Why Yoga Teachers Need To Shut The Fuck Up
“Inhale and draw your low belly in. Exhale and step back into plank. Bring your shoulders over your wrists. Pull up through your abdomen. Lengthen out through your heels. Allow the crown of your head to draw forward. Slowly lower down into a chaturanga and snake yourself through into upward facing dog. Make sure your shoulders are drawing down and away from your ears, as if you are trying to make space between your low-hanging, 1980’s florescent hoop earrings and a pair ridiculously large shoulder pads, from the same era. The tops of your thighs should be hovering above the mat. Press down through all ten toes, allowing the pinkies to flare out and deeply root into the mat. Let those roots deepen, until you find yourself becoming one with the earth. Use the force of rooting down to send your energy up. Draw your head back, as if you are pushing it into a wall behind you. Don’t push too hard, you don’t want to give yourself a concussion. As you exhale, pull back into downward facing dog.
Now in downward dog, make sure your tailbone is drawing up towards the sky, as if you are just waiting for someone to walk up behind you and slap it while proclaiming, “You’re my bitch.” Let your heels root down. Don’t worry if your heels don’t actually touch the floor, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. This is yoga; it’s not a contest. Unless of course there is an award for the most words used in a single 90 minute time frame.
Make sure your palms are extending out in all five directions of your fingers. Let them flow like small rivers into the floor. Imagine water ending the So-Cal drought. Gaze up towards your navel as you feel the crown of your head blossom into the most beautiful lotus flower. And…Now listen closely, because I’m going to give you 450 more very specific instructions. I am never going to stop talking. I am going to keep giving you things to listen to because although I am the teacher of this yoga class, I am incredibly uncomfortable actually being in silence and letting us all possibly find a moment of enlightenment.”
Please tell me I am not the only one. You’re grooving along in yoga class trying to really master one or two of the cues from the teacher, when a barrage of other instructions come flying out of their mouth. Each time you settle into one thing, there is another thing to consider. Another instruction to follow. And ironically enough, they keep telling you to be in the moment while simultaneously rushing you into the next. Why can’t I just breathe deeply and be in the pose like you are telling me to, teacher?
This is exhausting. Plus, there are usually no mirrors in yoga studios. So we can’t really check out the 900 alignment cues. In truth, all the yapping is for nothing. 95% of the class is still doing all the poses incorrectly. And no one can really empty their mind because all we hear are anatomical cues on how to do our yoga better than we already are. But still accept ourselves and be in the moment.
It is at this point I usually find myself in child's pose, while the rest of the class fights their way through the warrior poses and their cue filled moments. I realize the more Type A personalities out there may really get off on this kind of excessive instruction, but I think for the most of us, we would benefit from a little less instruction and a little more consideration into getting just a few things right. And then having some silence to really go inside and detach ourselves from the daily grind.
Sometimes, yoga class is the noisiest part of my whole day. From Florence and the Machine blaring through the loud speakers during all those optional vinyasas to the loud gong banging during savasana. Do you know what savasana translates to in English? Corpse pose. Apparently it’s not light we see after we die, but Kanye West singing “Stronger,” as we realize we should have loved ourselves the way Kanye loved Kanye.
So this is my appeal to yoga teachers near and far. STFU! You don’t need to give instructions non-stop. It’s OK if things get quiet. We are not having a first date or job interview where silences have to be awkward. In fact, it is in that silence that we can really hear. If you never give us a chance to actually quiet our minds, then how does “yoga” differ from “fitness.”
Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga never said anything about this kind of non-stop instruction. In a nutshell, the practice of yoga is done so a yogi can then sit in meditation longer and with more ease, withdraw from the world of senses and hopefully blow out into some kind of nirvana. And even though most of us may be doing yoga simply because it’s keeps us tone and our waist line can afford that ginger margarita at happy hour, we still would like a little time to be quiet, go inside and not have to listen to you anymore!