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Answers From A Yoga Teacher

Last week fellow Charlotte blogger Brittany from A Healthy Slice of Life wrote a post titled, “Questions for my Yoga Teacher.” When I read it I immediately knew I wanted to write a response post, “Answers from a Yoga Teacher.” Brittany posed a bunch of random questions/thoughts that she had for her yoga teacher. I always love hearing about the things that run through student’s heads and the questions that come up. 99% of the time they are over thinking it!

I always tell my classes that yoga is about what feels good. Physically and emotionally. What works for one doesn’t work for all. It’s about self-discovery. Checking in. Not ignoring what’s going on in your life but owning it. It’s about taking responsibility and understanding that you have control over  your body, your breath, your thoughts, your actions, what you give to to others, what you take from others.

I make it sound serious but you totally don’t have to go into it so seriously. It just happens. I was oblivious to how yoga would impact my life and self-awareness when I started practicing. I just wanted to stop hurting when I ran. And look at me now.

So, let’s have some fun with it. Here are Brittany’s questions and my responses.

Do you get nervous to start of the first “Om” at the beginning of class? I know I wait until I hear at least 2-3 oms get going before I join in.

One of the things that I was most nervous about when I started teaching was chanting “om.” Now I could really care less. I love to om. And om loudly. I rarely begin my classes with an om (sometimes) but always end them that way.

When you voluntarily come put a block (or two… and sometimes a strap) beside me, are you subtly telling me I don’t belong in this level class? Because clearly I’m not listening when I show up again the following week.

NO! I honestly wish more people would use props. Using a block or a strap is not a sign of your skill level but rather your ability to listen to your body and help yourself fully express a pose. It’s just like when I assist…I’m not always assisting because you’re doing it wrong but because it also helps you get deeper in a pose. I often use blocks in poses like revolved triangle and revolved half moon when I’m feeling tight. And I love using straps for poses like dancer and supine big toe hold.

Is learning how to deal with body odor and people drenched in sweat part of your training? Like, do they make you go to a professional football locker room after summer two-a-days and touch people? I love to be touched (minds out of the gutter, people), but cringe for you when you have to correct my sweat-drenched posture.

When I was considering going through yoga teacher training I wondered if teaching yoga would even be fun. I thought, “If I don’t get to practice with the class and I have to spend the whole time touching sweaty people am I really going to enjoy it?” I was used to teaching BodyPump and group strength classes where I do the workout with the class.

I was totally wrong. I LOVE teaching and not practicing with my class and I LOVE touching sweaty people. Because I do not practice with them, I can really connect with my students and see their experience. As far as sweat goes…the sweatier, the better! 😉 I’m totally immune to it and I love to assist and be assisted when I’m practicing. Do not be self-conscious! We love doing it.

Do you insist we try to jump into crow strictly to get a tickle out of watching me flop and roll all over the place?

Nope. If you don’t step outside of your comfort zone you don’t grow. It might not happen on day one or day 100 but eventually, it will happen.

Do you really sanitize the blocks after class when you have us drop them in a basket? Or are you really just stacking them back up after we all leave?

I can only speak for myself but yes! I mop the floor, spray the blocks with alcohol and clean the mirrors! That said, if I’m practicing and getting up close and personal with my block (like placing it under my face), I put a towel over it!

When we show up in umbros and a t-shirt, do you secretly want to hand us pamphlets about Lululemon?

Of course not! Again, yoga is about what feels good to you. If you feel good decked out in Lulu go for it, if shorts and a tee are more your style then wear that. I will say that non-cotton, fitted clothes are a little more comfy for hot classes.

Finally, are you loaded? Is teaching yoga really a fast track to becoming a millionaire? If not, what are you doing with the $16 a pop people pay for a class. 

I will speak to this at the studio level. No, we are not loaded. It is extremely difficult to make a career out of just teaching yoga. Yes, practicing at a studio can be expensive but think about the experience, the facilities and the overhead. I love teaching yoga. I have taught at the Y, in gyms and in studios and the studio experience is just different. Studios do typically pay a little more than gyms but the expectation for the level of instruction is higher. Most studios offer programs like $5 community classes, donation-based classes and volunteer exchanges so check those options out if the rack rate is a little out of your budget.

What questions do you have for your yoga teacher? 

{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Holly June 18, 2012, 9:34 pm

    Fun post. I always wondered about the sweatiness too. I figured it must be like doctors and and beauticians — either you like to touch people or you don’t enter that profession.

  • Anna S June 18, 2012, 9:39 pm

    I’m so glad you answered her questions. Great post as always Jen!

    My town does not have a yoga studio. I can’t wait to move somewhere that does!

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) June 18, 2012, 9:58 pm

    I love that you answered these! 🙂

  • sana June 18, 2012, 10:13 pm

    Is it rude if I leave early? I can sneak out in cardio classes, not yoga!

  • Miriam@Bellaspire June 18, 2012, 10:16 pm

    The first couple of questions made me miss traditional yoga. I only practice Bikram and we don’t om or use props. We do sweat though!!

    I have practiced since college and never realized I wasn’t supposed to look at the floor. It’s so hard to look in the mirror at myself (or my locked knee). So my question is- How do you break a really bad habit? It’s so easy to go deeper in the poses with the wrong gaze than to take steps backwards in exchange for better technique. My pride and habits are over powering my humility!

  • Laury@TheFitnessDish June 18, 2012, 11:28 pm

    This was such a great post! I am thinking about doing my teacher training and I sweat the same questions went on in my head about whether it would be “fun” for me. I love practicing, and worry as a new mom adding more teaching (I’m a PT and teach bootcamps) I’d get less “me” workout time. Good to know you love it!

    • Jen June 19, 2012, 6:29 pm

      i totally get where you are coming from and i had the same reservations but teaching yoga (for me) is just so different. i cannot even imagine practicing with my students. i love to walk around and help them with the poses.

  • Erica { EricaDHouse.com } June 19, 2012, 6:30 am

    It is amazing to hear how instructors think! I’ve only taken a yoga class once because I was so intimidated and had no idea what was going on … if all teachers are as compassionate and passionate as you are I have nothing to worry about!

    • Jen June 19, 2012, 6:03 pm

      it is difficult in the beginning when you don’t know the names of the poses and are trying to figure out the whole linking breath and movement thing too. i always tell newbies to know that everyone in the room attended their first class at some point!

  • Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers June 19, 2012, 7:58 am

    Haha – I love those questions. 🙂 I’m one of “those girls” who might be inclined to show up in ratty t-shirts and soccer shorts from time to time. It happens.

  • Christina June 19, 2012, 8:27 am

    I’ve always wondered if my yoga instructor is horrified if I’ve forgotten to shave under my arms or shave my legs (particularly when she’s adjusting me and required to be up close and personal with my unshaved legs!) 🙂

    • Jen June 19, 2012, 6:02 pm

      we’ve seen it all! some shave, some don’t – it’s all good!

  • Amy June 19, 2012, 8:44 am

    I love this post! Thanks for answering these questions.

  • Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes June 19, 2012, 9:20 am

    What a great idea for a post, Jen! I’m one of those yogis who sweats profusely (I can exercise for five minutes or five hours, and I’ll sweat the same amount! Ha!), so this definitely puts my mind at ease.

    • Jen June 19, 2012, 6:01 pm

      ha – i’m the same way! 🙂

  • Erin June 19, 2012, 10:04 am

    You always make yoga sound like the best thing in the world 😀 I got the opportunity to go to a hot yoga class when I was visiting my brother in Portland, OR. It was incredible… and really hard the first time! Haha. I was shocked at how much I sweated. It was a great experience. I really wish we had more places where I live, because your yoga posts are so inspiring!

    • Jen June 19, 2012, 6:01 pm

      i’m so glad you got to try a hot class! yes, they are surprisingly difficult. hopefully you can do it again when you visit him!

  • Bethany June 19, 2012, 11:20 am

    Question: Yoga teacher training is a lot of hard work, and expensive. Do you believe it to be worth it, and have you made a profit (considering how much training/certification costs)? I am seriously considering teacher training for yoga and pilates 🙂

  • Amanda June 19, 2012, 1:49 pm

    I love yoga, but I’m about 30 miles from a decent studio, so I try and drop in there as often as I can. What do you suggest for an easy home practice?

    Also, since I am so far from a studio, I was thinking about teacher training myself, but I’m not sure where to start. Any guidance?


    • Jen June 19, 2012, 5:58 pm

      for home practice you can start getting into ashtanga if you want something that you can lead yourself through. it’s a series of poses that you repeat every time you practice. you can get a video of primary series and commit to memory and then practice on your own. or try something like yoga download if you want to mix it up.

      as far as teacher trainings, just research what’s feasible for you in terms of distance/price. some teacher trainings only meet like once a month so maybe you could swing something like that? check out yoga alliance – they might have a list of registered schools in your area.

  • ~Jessica~ June 19, 2012, 3:45 pm

    These are some great answers – I’ve always wondered what yoga teachers are thinking when they step in and assist or insist that I use a belt/block. I always feel really embarrassed and ashamed, but that’s because I turn absolutely everything into a competition, including yoga.

    Do you ever get annoyed when a student just will not do a modified/’beginner’ version of a pose and always goes for the advanced, even when they mess it up recurrently? I only ask because I like to ‘attack’ workouts, even when it’s yoga, and I’m not particularly good at it. I’m sure I’m a frustrating student but if I don’t keep on trying the harder options, how am I ever going to be able to do them?

    On that subject, any tips for crow pose would be greatly appreciated because I can’t hold it for more than 2 seconds!


    • Jen June 19, 2012, 5:56 pm

      hi jessica – i wouldn’t say that i get annoyed when a student repeatedly tries to do a pose that is unavailable to them. as long as they’re going for it out of a good place in their heart/mind then i’m all for it. one day it will happen. i just don’t want students to feel like they HAVE to take the advanced variations of poses. in general though, i’d rather someone go for it and be okay with falling/not doing it perfectly than to always play it safe and think they can’t do it.

      for crow…think knees way up on the triceps and lots of lift through the belly. you can practice by putting a block under the toes and starting to lift off of it and practice holding longer and longer.

  • Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement June 19, 2012, 3:51 pm

    One of my good friends is a yoga teacher and my favorite thing she said was that she hated yoga when she first tried it and she still has practices that are less than perfect. It made it more relatable…sometimes my practice is amazing and sometimes it’s a struggle, but it’s part of the process.

    • Jen June 19, 2012, 5:53 pm

      i didn’t enjoy it until i found a style that resonated with me. and then i was terrible at it but it kept me coming back because i wanted to improve. i still have rough days with my body/practice but you’re right…it is all part of the process!

  • Suzanne June 19, 2012, 9:57 pm

    Love this post. I really love all your posts but this was great. I love yoga and running and started yoga when I had an injury. Now I wish I could do both everyday. I so admire you for following your dreams. Thanks for answering all those questions and making it fun.

  • Bethany June 20, 2012, 1:57 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that i’ve been following your blog for about 2 months now and you are one of the big reasons I decided to start Yoga, just had my 3rd class and I love it! Thanks for sharing your passion! I also am taking an intro freebie class of Crossfit on Saturday, very excited to try that out also!

  • brandee June 20, 2012, 8:46 pm

    It was great reading your answers! I finished my teacher training in October in Bali and mostly decided I would do it to immerse myself in yoga for 30 days. After completing the class, I actually had the desire to teach but still get a little nervous to get out there. Reading your blog makes more confident I can do it!

  • Sarah M June 22, 2012, 4:16 pm

    Hi Jen, I really enjoyed reading this post! A question I have had about yoga training is that most of the classes I’ve attended seem to be more about the workout than the meditative side of yoga. In training, do you learn the theory behind the different types? I’m surprised that that part of yoga isn’t talked about more.

    Also, it’s nice to find another Charlotte blogger – I’ll have to add Brittany’s blog to my list. I am also from Charlotte and it’s fun to see what local folks write about!

    Thanks, Sarah

  • jony June 25, 2012, 4:05 am

    great article!

  • Allie November 27, 2012, 5:09 pm

    Over the past few years my hips have become stiff and lock easily – I am only 18, mind you. Seeing as it isn’t a weird medical issue, do you think yoga may help this? I often have a hard time doing things like lunges, if that pinpoints anything for you. Any help would be greatly appreciated 🙂

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