Yoga Class with A New Instructor

Francesca Silva

AMGT_new-instructor_02.03.09.jpgRecently, I signed up at the nearby recreation centre for my second session of yoga classes. When I showed up for the first class of this new session, I was surprised to find that my original instructor wasn’t teaching the class. She was away and was being replaced by a new instructor. I was disappointed as I’d really liked Jovina, who had been encouraging and patient. Once I got over my initial disappointment, however, I was excited to see what our new instructor would bring to our sessions.

It was comforting to see many familiar faces in the class. We started with our usual warm-up and then continued with some more challenging poses. And that’s where my problems began – the new instructor was adamant that everyone in the class had to do every pose because how else were we supposed to accomplish anything if we weren’t prepared to push ourselves beyond our comfort levels? So we all valiantly tried our best to do the poses she showed us, but unfortunately, our best still wasn’t good enough for her. I think the final straw came when she berated an overweight woman, telling her she’d never lose her “fat” if she didn’t make an effort – more than a few jaws dropped when she said that! It didn’t help that she didn’t walk around to correct the poses but remained in front of the class, barking out criticism, sighing impatiently, and shaking her head.

At the end of the class, everyone looked even more frustrated and stressed out than when we’d arrived, and most left quite quickly. Some of us, however, decided to stay behind and have a chat with the instructor to let her know, without being rude, how we felt about her session.

Not wanting to put my foot in it by comparing her to Jovina, I told her that it was difficult for me, as a beginner, to accomplish some of the yoga poses and I didn’t want to push myself and cause an injury to my body. Her response was that I would remain a beginner if I didn’t at least attempt to do all the poses. Someone else mentioned that it would be helpful if she could be more encouraging and less disparaging, to which she replied that her challenging us to push ourselves was encouragement. She just didn’t get it so we gave up and left. Many of us felt so frustrated that we were debating whether or not to return for the next class.

Now I’m feeling so discouraged that I wonder whether I should continue with the class or bow out until Jovina gets back. I don’t like to quit anything, though, so I think I will give it another try with this new instructor. Perhaps she just needs a bit of time to process our comments and she’ll take them into consideration at our next class.

We’ll see….[tags]challenging, new yoga instructor, yoga class, beginner’s class, discouraging, conflict[/tags]

2 Responses to “Yoga Class with A New Instructor”

  1. Tadasimha says:

    This sounds like someone who spends more time in front of an aerobics class, berating people about “no pain, no gain”! There seems to be a great deal of arrogance and ego involved here also. Either way, it certainly isn’t the yogic way of doing things!

    In _Light On Yoga_, Iyengar writes: ” A Guru is free from egotism. He devotedly leads his sisya (student) towards the ultimate goal without any attraction for fame or gain.”. The goal in teaching yoga is in teaching yoga. You can’t force someone into an asana without hurting them. You can’t berate people without making them feel worthless. It’s one thing to encourage, it’s another to push! My favorite quote from a teacher at the school I attend is “don’t hurt yourself, but don’t quit either”.

    I would recommend that you speak to the manager of the rec center about how this person teaches and encourage your classmates to do so as well. You should also try to speak to the first instructor and let her know about what happened in class.

    Good luck!

  2. Francesca Silva says:

    Hi Tadasimha,

    Thanks so much for your encouraging post. I’m going to take your favorite quote to heart.

    I agree with you that there’s some ego involved in her way of teaching. You hit the nail on the head when you said it sounds more like someone who spends time in front of an aerobics class because most of us felt that we’d been to aerobics and not yoga.

    I’m going to my second session this evening and will see if things have improved. If not, I will speak to the manager of the rec centre and ask my classmates to do the same.

    Thanks again.

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