Whether you're in your first class or one of many, here are three quick ways to spot a dangerous yoga class and stay safe.
They say there's no such thing as a bad yoga class, but there are dangerous ones.
As a student and a teacher, I look at each class as an opportunity to actually "practice" my yoga. This means if I don't love the teacher, the music, the flow, or the style, I remind myself that yoga is a reflection of life. We learn to find the good, navigate the unpleasant and take care of ourselves in the kindest way possible.
So, while there are no bad yoga classes, here are three signs you might be in a dangerous one:
1. The teacher doesn't ask permission to adjust.
This one is a biggie. There's history in your body: injuries, soreness and trauma depending on the day. It's impossible for a teacher to know each student's body personally, so asking "Who doesn't want to be adjusted today?" while having you raise an arm in child's pose or a leg in downward dog is a sign of an aware teacher.
Starting class or adjusting you without checking in is a sign of carelessness. Quietly say no thank you or shake your head when it starts to happen. You won't offend the teacher and taking care of your body with healthy personal boundaries is part of your yoga practice.
2. While adjusting, the teacher moves you into the adjustment quickly and aggressively.
Adjustments should be done in micro movements: 1/8 of an inch, 1/4 inch, etc. while asking for feedback every step of the way. I recently winced as a teacher moved my shoulder back a good two inches quickly and reactivated an old injury. An experienced teacher goes slow and checks in every step of the way. Speak up, let the teacher know if you're injured and again, shake your head no if you're not comfortable. Every day is a different day when it comes to your body.
3. The teacher only demonstrates advanced postures.
I've seen a trend of Cirque du Soliel-esque postures being shown by teachers in classes lately, and while it's certainly motivating to see what's possible, not giving alternative modifications, regardless of class level is irresponsible. It's great to aspire to advanced poses, but building strength takes time.
Have patience with yourself and don't let your ego get the best of you. A sign of an advanced yogi is having respect for where you are today and not muscling through poses with force and determination.
Seane Corn once started a class by taking child's pose and saying: "This is warrior 4 pose. It's the most advanced posture we can do because it requires setting our ego aside and instead listen to our body."
Our bodies are strong yet vulnerable.
The responsibility of staying safe is ultimately in our own hands. Yoga not only builds a strong and healthy body, it facilitates healthy self-esteem and self-awareness. Be aware of where you are in each moment and respect your body enough to know when it's best to hold back, and when it's time to stretch out of your comfort zone.
Via Daily Transformations
Photo of author via Om Light Photography/Jim Campbell photographer