Haleakala, Maui - HAWAII

Haleakala, Maui – HAWAII

I just had the worst yoga experience. The teacher was 10 minutes late. He didn’t apologize—he just launched into yelling instructions and proceeded to “correct” student postures by poking a long, pointer-like stick at their ribs, shoulder blades, sacrum and other body parts. I’ve practiced yoga for 12 years now, in various states and countries, and never have I seen such a thing. This teacher was new to me, and I was not impressed, though the class was full and he seemed to have a following.

At the first prod, my husband and I looked at each other with surprise and confusion on our faces. “If he touches me with that stick, we’re going to have a big problem,” I whispered. I did end up staying the duration of the class—I took it as a challenge to focus on myself and “make it MY class” as other teachers have encouraged. Plus, I like to think every teacher has something to teach me. On this night I re-learned that kind words and an inspiring attitude always motivate me more than fear and a stern voice. I grew up in a military household and such tactics stifled my growth instead of nurturing it. There I learned to be quiet and never share a differing opinion or vulnerable feeling, for fear of being berated or spanked. Modeling good poses (and behavior) makes me aspire to be like the teachers who demonstrate such things, whether in yoga or writing or anything else.

I have heard horror stories from young writers about mean English teachers with red pens and I’ve witnessed creativity-crushing struggles with grammar. This yoga was listed as an intro class. I hate to imagine what a newcomer might think of yoga if this were his or her only impression. I won’t be returning to this particular yoga class. I will continue my practice with teachers I find more effective and I will always strive to uplift in my writing classes. I never want to squash anyone’s potential.