Am I the Right Teacher For You?
Not all yoga teachers are created equally. For as many Starbucks that can be found in any neighborhood, there are 25 yoga teachers in each of them; they either work there part time to supplement their income, or they’re getting some embarrassing hippie ass complicated drink. Get the coffee! Just get the fucking coffee!
I’m saying that the field of yoga teachers is a highly, highly saturated market. Everyone has done a damn training at this point. But, I want to talk about the overwhelming and daunting task for YOU, as students/clients/practitioners to find the right teacher for you. Your LOBSTER teacher if you will. And, this shouldn’t just happen once; practices changes. You hopefully won’t have the same practice that you have now in, say, 5 years. Your practice should always evolve.
I need you guys to listen up here and share this message with all of your yoga going friends:
Understand that not every teacher is going to be a good fit for you. There are so many varieties of us. But, I do think we are starting to see a better, (not enough, but better) diversity of teachers out there. There is someone for every student. There is a unicorn of a teacher for most. But, YOU must ask yourself some questions and have input in what and who resonates with you. A few things to consider when trying on your new yoga teacher(or existing!).
What is it that YOU are looking for in yoga? Great workout? Calm and serene practice? Healing an injury? Answers to questions that your body is asking?
What style is right for you? Forrest, Vinyasa, Hot, Yin, Restorative, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Goat? You as a student should find the style or lineage that works and resonates with you and your body.
Does your teacher need to be relateable to you? Size, age, gender, etc
What are looking for in a teacher? Do you want to be motivated & challenged? Do you come to class to just bliss out and float in a zen pond of breathing? Do you enjoy the traditional teachings of the 8 limbs, inspired by Sanskrit and the mythology. Do you want absolutely none of that?
Are you a wild child, or more modest?
I think you get the point here. What I’m asking you to ponder is: are you working with a teacher that is right for YOU? Because I pretty much guarantee there are a couple of teachers out there that are your yoga dream come true.
A common pitfall in my big ass pool of peers is that idea that you(the teacher), are a good fit for everyone. Any student could come to your class and enjoy you. I fell in there for a hot second, but I can usually be very fucking ok that I am not for everyone.
THANK GOD! I don’t want to be just like every other teacher. I need to make a point here: I am not the Holly you know because I tried really hard to be quirky and different. There a lot of teachers like me out there, but, some teachers have adjusted to fit the mold of what a yoga teacher is/should be/expected.
I don’t want to ever change to fit the mold to the ‘yoga teacher’ whatever the fuck that is!
I’m pretty clear right now as to what I offer as a teacher. It’s exactly what some are looking for. Others can’t stand me. And that’s totally cool! For everyone to like me, I would have to dilute myself down to a thin veil of who I am and what I offer. But I‘m not willing to do that anymore.
So, here’s what I offer you as a teacher, to you, as a student:
I’m gonna kick your ass. Let’s be real. I’m not the physically easiest teacher. I’m kinda intense. The work is going to be deep and intense. I’m going to guide your toward building strength in your body. Even when I pull it way back, it’s still pretty fiery. And, I will always do Abs. Always. Don’t bitch about it or ask me if we can skip them.
If your looking for a more gentle, flowy sequence, I am not the right teacher. There are AMAZING teachers I would love to recommend to you. There are teachers I know who are masters of sequencing a class that gently flows without working up a sweat.
One is not better than the other. They are just DIFFERENT. Different is good.
I offer a practice that is more alternative/pop culture. That’s me! My music is going to be everything from N.W.A. to The Lumineers. Cardi B to Amy Winehouse. And, it’s going to be explicit.
I don’t speak Sanskrit, a few exceptions on a few postures, but in general, no.
I might offer an intention based on a movie I saw. Or one of my favorites that I learned straight from my teacher: Learn to make shit into fertilizer. Putting whipped cream on shit doesn’t make it less shit.
I don’t spend a lot of time in the Sutras and the stories. I enjoy them, but they are not a regular part of my teaching.
I’m fun as hell. I’m funny as shit too. I might talk like Cartman from South Park in class. I might have us booty dancing. I have taught twerking in class.
I hold boundaries, accountability, and safe space for everyone.
My classes start on time.
No food in my class.
No phones. If you spend too much time on your watch, I’m going to ask you to take it off. Be in your body.
I pride myself on offering very intelligent, thoughtful, safe sequences. If you start doing your own thing, I don’t know if you are practicing safely. I love modifications, and I love to help you. Ask me. I love to find different ways of offering postures to suit more bodies/injuries. And my pregnant ladies: come see me!
If you want to do your own thing, maybe consider a home practice. Also, it is very disruptive and confusing to the other students in class.
I’m not your Guru. I have no aspirations to be seen in that light. I am going through most of the same struggles right along with you. I don’t have all the answers. I will never be the wise, all knowing teacher to flock to.
I’m not going to tell you how to change disruptive behaviors. Or how to overcome your anxiety. I don’t know why you still suffer from separation anxiety. I’m not going to police you or give you a list of things that will solve your problems. That’s up to you. That’s YOUR journey. I’m here to offer things to ponder; to move your body safely and into postures that may offer you up some opportunities to go deeper. I will hold you and be there when you need to use my shirt to wipe your nose. I’m so your girl on that. But, I can’t tell you how to “fix” yourself.
I love teaching the inversions and arm balances, and the crazy shit. And you will do them LOTS with me! I love teaching the bigger meanings of these or the intricacies of the muscle engagement. I have a version for everyone. No matter what. Everyone gets to play. Within safety for everyone in class. Within the bounds of safety for your body and those around you. You can do whatever the fuck you want to do with your body on your time, but with me, we’re going to have some bounds.
I’m not competitive, so if you’re looking to ‘nail’ a posture or work without props to challenge yourself, I will frustrate the hell out of you.
I will offer you the most authentic version of me, always. I will always sit with you without masks or shows. The good and the bad. I will offer up my human experience to encourage you to be authentic as well.
I do think it’s important to ask yourself if you resonate with your teachers weight, age, etc. There have been times in my personal practice that teachers who were very thin and toned triggered my feelings of ‘not good enough’ & body image issues. But these were MY triggers, not their problem or fault. I was more comfortable with teachers who had similarities to my physical shape. I have been many different sizes through my yoga journey, and there were times that I needed a teacher to tell me how to adjust for giant boobs in a twist or to feel more comfortable in a forward fold because I felt like my belly was too. big.
I hope this starts a conversation around the truth that not every teacher is for everybody.
And that’s ok!!!!!! The more voices we have in front of classes, the more different people we will resonate with and bring them into this magical world of yoga that we love.
Choose your teacher. Try them on. Find the one that fits YOU.
Don’t choose your teacher (or style) based on the time of the class. If the time works but you don’t resonate with the teacher, your wasting your time anyway. Find a class at the right time, with the right teacher.
I have been so lucky to find some of the most amazing humans that practice with me. We have built community. These people found me, tried me on, and decided that I was right for them. They know that I’m wild. They know that they are held in safe space while with me. They know I’m going to dance like a stripper when the right song comes on. They love the cues ‘tits up’, and ‘turn your ass on’. They know it’s going to be challenging; It’s not going to be easy. They don’t want it to be. They know that I am going to keep them safe, both physically and emotionally while in class. They know that when I put my hands on them to assist, it will be strong and safe.
I will never be the zen-like teacher, offering quiet, soft experiences. It’s just not me. Seriously, have you ever talked to me? I’m basically the Miss Vanjie of the yoga world(google her if you don’t know). I take marketing advice from the most offensive asshole on Instagram(Lady Boner for Ryan Orrrico). If lavender spray ever mists your face while in Savasana, I can guarantee that you were not in a class with me. I will give you an AMAZING assist though in Savasana that will change how you feel about your shoulders forever.
Moral of the story:
You deserve the right teacher for YOU! Find them! Come see me if I sound like I might float your boat. But, don’t expect me, or other teachers, to be right for everybody, and be ok with that. A teacher is still amazing if you don’t like them. They just weren’t the right pair of jeans for you. But for someone else, they’re fucking perfect.
A student recently asked me if I have any ‘normal’ yoga clothes. I’m not going to be Right for him. Poor thing. My clothes are the most normal part of my teaching.
See ya in class family.