Fitness Magazine

9 Tips for Being a Good Yoga Student

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Nina

9 Tips for Being a Good Yoga Student

Teacher's Birthday by Norman Rockwell*

In my post When to Fire Your Yoga Teacher I wrote about the responsibility that a yoga teacher has (or should have) to respect his or her students. But like every relationship, the teacher-student relationship is one that goes both ways. All of us here at Yoga for Healthy Aging are both yoga teachers and yoga students. No matter how much or for how long we’ve taught, we also still take public classes from valued teachers we highly respect. So we have a pretty good idea of how to conduct ourselves on both sides of the equation. And, frankly, I’ve recently heard some disturbing stories about student behavior, including a student who seriously injured himself after ignoring his teacher’s warnings. So I decided it was time to write a little something about how to be a yoga student.After giving it some thought (and talking with one of my teacher friends), I’ve come up with the following guidelines. This list has just been updated after my original post (see Eight tips for Being a Good Yoga Student). However, if you have more suggestions for guidelines you think I’ve overlooked, please comment on this post or send me an email, and maybe I’ll update once again!
  1. Tell your teacher before class about any injuries, medical problems, or other issues that might affect your performance during class. See What Your Yoga Teacher Really Wants to Know for details about what kind of info your teacher needs to keep you safe.
  2. Make an effort to show up on time to class. All your yoga classes are planned with appropriate warm-up or opening poses, and missing the beginning of class can affect your ability to do the rest of the sequence. Besides, it’s just good manners!
  3. Pay attention to your teacher’s instructions. We all have wandering minds—the kids, the job, your date tonight, the phone call from your mom yesterday, dinner—ooh, yes—but concentrating as best as possible on being present in your class will not only help you stay safe (which is a priority for your teacher), but you’ll also learn more. In addition, staying present will make your yoga session more effective at reducing stress levels as you get a break from your everyday worries.
  4. If your teacher asks you not to do something because he or she is concerned for your safety, don’t do it, even if you feel confident that it won’t be a problem for you. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Okay? Your teacher may be wrong, but he or she is trying to look out for everyone in the class.
  5. If your teacher asks you to do something that you don’t usually do and don’t particularly want to do—use a particular prop, change your alignment, try a new pose, and so on—go ahead and try it, just this time. You might learn something new, and you can do whatever you want later in your home practice. The only exception to this is if you feel your teacher is asking something that will put you at risk for injury or other harm, or something that you are absolutely too frightened to try. In this case, briefly explain why you can’t do it, and ask for an alternative.
  6. Rest if you need to (see Resting Between Poses). Stop if you are in pain (see When to Stop Practicing Yoga). Looking after yourself is a great favor to both your teacher and yourself.
  7. Don’t flirt with your teacher, ask your teacher on a date, or make inappropriate personal remarks (you know what I mean). Good yoga teachers don’t have romantic relationships with their students, and overstepping the boundaries they are trying to maintain only makes them—and other people in the class—uncomfortable. (I hate to have to bring this up, but, really, I’ve heard some disconcerting things over the years....)
  8. Also, respect your teacher's boundaries and limitations regarding time spent with you outside of class. Asking a simple question before or after class is appropriate and often welcomed, but you should not request free advice or guidance outside of the classroom, whether in person, by phone, or by email. Of course, many teachers give private lessons for a fee, so if you need or want personal attention and can afford it, consider that alternative.
  9. After class, give your teacher occasional feedback about what you found helpful, what you found confusing, or what didn’t work for you (very politely, of course!). All of us teachers want to continue to learn and, hopefully, improve, and getting occasional feedback is very valuable. So don’t be shy!
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