Your Yoga Teacher May Be Bulling You...
As a practitioner of yoga, I’ve taken plenty of classes from teachers who may be unaware that they are bullying their students. I bring this up because I just recently had an experience in a class where I was shown the ways that some teachers impose their teachings... which may be counter-intuitive to the student's personal experience. There are more examples, these are the big ones.
Teachers, you may be bullying your students if...
You’re telling your students to “close your eyes.” Please, stop telling me to close my eyes, when maybe my drishti (point of concentration) is better served for me outward instead inwards. Instead offer it as an option, only if students are comfortable with it.
You have taken a hot yoga class, and you’re thirsty, your teacher tells you to drink minimally or avoid completely. Errmm, if I’m thirsty I’m pretty sure I'll drink my water, and if it's not recommended to drink during the class then tell me why not. Am I right, or am I right?
You are entering students spaces to forcefully adjust. Please, stop entering my space, adjusting me in my pose when maybe today I’m more interested taking things easy then pushing myself to my edge. Instead ask me, “May I give you an adjustment?” or voice at the beginning of classes those who are uncomfortable with it or working with a sensitive injury to let you know first.
Teachers, sometimes it's not just you. The yoga bully comes in many forms.
Students, you may be a yoga bully if...
You arrive to class, flop out your mat while pushing and shoving your way inside the room to capture your favourite spot, devoutly defending your territory.
You leave mid-way stampeding to make a point you weren’t getting want you ‘wanted’. From a teachers perspective, you not getting what you wanted has more to do with you than the teacher. The teacher is simply offering you an experience, it’s your choice whether you take it, leave it, or learn from it. Unless it's a private session, your teacher should be catering to your wants/needs.
You leave class early. I get it, time is short and precious. Your schedule is tight and your day is packed with need-to's and to-do's, but most students anticipate the end of their class for savasana, and by packing up and shuffling out during the most meditative and restful stage of the entire class, you’re disrupting everyone else and denying yourself of the benefits. If you can’t stay for savasana, my recommendation is to leave before.
Take these perspectives with a grain of salt, and see your classes as a learning experience. You’re learning what you want and what you don’t want. If you sit through a class, and your thoughts are, “That teacher moves too fast!" then you know you're looking for a slower paced class. Vice-versa.
Be kind, be considerate and be open to receive your next yoga class as an opportunity to learn and grow.
See you on your mat, soon.