They do not prepare you at any teacher training for some of the awkward situations you find yourself in once you have become a yoga teacher. Instead, it’s tons of yoga, anatomy, lectures on yoga philosophy, and everything you would come to expect when preparing to become an instructor.
But honestly, they should take you aside and let you know that there will be moments when you think, “How in the heck did I get into this situation?” or, “Why did that person feel they could say that to me?” that you could never have guessed at when you first begin to lead class.
Here are a few of my most awkward yes-I-am-a-yoga-teacher-but-gosh-I-thought-you-knew-I-was-also-a-real-person-moments.
Awkward Situation #1
I know I’m not the only yoga teacher to experience this one.
You are out running errands – groceries, filling up the gas tank, getting your hair done – a student who is also out and about getting their everyday stuff done recognizes you and shouts for all to hear, “I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!”
Upon hearing this you blush and look around to see who has heard this statement. Let’s face it, most people who have heard it are going to assume you do something quite different than teach yoga. Strangers will instantly look you up and down to imagine you as a stripper or nude model, shaking their heads in wonder at the woman or man that looks so normal.
The thing is, I know I look completely different in jeans, a shirt, and shoes, not to mention that my hair is actually dry and I do enjoy mascara and blush. If you knew how often I actually was out in my everyday life and a student walks by without a blink of an eye you would be surprised – I am unrecognizable to most of you as I’m not dripping in sweat as I implore you to try a little harder.
When you see your yoga instructor please try not to let this seemingly harmless statement rip out of your mouth. We are glad to see you and happy to chat with you, but do not want to be thought of as an exotic dancer or porn star.
Awkward Situation #2
Last summer my husband asked me to stop and grab a bottle of tequila so he could make margaritas for taco night at our house. Just out of class and rushing to get everything done that day, I stopped into the grocery store next to the studio I was currently teaching at, grabbed some odds and ends and a bottle of tequila and got into line to pay.
Checking my phone as I stood there, a student I barely knew got in line behind me. Looking up, we met each other’s eyes, smiled and said hello. She then glanced at the groceries I had put on the conveyor belt, looking wide eyed at the bottle of tequila and then glanced away.
She probably was not judging me, but for some reason I felt like I had let her down somehow. I was a yoga teacher. I was supposed to be meditating for hours on end and twisting into impossible positions when I wasn’t leading class. Mygrocery list should include wheat grass and gluten free bread.
She probably could not imagine tequila was something I consume every once in awhile. I am a normal person. I eat food. I like a good glass of wine or a nice cocktail. have a hankering for birthday cake and sweets.
And, when I got home that day I told my husband that next time he can pick up the tequila.
Awkward Situation #3
Nothing for me was more embarrassing than telling my husband that he needed to repair a hole I put in the wall from coming out of a headstand the wrong way a few years ago. For months beforehand he would call up to me from the family room, “Be careful, babe! You’re going to put a hole in the wall.” And then it happened. Thankfully he’s a handy guy…
Awkward Situation #4
Have you ever spent 90-minutes calling someone the wrong name repeatedly? I have. I always feel awful if it happens.
If I am calling you the wrong name, please let me know. It is not intentional. I am generally good at names. It’s my thing. But, sometimes I get my wires crossed and the wrong name gets attached to the wrong person or I butcher the pronunciation. I do want to get it right. Your teacher, at times, needs correction too.
Awkward Situation #5
If someone passes gas in class, and I’m not talking about a silent fart, I’m talking about a fart I know we all heard. PLEASE, please do not laugh.
That is what I am thinking, no, praying, in the back of my mind as I continue to lead the class without so much as a bat of an eyelid. The worst thing in the world for me would be to have one of my students feel embarrassed for something that they probably could not control. Gas happens.
Awkward Situation #6
Nothing makes my heart pound harder or my cheeks blush more than students that have outbursts in class. This does not happen very often. This has only probably happened in my class twice that I can think of, but over the past 10 years of practicing I have witnessed some doozies.
Class is going along as normal and then suddenly someone swears loudly, or says something to the teacher or the student next to them in a menacing tone, or even worse, they stomp out of class. Once this happens the whole class becomes about damage control and trying to keep everyone on track and the entire energy of the room has changed.
If you are having a bad day please note that other people are in the class and came to get rid of their crazy and enjoy a good class. Don’t let your crazy rub up against everyone else.
I hope you have enjoyed my list of good-god-is-this-my-life moments. Sometimes it’s good to laugh at the things that made us uncomfortable in the past and finally let it go.
We all make mistakes and, yes, even your yoga teacher has a normal life that involves clothes and tequila, botched yoga poses and weird, sticky situations that can happen when they teach class. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it, though, it’s the best job - career - in the world.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online yoga instructor and yoga business coach and mentor for yoga teachers. She is the author of the book, "Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi," and has been writing and sharing her yoga experience for the past seven years. Find out more about Tori now.