When Yoga Teachers Turn to Lifestyle Preachers


Yoga teachers often feel the need to inspire others to live consciously. Depending on their intentions and methods, they may or may not be successful. As students, we come to class to feel refreshed, renewed and challenged. Again, depending on our mental state du jour, we may or may not feel much shift.

A teacher of mine once said that once the student is advanced enough he or she is able to find that every class is the perfect class. No matter how preachy the teacher, how off-putting the music, or how sweaty the neighbor, an advanced student adeptly extracts the lesson from each situation.

But what about those of us just getting in to yoga? There are clearly some teachers who take advantage of their position of power (a roomful of open ears for 90 minutes) to climb onto a soap box and impose their views. Is this ok? As a student, do you find your zen or protest the violation of your space?

As Neal Pollack (author of the new book Stretch: The Unlikely Making of Yoga Dude) writes for salon.com, it's not so much about whether or not you're irritated, but about how you handle the irritation:

"The teacher had preached, didactically and unpleasantly. But what I'd
done in response, I finally realized, had been totally wrong and
disrespectful. It took months for me to understand that I'd gone blindly into one of the founding studios of
modern yoga, thrown a fit worthy of a toddler so far gone that no shiny
object could distract him from his rage, and left with nothing in

Before the yoga, I'd behaved that way fairly often. It was about as
far from my best self as I could get. In fact, I'd even go so far as to
call it my bad self. But even serious yogis, I was learning,
are often tempted to get down with their bad selves. This was the true yoga practice, the real discipline and dedication, and
getting there, I began to understand, would take a lot more practice."

Have you ever had a class or a teacher that really irritates you? How do you notice it and make it your practice?

Erin Chalfant is a
writer, yoga teacher and the Web Editor at Yoga Journal.