As yogis, we know we shouldn’t be judgemental, jump to conclusions, or think badly of others. We’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances we’re in. But sometimes, we have to face facts and ask the tough questions: am I in a bad class? Is my yoga environment toxic? Every teacher has a different style of teaching, but no style should strike you as inappropriate, unprofessional, or dangerous.
Take a look at the list below to see if you might want to think about looking for another studio:
The teacher doesn’t offer any modifications
Some weeks, we can’t stretch as far as we’re used to. Other times we are recovering from an injury. No matter what the reason, and no matter the class, modifications should always be offered – especially in a beginner class where everyone is still finding their footing. If you are expected to perform the exact same moves in the exact same way as someone who has been practicing far longer than you have, you’re in the wrong room.
You signed up for a beginner’s class but all the poses are called out in Sanskrit and you feel like you’re going to die
Unless you are extremely out of shape, signed up for a Bikram class, or have an injury that you know you are working too hard, you should never feel like you’re on the brink of death in a starter class. Sure, you will be a bit sore, your muscles may shake, and until you develop balance you will fall over. But if you’re doing minute long planks and crazy arm balances, you might have to ask if you accidentally walked into Vinyasa II. And if the instructor expects you to know the difference between Virabhadrasana I and Utthita Trikonasana on the first day, think about trying a different class.
The teacher adjusts you too quickly
Safety, safety, safety. Your instructor should be fully knowledgeable as to what can cause an injury and how to properly adjust students. These adjustments should be made gradually to achieve proper alignment, not forced in order to make you move deeper into a pose that you may not be able to do yet. Everyone works at their own pace, and no teacher should push their students into something their body is not ready for.
The students are ignored
Yoga class is for the students, not the teacher. You are there to be instructed, and if the person who is supposed to be instructing you seems more concerned with getting their daily workout in than showing you how to do a pose, encouraging others, and offering small adjustments, then they aren’t really offering anything of value.
You are uncomfortable in any way
Yoga is supposed to be about finding a deeper connection with your body, not feeling ashamed, put on the spot, or like you aren’t good enough. Sometimes a teacher will instruct in a way that doesn’t mesh with you, sometimes the other students may seem a bit too competitive, and sometimes you can’t put your finger on it, but something feels off. If you experience any discomfort at all, aside from general nerves, leave. Yoga is a wonderful, beautiful practice that can introduce you to a whole new way of living and thinking. Don’t let that be tainted by a bad experience.