It’s a sad day when you realize that no matter how old you get, no matter how many life experiences you’ve had and no matter how much you think you’ve grown, there are still people out there who can transform you from a mature thinking adult into a five year old throwing a temper tantrum.
Adults throwing temper tantrums are nothing new in my life. After all, I grew up in the world of dance where arrested development and diva behaviour is acceptable. Many of us have worked hard to escape that destructive behaviour pattern and yet…I’m in a yoga class…that sea of tranquility in a world of chaos and by the time the teacher finishes her hearts, sunbeams and inner peace soliloquy – I want to pick up my water bottle and throw it at her head.
The first time my anger levels started to boil up in a yoga class, I blamed myself. I was obviously having a bad day and taking out my frustrations on the innocents around me. I started to get frustrated because the anger kept coming back over and over again. Sometime around the fifth time it happened, I finally clued into something. I was always with the same teacher.
That really shocked me. I can pretty much get along with most people OR at least not let silly people bother me. And yet here was this one teacher who managed to bypass all my coping mechanisms and make me want to slap someone silly. More shocking to me was that all this was happening in a yoga studio. Not out on the street where the crazies of the world take aim at every passerby, not in my “take no prisoners” grocery store where I have to steel my nerves before I shop for my food, not in traffic where every middle-aged man in a little truck is trying to run me over – no it happened in a yoga studio. In a place that promotes tolerance, inclusiveness, non-violence, etc. I had to really sit down and think. What was it about this teacher that irritated me so much? The answers were numerous.
She teaches her class with terminology that the average person cannot understand, talking about chakras, using only the Sanskrit names for the poses or telling the class to engage their pelvic floor. Seriously, how many people know where their pelvic floor is? She has forgotten that yoga is meant to be accessible.
Her sequencing of the poses makes no sense whatsoever. She is totally unaware of the many students in her class who are struggling to do as she has asked. She has forgotten that her main task is to make sure that her students’ practice is safe.
For those of us who modify her poses to make them possible, she loudly questions our choices and opens us up to embarrassment. Personally – I’m not stupid and after 54 years of movement training – I know what I need to do to be safe. She has forgotten to be tolerant of our differences.
She talks to me (and others) like we are children. There is nothing that irritates me more than being lectured to by someone who doesn’t have enough life experience to know that they don’t know everything. For me (and many others), yoga is a conversation between the student and the teacher. We learn from each other. This teacher needs no conversations with her students; she simply wants witnesses to her existence. She has forgotten the art of learning which is essential for a healthy yoga practice.
I have made several friends promise me that if I ever, ever get out of control like this teacher, that they will pick up the first water bottle they find and chuck it at my head. And dear friends – please don’t miss because I will deserve the whack. So what have I done as far as this irritating teacher goes? I’ve stopped taking her classes. If I feel the urgent need to practice patience in the midst of irritating people – I’ll go grocery shopping.