Confessions of a yoga instructor

Fitness

Yoga teachers are all calm, clean-eating, spiritually superior human beings, right? Wrong. They probably eat junk food, sometimes miss practice *gasp* and majority are actually quite insecure. Here’s the unfiltered version of what really goes on in the mind of a yoga teacher, according to Sarah Fretwell

We love a child’s pose

Yup, we yoga teachers are only human, and sometimes we can lose our flow. When there are 20+ students to lead through a sequence, it’s quite easy to forget the movement we had planned, especially if we have to quickly improvise due to different students’ abilities. We need to keep the rhythm of the class going, while remembering to do both right and left sides. And if we took everyone through a really long, creative or complicated sequence on the right side, we need to be able to remember the whole thing to repeat on the left side. However, occasionally we mess up and forget our lines. Our sneaky solution? Get everyone into child’s pose ASAP while we regain our control and composure and figure out our next move. It works like charm.

We don’t care what your feet look like

No, we really don’t give a damn, so please, please take those socks off! We don’t care that you’ve not painted your toe nails, or whether your second toe is longer than your big toe. But we DO care that you use your feet properly. So when we say “activate those toes” while you’re in standing splits, we want to see those toes awake, not sleeping. Your feet are your best ally when it comes to practising yoga. They help you balance, whether you’re flying in handstand or soaring into warrior 3, so learn to love them and they will love you back.

We really wish you’d close your eyes in Savasana

Ahh savasana. You finally made it. The perfect pose in which to relax after a whole hour or more of movement. Or is it? We see you, your eyes blinking as you stare up towards the ceiling. Please allow yourself to drop into your savasana and give yourself permission to let go. Sometimes, surrendering can be much harder than keeping moving, so if you’re someone who is quite yang dominant and finds it hard to switch off, then practice lying there and doing nothing. You can try this at home, after a busy day, using a bolster and a blanket, and it really helps the mind to start to settle. All too often we look around the room at the end of the class and see yogis staring up into space, and we can see their brains ticking away at lightning speed. Shut those eyes, lovely yogis. Deep breaths in, deeper breaths out. Let it go. Surrender is calling.

We get insecure, too

You might wonder whether we’re judging your practice, but have you ever thought that we question what you’re thinking of us as we teach? Yes, we sometimes feel insecure. Did my words sink in? Did they even understand what I just said? Have I got something in my teeth? Oh god. Did they just hear my stomach growling while I was giving them their shoulder massage? Did they just notice that I completely forgot one pose on the left hand side? Etc. etc. etc. Whilst it can seem that we have mysterious superpowers when we’re flying from arm balance to arm balance, the truth is that most of the time we’re acutely conscious of how our words and classes might have resonated with you.

We want you to want us

Leading on from the previous point, we really do want you to come and talk to us at the start or end of class. Whilst teaching puts us in front of a lot of different faces, sometimes it can be quite lonely as we’re leading the group, rather than taking part. So, while you may think that you need to leave as quickly as possible after class so as to not take up too much of our time, we secretly really want you to come and say hello. We love hearing your feedback, your musings, your thoughts and your questions. We’ve got so much time for you, and we want to get to know you more. Don’t be afraid, we won’t bite.

Sarah Fretwell is a yoga teacher and movement coach. Visit her website here

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