For me, coming into a yoga class can feel intimidating. Strangers, spandex, and fear of “doing it wrong” runs deep and wide for many people as we walk through studio doors. Walking along with you can be your past experiences, a teacher or family member (or stranger on the internet) who said something that left you feeling less than or excluded in this space. Most teachers are aware of this, and will acknowledge the bravery it takes to attend a class for the first time. As I’m moving into my 6th month teaching (still SO brand new!) I wanted to share a few tips I have if you feel all this as you commit to a class and walk through those doors. A few things to tell your teacher to help you have the best experience possible in their class.
5 Things to Tell/Ask Your Yoga Teacher
- Tell them you’re nervous! If you are feeling anxious or on edge about taking a class… share that and however much background you feel comfortable (and pertinent to this situation). If you’ve never done yoga, or you used to before a baby… 8 years ago. Share if you had a negative experience. Give them some information about your feelings coming into this. There is no need to be hugely verbose or share your deepest and darkest, but a simple “It’s been long long time and I’m worried I won’t know what I’m doing.” can go a LONG way to helping inform your teacher.
- Give them the injury rundown. If you have/had an intense injury that will likely effect your practice. . . Tell.Your.Teacher. This will help them to offer you safer modifications, know when you encourage you to hold and breath longer, and when to choose a more restorative pose. It’s also pretty common that there will be a few students with similar vulnerabilities (knees, low back, wrists especially) and it can help the teacher to tailor the class when several people are feeling it in the same ways.
- Ask what props will be helpful. Most teachers will tell you to grab props, but it they don’t initially tell you to . . .to it anyhow! Blocks can be so helpful in SO many poses, and will help you to find your breath and flow. Sitting on a blanket for any sort of seated sequence will benefit your hips if they’re at all tight (also, incredibly common!) and and can make all of the poses feel a lot more accruable and beneficial to your body. It’s worth it to prop, ask about props, and err on the side of “yes! I will want my arms to be four inches longer in that pose!”
- This one is nerve wracking for many. . . but trust me here! Ask for assistance! So often in my classes I won’t know that someone is struggling (we are all REALLY good at masking in public situations) until after class (if at all). However, whenever I have a student who gives me a wave or says “hey! I’m not getting this!” it’s SO good for both of us. Everyone in the class benefits from the assistance that person receives, and their practice is much smoother with the help of a teacher right there helping them out. Yes, in a perfect world your teacher will see this and hop over to help you, but it can be tough. So if you’d like some support, speak up!
- Finally, if a teacher asks “what would you like to work on” be bold, honest, and speak up. They’re asking this because they want the class to feel so good to you. If you don’t know muscle names/groups that is TOTALLY ok. Instead, speak up by saying “I drive a lot and would love poses that help with that.” (or stand, sit, bounce a baby, nurse, co-sleep, whatever it is for you!) This will help you, and your fellow students!
Your teacher wants to know you. Wants to make the class as beneficial and wonderful as possible for you. The more you can thoughtfully participate, communicate, and trust that they want the best for you, your heart and body, the better your experience will be.