I love yoga and I love being a yoga teacher. But that doesn’t mean that we have to love every yoga class or teacher. Last week I went to a yoga class and it was the worst class I have ever taken. There was nothing wrong with the teacher and many of the attendees enjoyed the class. But it just wasn’t my type of yoga session. There was no music. The teacher spoke way too much, as she even said, “It’s going to be a quiet savasana” and then went on to speak the entire time we were in savasana. And she offered the advice that certain poses are better for weight loss a few too many times.
I felt so frustrated that I thought about leaving in the middle of the yoga class on several occasions. But leaving felt too difficult, especially since I was in the front row. So, instead about half way through the class I knew I needed to figure out how to enjoy the rest of the class.
If you have ever felt like you showed up to the wrong yoga class, here are five ways to find enjoyment from your time on the mat in the wrong yoga class.
Leave the class.
Don’t be afraid to leave the class. I have other actions below that offer you ways of staying in the class but if you have tried all of them or if you are past the point of no return, then leave. When it comes down to it, this is your time, your money and, most importantly, your body. So if you feel like you aren’t benefiting, why stay?
As I was putting on my shoes, I saw that there were comment cards. And thought using a comment card would be a completely appropriate way to explain to the teacher why I had left the class. As a yoga instructor, if a student leaves my class early, I would love to hear their feedback and to understand what I could do better. Or to help direct them to another type of class or teacher who would be able to serve them better.
Do your own poses.
The poses that the instructor gives are provided as a way to help you through your practice. But if they aren’t helping you, don’t do them. A lot of instructors find this annoying. But my philosophy is as instructors we don’t know what’s going on in your brain or body so we can’t possible know what is best for you in that moment.
One tip I have when you make this decision is to make eye contact with the yoga instructor to let them know you’re listening to your body. And hopefully doing your own poses for a flow or two will help remind you why you came to the class in the first place.
Lay or sit on your mat.
Just being still for a few minutes can help reset your thoughts. Or can help you focus on something else for a few minutes so you can return to the poses. As I made this decision in the class that I went to last week, I decided to take some time in child’s pose. And while I was there, I knew it was my own judgy mind that was stopping me from enjoying the class. And I also figured out that I was processing some stuck emotions that I couldn’t get past.
My lack of enjoyment in the class had more to do with my own emotions than it had to do with the instructor’s ability to stop talking. But it often feels easier to focus on an external source of misery than internal sources.
Taking time to be still in a pose may not get rid of the inside emotions but bringing awareness to it can help. If I had chosen to leave the yoga class, I may not have recognized the internal emotions going on.
Make mental distractions.
This one may seem opposite of what yoga instructors always say… be present and let go of everything else that is bringing you tension and stress. And majority of the time I agree. Yoga time can be really great to teaching you mindfulness and helping you be present on your mat.
But if you find yourself in a class that you are contemplating leaving, then making mental distractions might be enough to keep you on your mat. Mental distractions can include thinking about your favorite vacation spot, being your favorite person, or lyrics of your favorite song.
Mental distractions are not always a bad thing. And often times we can use them in life, as we may find ourselves in a situation that we can’t leave, don’t enjoy, but don’t need to be completely present in. So training your brain to use positive imagery and happy mental distractions can also help in those real-life moments.
Use it as a learning experience.
There are so many ways to practice yoga and even more yoga instructors. So figuring out what you like and what you don’t like is part of the yoga journey. Everyone resonates to the teachings of yoga differently and a wise teacher understands that a student needs to explore what aligns best with them. Different teacher perspectives and yoga styles can also help keep your practice new and may challenge your body in a different way. You may not love the class, but you may discover a new way of moving your body through a pose. Just like a bad date, don’t swear off yoga after one bad class or instructor. But use it to create your list of what you like and what you don’t like in a yoga class and instructor.
I learned the hard way that “You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.” – Buddha.
What’s your take on leaving in the middle of a yoga class?
Do you have any yoga class horror stories? What advice would you give? Have you ever left in the middle of a yoga class?