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)

Advertisements

A visual history of my stomach throughout the ages

Image

A visual history of my stomach throughout the ages

Ireland Live Blog (From America (and not live))

Back when my live blog was still live, Anne and I had just survived a terrifying clockwise journey around the Ring of Kerry and sang classic Irish ballads (James Taylor, Oasis, etc.) in the Dingle Pub.  Although we’ve been home for ages now, I feel compelled to complete the live blog so future readers don’t get concerned that we perished from an apple pucker incident.  

Before I get to the additional details of our travel, it’s important to note a major shift that occurred somewhere around Dingle.  A small discovery led to a huge change in how we saw the country and what became important.  I discovered the “miniaturize” feature on our camera and from that point forward, my sole purpose in life became finding things that would look awesome as miniatures.  I no longer cared about beautiful scenery, sleepy pubs, or romantic hideaways.  Unless they would look good smaller, and then I cared a lot.

In case you’re not familiar with the epicness that is miniaturization (and you’re probably not), here is a picture of a group of golfers on the 18th hole of the Old Head golf course:

And here is the same picture but with the golfers “miniaturized”:

Looking at these pictures now, on a big computer screen, I realize that the difference isn’t all that substantial.  I’m not even completely certain that I correctly labeled the miniature picture.  But on that little screen on the back of the camera, I would laugh and laugh and laugh every time I found something to make miniature.  I’m putting words into her mouth here, but it’s fair to say that Anne hated me by this point of the trip.

I should also mention that those photos were taken after Anne arrived at the golf course.  It looked beautiful and pleasant when she showed up.

When I was playing golf, it looked like this:

But back to the trip.

After leaving Dingle (!), Anne and I headed to Galway via the Conor Pass. The Conor Pass is Ireland’s highest mountain pass.  In Irish, “highest” actually means “treacherous, narrow, curvy, unpassable, and with sheep-towing trucks speeding towards you.”:

Thankfully, I remained quite calm throughout:

In case you were wondering, that slick ride we were driving was a VW Golf:

Yeah, that’s right.  I miniaturized it.

We barely survived Conor Pass and arrived at the most scenic overlook in Ireland.  Everyone we talked to said that the view would be our the reward for surviving the treacherous driving conditions.

Here’s how it looked when we got there:

From there, it was on to Cliffs of Moher, one of the new seven wonders of the world (currently ranked 24 of 28 for the title).  The cliffs are one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions.  Most likely achieving this status by having a website labeling themselves as one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions.

Words cannot describe a world wonder, but if forced to try, I would say that they looked like large cliffs with tourists taking photos.  If describing them to my mom, I would probably call them “breathtaking” or exhale loudly in a show of exuberance.  That would make her happy.

If you have the Internet, you don’t really need to go to the Cliffs because they look exactly like they do in the pictures.

For comparison’s sake, here’s my photo:

Right after taking this picture, my focus shifted from miniaturizing things to making the same joke (admittedly a terrible terrible joke) ovher and ovher for the rest of the day.  Mostly, I joked about how bohering the cliffs of Moher were and how we should pick up some souvenirs at one of the stohers.  If you lowher your standards for a moment, I think you’ll appreciate the humor in it.  Anne particularly disliked the jokes with the punch line, “I hardly even moher.”  As in:

Anne:  Do you want to go to the Cliffs of Moher today?
Rob:  Mo Her?  I hardly even Moher.

Well, that one doesn’t work exactly.  But you get the gist.

A little known fact about the Cliffs – if you pay 3 Euro moher than the regular entry fee, you can head up to the O’Brien viewing center, which the guidebook said provided the best view of the Cliffs.  We knew it would be a good view because only Americans were savvy enough to pay to see it.

Once again, we were rewarded for our reliance on the guidebook:

There are some additional details about our trip that I’d like to share.  But you’ll just have to wait because I JUST discovered a new feature on the camera.