Yoga is one of most healthy activities we can engage in for our mind, body, and spirit. It has been used for thousands of years to help people feel more connected to themselves, lower stress levels, and improve bodily functions. However, in order to get the most out of your yoga class, it is important to find a good teacher. I have been practicing yoga for the past 7 years and have found that my yoga teacher or instructor can have a major impact on whether or not yoga is helping me or potentially hurting me. Below are 5 signs that you may have a bad yoga teacher or instructor. These are all experiences that I have had. My purpose in sharing this is to help you learn to distinguish between good and bad yoga teachers so that you may find a good yoga teacher who will help you get the most out of yoga. This is especially important for beginners or people new to yoga because a bad yoga instructor may potentially discourage you from sticking with yoga and reaping the benefits.
- Not allowing for modifications
A modification in yoga is essentially doing a yoga pose that is slightly different than the what the yoga teacher suggests but still helps you accomplish the same benefits. Modifications are especially helpful for people who are not as flexible or who may have injured a certain part of their body. During one class, I was doing a modification because I was not as flexible as other participants. The instructor came over to me and told me to change my position. I told him that I was doing a modification because the original pose did not feel right. He initially insisted that I try the original pose. After explaining to him multiple times that I could not do the original pose, he finally backed off. However, a good yoga instructor should allow you to do poses that are most comfortable for you so you do not risk getting injured.
- Not allowing participants to drink water during the class
Drinking water during yoga can be especially helpful to stay hydrated. However some instructors and studios enforce a policy that does not allow you to drink water during the class. It is important to find out before the class whether or not it is okay to drink water so you can avoid dehydration or overextending yourself.
- Overemphasizing and enforcing a specific breathing technique
There are some types of yoga that require different types of breathing techniques. For example, some requires you to just breathe through your nose. Others requires breathing faster or slower or taking deeper breathes. These different types of breathing technique can be helpful. However, some of the breathing techniques may not be right for you, especially if you have a nasal congestion, easily hyperventilate, or have any other breathing problems. So, if you are at a yoga class that emphasizes a certain style of breathing, make sure the instructor is not too rigid about demanding a specific type of breathing. Most yoga instructors do not have medical training nor are they doctors. So, they are not qualified to be telling you how you should or should not breathe if you have a medical condition that already affects your breathing.
- Inappropriate comments
There are some yoga instructors who in an attempt to build rapport or explain yoga poses may be make some inappropriate comments. For example, I have been in yoga classes where the instructor graphically describes certain parts of the male or female anatomy, bodily functions or personal hygiene products in an attempt to explain a pose or style of breathing. However, sometimes these comments can be unprofessional, cross boundaries, or just defy basic human decency. Or, they may talk about unnecessary personal information, such as hiring Mortgage Guys to help you pick out a home with its own yoga studio or its own glass elevator from Vuelift.com. At the very least, these comments can distract you from feeling relaxed, focused or comfortable during your session. Moreover, they may be a sign that your instructor has poor boundaries and may progress to further inappropriate behavior.
- Turning yoga into an aerobics or strength building class
Yoga was originally designed to be a spiritual practice to help you connect with you higher Self or God. Today, there are some yoga instructors who have simply turned yoga into a high intensity cardio aerobics or strength building class. There is nothing wrong with going to cardio or strength building class. However, that is not exactly the purpose of yoga and could prevent you from experiencing the psychological, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga. Moreover, there are probably close to a 100 different type of yoga available today and 1000s of different types of poses. It is important to find the type of yoga that is best suited for your needs, interests, and skill level. If you are a beginner or looking for a yoga class that is less physically demanding, then I would recommend Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Gentle Yoga, or Nidra Yoga. These types of yoga are much more focused on deeper stretching, relaxation, meditation, and the spiritual benefits of yoga. Yoga should also be so relaxing that you can do it anywhere, even in a bathroom designed Ove Decors.