I published a version of this post on my now-defunct personal blog. It's tongue-in-cheek, but also, a little serious.
I teach the way I do today - and train other teachers the way I do - because I learned from a series of bad teachers how NOT to teach, and, fortunately, from a series of good teachers how TO teach.
When you first start doing yoga, half the time you are having trouble with left and right, so how can you be expected to evaluate your teacher?
There are, sadly, lots of dodgy yoga teachers out there. It's not deliberate (I hope). I think most people go into teaching yoga because they love it & it helps them. But poor training and lack of experience, sometimes combined with a young flexible body, can lead to terribly dangerous teaching practice.
While you are figuring out whether your teacher is good for you, be sovereign over yourself.
Keep yourself safe. It's YOUR body.
If you catch yourself doing any of the things on this list, it's a big red warning signal to stop!
Here are the things to avoid:
- Assume your teacher knows more about your body than you do. I mean, hopefully this is true. Hopefully they've got some good anatomy knowledge under their belt. But your teacher has limitations too, and if you have an injury or issue, you might actually know more about that particular issue. Speak up, ask questions, advocate for yourself. Even if you are a beginner!
- You feel uncomfortable or 'wrong' in a yoga class, even if you can't put your finger on why, and go back anyway. That's like going on a second date with someone who insulted you. You might want to just look for another teacher, yes? There are so many choices!
- When practicing in a heated room, or any class for that matter go further, further further into stretches because you can't feel a stretch. Just want you to know: a sensation of stretch is not always desirable, especially in people who are hypermobile in some joints. Plus, most of us have limited proprioception - the felt sense of our bodies - so we can't necessarily feel everything that's going on accurately anyway.
- Believe that you can never be too flexible. Trust me, you can. If you aren't stable (strong) enough to support your bendiness, you are very very likely to cause yourself injuries. and half the time it's not flexibility you are seeing in those super-bendy people, but hyper-mobility - i.e. unstable joints.
- Yank yourself into stretches and twists using your arms. Just, no.
- Ignore twingy feelings in or around your joints. Just because there are less nerves in those areas doesn't mean you should ignore them.
- Compete with the ex-gymnast next to you. No, really, please don't. You are at yoga to feel better, right? Not to feel bad because you can't do something/don't look right/have hurt yourself doing things you maybe shouldn't right now.
- Crank into your lower back in backbends. You will know you are doing this from that compressed feeling down there. Not functional.
- Never rest.
- Never ask questions when you don't understand an instruction.
- Presume that, should you injure yourself doing yoga, you won't treat it like you would any other sports injury. Do more yoga to fix it. Don't educate yourself on what might have gone wrong.
I could go on about this for an entire book, but hopefully you get the gist...