The 9 Rules Every Yoga Teacher Should Follow

The 9 rules every yoga teacher should follow by Rob Pollak - Tips for yoga teachers and instructors

Nine simple things that every yoga teacher can do to make class a little bit more awesome.

Rule 1: Pay Attention to me!

Most yoga teachers really like yoga and also happen to be very good at it. These traits, however, do not mean that I’m taking your class to watch you be awesome. If that’s what I was seeking, I’d flip on your youtube channel. Please don’t forget the real, live, disgustingly sweaty people right there behind you. So, goddamnit, pay attention to us!

The best teachers strike a balance between showing off their mad skills and watching students struggle to get the little things right. They use their strength and ability to demonstrate or highlight certain aspects of a pose rather than to show off a one-handed side crow headstand that they’ve been working on in their Super-level 8 goddess class.

If I leave class thinking, “Wow, that teacher was sooo good at yoga,” then something went horribly wrong. I should walk by the treadmills on my way out of the gym thinking, “Wow, I am freaking awesome at yoga. Suck it, runners!”

A Yoga drawing by rob pollak - 9 rules every yoga teacher should follow

Rule 2: Introduce yourself to your students:

Loyal readers of mine will remember that I’m working on introducing myself. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t introduce yourself to me first.

All it takes is a one second conversation in which the teacher comes over and says, “Hey, I’m [insert hippie name]. Have you done yoga before? Any questions? Namaste, bro.” Boom – Instant openness and camaraderie.

However, since we’re preaching mindfulness here, just remember to be mindful of your junk:

Rules every yoga teacher should follow - Rule 2 Introduce yourself.  Tips for yoga teachers by Rob Pollak

3. Ignore Anything You Weren’t Supposed to See.

Look, things happen in yoga classes. Like the time I saw the entire left ball of the guy practicing next to me. Or how every time I jump from a standing fold into a push up, my shirt flies up a little bit, exposing the lower portion of my back (aka the upper portion of my ass). Look, I realize that the teacher is going to see everything that’s going on down there. Maybe he or she will even give it a once or twice over to size me up. Totally cool. There’s just no need to draw attention to the fact that I’ve got a little hair down there. Or that my love handles make twisting poses slightly more difficult.

How about we just agree to keep a few things between us?

In other words, maybe the moment my naked back and partially naked ass are exposed is not the best time for you to do that adjustment. You know the one. It’s when you grab my hips and pull them back or rest your hand on the sweaty small of my back and push with all your might. Yeah, save that for my first down dog. Just before the sweating starts.

I suspect we’ll both be happy with that agreement.

Tips for yoga teachers - Ignore anything you shouldn't see - a drawing by Rob Pollak

4. If you’re gonna Om, Om loudly.

At first, I admittedly did not like chanting “om.” Now, I can tolerate it. Maybe sometimes it’s kind of nice. Oh whatever. You caught me. I like it. So what. This isn’t the place for judgment.

Listen up, teachers: If you’re going to start with an Om, then do so with gusto-mmmm. Trust me, the class will follow your lead. But if you are timid and mousy with your om, then guess what? Your class will be quiet and timid and self-conscious when they holla’ back.

Also — and this is admittedly quite selfish of me — I’m 100 percent tone-deaf, so if you say it loud and say it proud, then I can join in without others noticing that I am the discordant MF’er ruining spiritual bliss.

Tips for yoga teachers - don't acknowledge tone deaf people during Om.  A drawing by Rob Pollak

5. Remember my name and use it.

We’ve already agreed that introductions are key. Well, that’s the easy part. The hard part is remembering those names and then using them throughout class. A deftly timed “Nice job, Bikram,” or “Sweet crow, Baba,” or “Pull your hips back, Tara” really pulls those people into the class.

But surprisingly, even when the teacher refers to someone else by name, I find that I try harder.

I’m all, “I want that too.” “Hey look at me!” “Don’t you think my crow is good?” “I’m trying so hard over here, you guys!”

Even a “whoa, looking a little sweaty, Rob” wins me over. Or, if you want to ignore rule 3, I’ll even take an “I can see a little bit of your ass crack, Rob. Pull up your pants, you disgusting slob.”

Tips for yoga teachers - Remember my name and I'm yours forever - a drawing by Rob Pollak

6. Go easy on the Rumi, okay?

Oh wow, you studied at an Ashram in India! And then you memorized all of Rumi’s quotes? You don’t say! That’s amazing!!! Sincerely.

But you know who doesn’t even know what an Ashram is? Guess who never took English 101 in college and doesn’t understand “quotes”? Oh yeah, that’s right! This guy.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up on Rumi altogether. What it means is that you should feel free to explain things to me. Even the stuff that seem painfully obvious. Because when you say a quote and then say, “well that speaks for itself,” what I’m thinking is “No. That doesn’t speak for itself. I hate this stupid class. I don’t get it. Wah wah wah poor me.”

While I’m thinking that, I’m sitting there nodding my head pretending to look like I have the slightest clue what you’re saying. Then I start thinking, “Damn, I bet she smoked a tonnnnn of a pot in college. That’s so hot.”

Tips for yoga instructors - keep the lessons simple, especially the rumi. A drawing by Rob Pollak

7. Come On, Speak English.

For the first three months I practiced yoga, I mistakenly thought every Sanskrit word meant Savasana. For any non-yoga people reading this, Savasana is a made up word that literally translates to “lie on the floor while thinking about everything you were supposed to do today but didn’t.”

Yoga teachers of America, you know how to fix that problem? Just speak English. We all understand English (except the Latvian woman who sometimes comes to that Vinyasa flow class on Wednesdays), so everyone will be on the same page when you say “Do crow.”

An added benefit: You may avoid that tattoo in Sanskrit. The one you think means, “Peaceful Warrior” but actually means, “judgmental douchebag” Oops!

Tip number 7 for yoga teachers, sanskrit cartoon by rob pollak

8. Be Considerate of Your Diverse Class When Giving Instructions.

So what if your class is usually all hot limber women? I’m here now, and I’d like to feel welcome, too! In order to make everyone feel at home, yoga teachers should give instructions that are mindful of the entirety of the class, not its largest component.

So no more “put this block under your bra strap,” or “you should feel a good stretch in your vagina.”

The bra strap is not an okay reference point - Rules for yoga teachers - a drawing by Rob Pollak

9. Make Class Fun!

This goes without saying, but if I’m having fun, I’m not thinking about how much I hate the teacher for all of the horrible painful things she’s making me do. So make it fun.

One incredibly easy way to make yoga more fun is by sharing this post with everyone you’ve ever met. And then following this blog at www.robpollak.com or on facebook.

The nine rules for yoga teachers - rule 9 make class fun - a drawing by Rob Pollak

(Selfish note:  This also appears at Elephant Journal:  Click the link so they will give me money)

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How Yoga Cured My Anxiety, Laziness, and Intense Cynicism

Rob Pollak blog yoga picture Jamaice

(Here’s my latest for Elephant Journal: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/01/how-yoga-cured-my-anxiety-laziness-intense-cynicism-rob-pollak/)

Three small ways Yoga helped me set attainable new year’s resolutions.

Before we get started, there are three things you should probably know:

  1. My name is Rob (it’s nice to meet you);
  2. Elephant Journal recently asked me to be a recurring contributor (I said yes); and
  3. Today is January 11th (which, if you’re scoring at home, is a little late for a blog post about New Year’s resolutions).

Why do I care that you know three tidbits of information that on their face are completely uninteresting and mind-numbingly boring?

Because these three little statements represent a whole lot more. They represent a way for me to bring you inside this insane little head of mine. Only then can you start to understand how a few simple new year’s resolutions will help make 2013 epic, and how my new sense of yogic calm will provide me with tools to stick with them.

Resolutions used to be those stupid deals I made with myself at the beginning of the year but forgot by – oh, I don’t know – January 10th. But this year, when I say I’m bringing a yogic calm to my resolutions, what I mean is that I plan to do things that are meaningful to me, but also attainable. It means stepping out of my comfort zone but not so far that my goals become derailed by those inevitable little slip ups.

To start the year on the right foot, I’m throwing my old resolutions out the window.

Good bye, “lose 100 pounds.”

See ya later, “eat healthy.”

Suck it, “read the newspaper every day.”

Rot in hell “quit watching reruns of The Biggest Loser while binging on a scoop bowl pint gallon of Haagen Dazs” (Note – I didn’t even have to look up the spelling of that. Terrifying!).

This year, My resolutions all help make me a little more pleasant to be around. You’re welcome world!

Here are three of the goals that I’ve set and how I hope to meet them.

Resolution 1: Introduce myself more.

I sometimes describe myself as an outgoing introvert. When I feel comfortable in an environment, I don’t shut up. I’ll annoy you until you hate me. Kind of like I’m doing right now. Then, I’ll try so hard to win you over that eventually you’ll come around and start rooting for me. I’m like the kid from the movie Rudy — except without determination, athletic ability, or an overly jowl-y smile. My mixed level of confidence was apparent from a very young age:

Rob Pollak as a fat kid in a blazer on his birthdayBut the truth is that despite that outgoing bravado, on the inside I am anxious and meek when confronted with a new group of people. I hope and pray that someone else will step up and take that first step of introduction.

Practicing yoga helped me realize this trait. When I first went to classes, I’d huddle in the back of the room, timidly balled up in the corner. There, I’d hope that the teachers would introduce themselves to me and relieve my nervousness. With my big ol’ belly, a cotton shirt, and a puddle of sweat at my feet, I felt like an outsider to the Lululemon catalogue occupying the other mats in the room.

But that’s a pretty bad way of living Who wants to talk to a timid sweatball? Exactly!

So I resolved to get better at introductions. You can’t introduce yourself to someone if you’re shy or timid. It might mean faking it, or playing out the conversation 1400 times in my head before it happens, but chances are, other people hate introductions too. By stepping up and taking initiative, I can not only make my life better, but I can also relive the anxiety and lameness of others.

Resolution 2: Say yes to more things.

A few ways I have been described:

  • Cynical
  • a hater
  • Mr. negative
  • Mr. negativity
  • Senor Negativo
  • super lame
  • annoying
  • annoyed
  • an a$$hole
  • Pessimistic
  • a glass half empty kind of guy
  • a glass totally empty kind of guy
  • a glassless guy
  • pudgy
  • A fun-hater
  • a mega-fun-hater
  • handsome.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, sometimes I have a bad attitude:

Picture of Rob Pollak looking annoyed - yoga post

Well that’s all about to change! It’s time to get over those fun-hating, lazy, anxious ways. The anticipation of doing things is often worse than the actual doing of those things.

One way to get over my anxiety is to just start saying yes to more challenges and opportunities. By being more agreeable, I hope that taking possibilities into my own hands and trying to not let great opportunities slip through the cracks.

This actually reminds me of a yoga teacher who once shared an amazing inspirational quote. It was perfectly on point about this topic and completely changed my life and outlook on the world. If I remembered it, I would totally share it with you right now.

Oh! Got it:

“Every time an opportunity presents itself, take it; Otherwise, greatness will pass you by.”

– Some Famous Yoga Philospher

Okay, fine. I just made that up. But aren’t those great words to live by? I say yes.

Resolution 3: Commit to things and then finish them.

[note to self – insert paragraph explaining how I want to get better at finishing things that I commit to].

Medicinal Masturbation: The Man’s Role in IVF

This is part two of a hopefully lifelong series about fatherhood.  To read part one, Click Here

If you enjoy this, please support me by clicking through to the Elephant Journal:  http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/01/medicinal-masturbation-the-mans-role-in-ivf-rob-pollak/

The IVF Process for Men:

The IVF process is horribly unbalanced.

The woman visits the hospital on an almost daily basis for monitoring and blood-testing, takes a slew of medications via injection (each with its own warning of side effects that eerily mirror PMS), and feels changes to her body that make it impossible to find the process anything other than all encompassing.

The male, on the other hand, is responsible for much much less.

In my case, I was responsible for parking the car near the hospital, guarding our coats in the waiting room, and making terribly unfunny and inappropriate jokes when I was allowed in the examination room.  (An example: “You could have at least bought her a drink first.”)

An IVF Checklist by Rob Pollak - The Man's Role in IVF

Speaking of inappropriate things . . . That reminds me of the other task I had during the process.  As a male donor, I had to visit the “Boom Boom Room.”

The Boom Boom Room

I visited the boom boom room (“BBR”) three times along the way.  If you’re not familiar with the BBR, it’s a magical place where male patients “provide” a “sample” of “specimen” that a doctor “uses” “for” “IVF.”  

In Japan, there are industries built around the BBR – even for the ladies. Although it sounds like the kind of place that one might want to visit every day, the room is actually equal parts terrifying and uncomfortable.

A typical visit to the BBR proceeds as follows:

First, you’re led to a waiting room where you and other patients desperately try to avoid eye contact.

Drawing by Rob Pollak - A man's role in the IVF process

Then, you wait for the nurse to come return to the waiting room and summon you to your stall.

The nurse then leads you to the room itself and explains the logistics of the room.  For the most part, it looks like a regular hospital room.

It’s cold.  There’s a sink and a generic painting of a tree.  For the fetishists, there’s a blood pressure machine and a stethoscope hanging on the wall.

The primary differences between the BBR and a regular room are that:

  1. the sterile hospital table has been replaced with a big brown barcalounger.  It has a small sheet of paper that “protects” you from the nude man-ass that previously occupied the seat; and
  2. there is a wide array of “recreational materials” around the room.

A drawing by Rob Pollak of the boom boom room:  where the man goes during IVF

The office I visited included an assortment of sources to help stimulate the imagination.   These included fine magazines such as Cherry, Barely Legal, and the aptly named, Juggs.

Or, for those with a more refined taste, a closed circuit television played a constant loop of three movies:

  1.  “The DaVinci Load,”
  2. Spanish Asses (en espanol), and
  3. Something that terrified me and is impossible to describe in either words or stick figures.

Once the nurse leaves, you try to figure out a way turn on the television without touching the remote or read the magazines without touching them.

If you can accomplish either of those tasks, then the anxiety kicks in and your mind fills with weird questions:

  • How long is too long to spend in the BBR?
  • Is the volume a little loud?
  • What does Chupas mis huevos mean?
  • Was the doctor serious when he said that if there were any problems that there’s a surgical procedure to remove the swimmers from the scrotum?
  • Isn’t scrotum a funny word?
  • Why can’t I have a room like this in my house?
  • Was there a DaVinci Load book?  I bet it was better than the movie.
  • Did I lock the door?
  • What’s in the garbage can that says “do not put garbage here?”
  • If I finish now, is the nurse going to judge me?

Next thing you know, you’re all done, so you complete the survey the nurse left with you and place the cup of specimen into a secret panel in the wall (seriously).  A magical fairy — (Please God let it be a magical fairy and not the andrologist who was sitting mere inches from me on the other side of the wall) — removes the sample, and then it’s out of your hands and up to science.

All that’s left to do is hope for a happy ending.

(Get it??  Happy ending?)

(Like the massage parlors)

(No, not the ABC sitcom)

——–

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More personalized thank you drawings for my amazing and talented readers

I’ve been working furiously through the holiday season to get to each and everyone of my devout readers.  Many of whom will never see these since they ignore my posts.  Regardless, I hope that you enjoy them and try not to get mad if I haven’t gotten to you yet. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, it merely means that I haven’t figured out an offensive yet somehow still inoffensive way to say thanks.  Your time will come (except for the one person who “unliked” me since yesterday.  I hope that person suffers a horrible stubbed toe today).

A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com

A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com

A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com
A thank you drawing by Rob Pollak robpollak.com