the posture. You only do what you can do in any given moment. Have fun with where the body is today – it will never be in the same place again.

Wish #6 – To stay in Final Savasana. That final Savasana is awesome. It’s a treat to finally relax after a long session. Yet, so many students rip out of that room like someone just yelled, “Fire!” Look, we know you have to get going. We know you have a life outside of the yoga studio. But 2 minutes of relaxation is not going to kill you, it will do quite the opposite. 5 minutes of lying there, doing nothing, just breathing is even better. Try it once – I challenge you to stay in that posture for 5 minutes – and you will never get up too quickly again. All of your stuff is waiting for you whether you take the Savasana or not. Take the time for you. You are worth it.

Wish #7 – To ask questions. You felt a weird pain in your leg when you were in a certain posture. You’re not really sure of the grip when you were in another posture. What the heck is 80/20 breathing? Your yoga instructor is there for you. Don’t be shy or think that your question is stupid. We want to help you. The whole reason we became yoga teachers was to share the yoga with others. We might not have all of the answers, but if we don’t readily know how to help you, most yoga teachers will try and find a solution through various resources in order for you to continue enjoying your practice.

Whew! Was that enough wishes for the week? Teachers out there – did I miss anything? Students – what about you? What do you wish for your practice or for your instructors?  Keep it kind, keep it positive, keep shining your light….

Originally posted to viewsfromthepodium.com on October 28, 2014

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