50 (Silly and Soulful) Things Only Yoga Teachers Understand

50 (Silly and Soulful) Things Only Yoga Teachers Understand

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Let’s face it. You had no clue what you were getting yourself into when you desperately wanted to share the practice of yoga but before you’d started teaching.

Although you probably wouldn’t change anything about your teaching trajectory, there are some unexpected situations and lingering aftereffects that you encounter as a teacher that aren’t exactly something you encounter in everyday life. If you know, you know.

And if you’re a yoga teacher, chances are you know what it’s like to…

1. Contemplate starting a pop-up yoga class each time you’re stuck in line at the airport or Apple Genius Bar

2. Know you’re asking students to do things that are physically implausible, like “breathe into your hamstrings,” and say it anyway

3. Show up each week to work that demands public speaking, despite the fact that you’re an introvert, because “you were called to do it”

4. Wonder how long it’s been since the studio washed those blankets

5. Realize you just spent 2 hours and 37 minutes exploring poses on your mat to find the right transition students will move through in approximately 3 seconds.

6. Walk on tiptoes, as if you’re performing contemporary dance, each time students are in Savasana so you don’t create noise

Woman yoga teacher tiptoeing on a wood floor while students are in Savasana
The tiptoe walk is a very real, if sometimes contorted, thing when during Savasana. (Photo: fizkes | Getty )

7. Rehearse your cues inside your head as you’re waiting in traffic or at the store or stuck in a boring meeting at your other work that pays the bills

8. Take a disco nap so you can be 1000 percent awake when your schedule includes classes at 5:30 am, 9:30 am, a nooner, 4 pm, and 7:30 pm chased by another 5:30 am the next morning

9. Look around a room packed with people staring at you and realize no one understood what you just said

10. Study so hard to become a yoga teacher only to realize you also need to teach yourself how to be your own accountant, head of marketing, social media manager, and HR person

11. Struggle to turn off your teaching brain so you can lose yourself in your practice the way you used to and not get in your head trying to remember a brilliant cue

12. Understand the physics of cooling down an overheated studio in less than 10 minutes through an ad hoc equation of maniuplating fans, open doors, and thermostats

13. Know how not to make a weird face when you step in a puddle of sweat

14. Experience nightmares about being unable to stream your playlist because the WiFi is down (or, Millennials and Gen Xers and Boomers, because you forgot the dongle that connected you to the studio’s audio system)

15. Pause Netflix or interrupt conversations so you can jot down that brilliant transition that came to you out of seeming nowhere

16. Laugh by yourself when out with friends on Saturday night after you sidled into the dance circle and struck Natarajasana (Dancer Pose) because no one else understood how hilarious it is

17. Learn how to accept a compliment but also attribute the results largely to yoga and not just yourself

18. Experience the mind-bending alternate dimension of learning how to mirror students by moving your left side when you cue their right side

19. Worry about your long-term pelvic floor functionality due to contracting so many times during class when you really had to use the bathroom but held it

20. Learn not to let attendance go to your head, whether zero students show up to class or 43 students pack your class

21. Know that teaching yoga is about peace and love but it’s also about so much more than peace and love

22. Understand the look your friends and family throw your way when you’ve been talking about yoga too much

23. Feel that sinking disappointment when you overhear other yoga teachers gossiping in between classes

24. Want to reassure students who seem anxious to talk to you that you’re actually quite kind

25. Repress the urge to explain to everyone you encounter how life could be so much different if only they slowed their breath

26. Look at household items and see impromptu yoga props instead of water bottles, stacks of books, leashes, and couch cushions

27. Know that sometimes the smartest thing you can say is “I don’t know”

28. Understand the challenge of constantly observing students and trying to change your words and ways of teaching so that your class is actually for every body

29. Catch yourself preaching “it’s a practice, not a performance,” to everyone in any life situation—and realize that applies to you, too

30. Know that instantaneous change in the vibe of the entire class when you laugh after flubbing a cue

31. Struggle to not take on your students’ troubles

32. Scan any room you enter for a blank wall in case anyone should need to kick into Handstand or relax into Legs up the Wall.

Woman lying down with her legs in Legs Up the Wall
Sometimes just knowing you could drop into Legs Up the Wall at any given moment makes all the difference. (Photo: PNW | Pexels)

33. Keep a go bag of leggings, tank, flip flops, and deodorant stashed in your car because of that one studio manager who texts you sub requests 15 minutes before class is scheduled to start

34. Catch yourself talking like a yoga teacher during your 9-5 work and have to walk it back

35. Repeat after each class that you are not a trained medical professional and, as much as you would like to help, you cannot diagnose or make recommendations for their [fill in the blank with knee, low back, neck, shoulder, or other] pain

36. Remain uncertain as to what, exactly, to do when that one student practices Bird of Paradise and Handstand before class begins

37. Consider not asking so many questions after you inquire if a new student has any injuries and they stare back and deadpan “Only in my soul.”

38. Feel the cringe when you forget to turn off auto loop on your playlist and unintentionally jolt students out of Savasana

39. Start to see your own patterns and start to confront them rather than hide from them

40. Ignore being kicked in the head or other body part by an errant leg during a transition or while you’re supporting someone in  Handstand.

41. Know more about the intricacies of operating different thermostats than any human should need to know

42. Remind yourself, again and again and again, before teaching each class that it’s not about you

43. Know the struggle of needing to lose yourself in your practice the way you could before becoming a teacher but also wanting to pay enough attention so you can recall that brilliant cue or transition the teacher just used

44. Feel the recriminating thoughts intruding in your thoughts when a student leaves class early but shut it down by reminding yourself to take a slow breath and focus on the needs of your other students rather than what’s going down in your head

45. Dedicate a significant portion of your life learning how to explain mula bandha to students without being overly explicit yet still being articulate

46. Know you need to practice what you preach

47. Engage in sneaky ways to learn how the person working the studio’s front desk likes their coffee or tea so you can surprise them with a thank-you caffeine fix for always prewarming the studio before your class

48. Witness someone walk into class despondent or distracted and walk out with a completely different vibe

49. Understand that the most important thing your 200-hour yoga teacher training instilled in you is a knowing of how much you have yet to learn

50. Feel that subdued thrill each time the class falls into their final exhalation in Savasana even if it’s the 2307th class you’ve taught, as the room takes a collective sigh and everything feels more grounded and settled

RELATED: 40 (Mostly Hilarious) Things Only People Who Practice Yoga Understand

Additional contributors: Sarah White; Christina Muruato; Erin Deeley; Sarah Ezrin; Stephanie Acosta; Carrie BellYogi Bryan; Jenny CliseErin Deeley

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