6 Common Questions Yoga Students Have but Are Too Afraid to Ask

Jessie Wren
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Ever wonder what goes on in your yoga instructor’s head? Before I became an instructor, I would try to impress my teacher for fear of being judged. Sometimes I felt like I had to try postures that my body was not ready for simply to “impress” my instructor. As the years went by, I started gaining more questions:

“What if I decide to take Childs Pose even though Pigeon was cued?”

“I know the instructor wants me to do Warrior One, but right now I just want to do Crescent.”

“I have not been adjusted all class, and everyone else around me has – do I smell bad?”

These are questions that I believe everyone has at one point or another, and I’m here to share the yoga instructor’s perspective.
 
I have been teaching yoga for over two years now. The questions don’t stop once you become an instructor; in fact they become more complicated! It may surprise some of you, but most instructors are nervous as hell about being judged by their students. Sometimes I think,
 
“Did they enjoy that class?”

“What if my sequence didn’t work for that particular body?”

“Do my cues make sense?”

The fact is that we all have questions and insecurities from time to time, but the point is to move beyond them to find contentment and peace within your yoga practice.
 
To answer some of your common questions and hopefully give you a bit more peace in your practice, I humbly offer my perspective as a yoga instructor:
 

Is my teacher judging me?

Absolutely not. I have a lot of friends who are teachers and we ALL started out as beginners. We are still yoga students in our personal practice, and no one – yoga students and teachers alike – ever stops growing and evolving in their practice. I take extra care of my beginner yoga students because I know how intimidating entering a yoga class can be when you’re new. I truly believe the simple act of showing up says so much to an instructor. We do not judge whether or not your hips are square in Warrior One. We give cues so you can eventually work up to the postures.

I used to be scared to take Childs Pose in the middle of sequences because I thought it showed everyone that I was weak. Now, I have learned that people who know when to back off and rest are far more advanced. When you are self-aware and in control of your ego, you are able to listen to your body and honor what it’s saying. I had a hard time with this as a beginner and now I take Childs Pose whenever I feel like I need it. Same with using blocks. I used to never use a block because “blocks are for beginners and I’m not a beginner yogi.” But once I incorporated blocks into my practice, I actually felt the benefits of the postures. We as yoga instructors LOVE when you listen to your body and honor what it’s saying by taking stillness when you want, and using any prop you feel you need.
 

Why am I not getting adjusted?

Yoga instructors love to help students deepen their practice both physically and mentally. Advanced students tend to love adjustments, while studies show that most beginners prefer not to be touched. So if you are wondering why your teacher isn’t pushing on you during Down Dog, don’t take that personal. Usually that just means the instructor wants to get more comfortable with you and your practice and let you truly feel the postures on your own first. Trust me, we know what every student smells like and body odor does not bother us. I even worry about my students judging my smell, so the road goes both ways here.
 

Can I leave to go to the bathroom in the middle of class?

While it is not ideal to take a bathroom break in the middle of a yoga class, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Just try to wait until movement stops before you walk out, and also when you return. For example, a good time would be once everyone is back to Down Dog or taking Childs Pose. Try not to leave while everyone is in the middle of a pose because this is distracting and can take away from other student’s focus and overall experience. Just try to leave as quietly as possible. I have never been in a class where an instructor stops students from using the restroom. The point is to respect everyone else’s practice and focus by not leaving disruptively.
 

 

Does my instructor mind when I advance the postures on my own?

To give both sides of the story, sometimes the instructor has a specific idea of what they want you to do to get the maximum benefit out of a posture. Personally, I do not mind when students don’t follow my instructions exactly, unless I specify otherwise ahead of time. If you are aware of what you are doing, and you know the instructor well enough, then it is okay to venture off. Otherwise, I would stick to the script. To avoid any injuries, really pay attention to the minute details instructors give, especially in the stretching postures.
 

Am I being judged by drinking out of a plastic water bottle?

This is a question I used to ask myself when I first started practicing yoga. We are all aware of the negative environmental impacts plastic creates. Yoga instructors are sometimes stereotyped as hippies and environmentalists, so they must “hate plastic” right? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for the most part, no. A good yoga teacher accepts students for who they are and won’t try to push their beliefs on anyone. Besides, we have so much on our minds when we teach a class, we probably won’t even notice what people are drinking out of.
 

Do I have to OM at the end of class with everyone else?

Most instructors will give a description of the OM and how to do it if they notice a lot of new faces in class. Matching your voice with everyone is just a way of closing classes and “making the sound of the universe.” You are not joining a cult by participating in the OM at the end of class. Bottom line: it is completely your decision. If you prefer not to OM, then don’t! No one knows or cares if you AUM or not. It took me a year to really feel comfortable OM-ing at the end of class. It will come to you when it is ready, and if you don’t like it, simply don’t do it.
 
To sum it all up, simply showing up to class is all you have to do. If you have to pee in the middle of class, by all means use the restroom. If you want to use blocks, that is why they are there. If you want to take Savasana the whole time (I’ve had people do that), take Savasana the whole time. The entire point of the physical yoga practice is to calm the mind and prepare it for meditation, so showing up to class and spending time with yourself is really what matters most.
 
Don’t worry about what your instructor thinks of you – worry about what YOU think of you. Listen to your body, rest when you want to rest, and don’t be afraid to ask questions after class. Instructors love when students are interested in learning with a desire to deepen their personal yoga practice. And if all else fails, there’s always Savasana. ☺
 

This article has been read 10K+ times. Bada bing!

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Jessie Wren

An Arizona native, Jesse finds peace within her yoga practice, and spreads light through her yoga teaching and writing. She loves connecting with herself and others through meditation, asana, and a healthy lifestyle. You can find Jesse traveling the world, writing about inspiration, and taste-testing every sushi restaurant ever.

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