What I Learned from a Bad Yoga Class

July 20, 2016

Several  years ago I went to my first yoga class. It was a free event and I thought “why not?!”  The best part was that I immediately fell in love. I was pretty pleased with myself for being able to keep up with the class, maintain correct form and if I'm being honest, proud that the teacher didn't correct my form at all. 

Fast forward a few years ago and my friend introduced me to Bad Yogi. I remember being completely enraptured by Erin’s energy and philosophy. This was yoga I could get on board with. 

Of course, my practice has wavered since then. I'm consistent and then I'm not. I can hold plank and other times I need to drop to my knees. Sometimes my feet are flat on the ground in down dog, others I just can't stick it. 

Several weeks ago I went to a free yoga class in NYC. I had been to these sessions last summer so I was excited to start going again. But if we're being honest, it was the worst class I've ever taken. 

Now, I realize that sounds anti-yogi and pretentious. Who am I to judge another teacher? Here's the thing, though, this class didn't flow at all. My body was not a fan and it immediately put a damper on my time on the mat. Even my friend that was with me was having a difficult time for the same reasons. 

I immediately realized the lack of flow made me uncomfortable. I heard myself thinking things like, “I'm not liking yoga right now”; “Why aren't we flowing like all the other classes I've taken?”; and “ugh… This isn't how we should be doing this.” 

And then I checked myself. 

I was present. I was in this park on a gorgeous summer evening with cool breezes flowing over me, the sounds of the city creating their own music, doing something that brings me peace. Showing my body, mind, and spirit the love it deserves. I was showing up. 

And that's all that mattered. 

Sometimes things don't go the way you want or hoped they'd go, but that's where the lesson is. Instead of complaining I didn't like the sequence, or just staying in child’s pose, I did what I could and kept moving forward. 

And that's the number one lesson to life. That magic trick everyone is always looking for: 

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  1. Bad yoga classes throw me off, too, but you're right- as long as you're there in the moment you are mentally achieving the goal of yoga. I actually really love hot yoga because it's challenging and I have to keep my thoughts on my mat- otherwise I'll fall over or pass out. Haha!

  2. AnonymousJuly 20, 2016

    This reminds me of two experiences I've had—one was an actual BAD yoga class, and it was pretty recent. I contemplated leaving, honestly—but as a teacher I would never do that. It was disjointed and poorly thought out, and the teacher was incredibly distracting. But I was there, I was moving my body, and I modified within reason to get some good from the day. So I totally get that view you had here!
    The other was last year sometime when a teacher I *thought* I didn't like ended up subbing my regular class. I groaned and was really disappointed at first, but ended up LOVING the class and that instructor. I let my bad attitude almost spoil a really great experience.
    The best part of yoga is sometimes the transformation it brings you to, from your less-than-perfect self to your more evolved mindset. It's a pretty cool thing to experience.

  3. the instructor definitely makes or breaks the class. i've been to other muay thai gyms where the teacher was awful and it made me so thankful for my own gym and trainer!

  4. I've really never been to an ACTUAL class so I can't say I've had any similar experiences but this does help me (and others, I'm sure) realize that when I do go to a class and don't like it, it might just be one of those days and to just enjoy what I can and then try again next time.

  5. oh that sucks you had a bad class, i can totally relate - but kudos to you for checking yourself and turning it into something positive. i really have to stop myself from complaining sometimes!