I’m a yes-sir/ma’m-whatever-you-want-me-to-do kind of gal. I always have been. When I’m on my mat as a student instead of an instructor, I’ll do what the yoga teacher leading the class asks of me as much as I possibly can.
Through the years this has led to some super embarrassing moments.
Ever fling your body into a posture in the hopes that it will land? I have. Only to meet my face with the floor, or fall straight on my bum.
This was more in the early days – still in my twenties and early thirties and thinking I had this whole yoga thing figured out. Make the shape. Do anything to make the shape. I have to admit that’s what I was doing in the beginning.
So, a whole bunch of time has passed since that face-planting girl has attended class. Endless yoga teacher trainings later and a whole bunch of intensive yoga experiences taught me well what I wish I knew in those beginning years.
I could have told the yoga teacher, “No.”
It’s as simple as that. I honestly had no idea what I was doing back then, yet I felt the expectation was to get into the posture no matter what. When I look back on it, I should have asked a question to get the answers I needed to build the posture instead.
I personally love when one of my students tells me, “No.” And, here’s why:
You might have an injury or issue you have yet to tell me about.
And, as you say, “No,” you are taking accountability for your own health and well-being. (Also, please know I won’t ask you about it during class, but I will follow up with you on this afterwards in order to give you the tools you need to feel successful on your mat and in your practice.)
You are signaling to me you do not feel comfortable with the posture.
If you are uncomfortable attempting a yoga posture then I am not doing my job well and I can do better. So, I will give you a modification, teach you the first steps of the posture to help you build up to where we are working, or offer you an alternative posture to work on. Or, I can offer you a second demonstration in which I begin to use different words to explain the work. There are a ton of options here and they are all good. But, it’s on me to communicate where you should be working.Yo
You are simply out of steam.
If this is the case, having you stop for a moment is a good thing. When you’re out of steam, you get sloppy. And, sloppy is where everything goes wrong in a yoga practice. So, take care of you.
I so wish I had the guts or felt supported enough in my yoga beginnings to offer a, “No,” to the instructor. It’s okay to say, “No.”
If you do it in my class you’ll be met with a smile, oodles of encouragement, and maybe even cheers that you made the best decision for you.
Though I can’t guarantee you’ll never face-plant in a posture. Just know that if you do, you more than likely won’t be embarrassed, but instead laugh at the fun of the challenge the practice is bringing to you that day.
Live your life with no regrets. “No,” is not a bad word…. In yoga and in life off the mat.
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Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online yoga instructor for real people looking to do extraordinary things. On her own mat for well over fifteen years, Tori works to inspire others to develop a life long practice through her classes, workshops, in-person events, and retreats. Find out more about Tori now.