“I only do Vinyasa…”
These were the words I received upon announcing that I was covering a yoga teachers regular class at a local gym, from a member I had never met until that moment. I have only just started freelancing at local gym’s, so this means I often go into new class environments, blind to the style or pace that the class has previously been taught. They aren’t always listed on the schedule as Vinyasa, so unless specified I teach a gentle Kripalu yoga class.
Totally her choice, we all favour a style, I grant her that. What hurt my feelings, was the tone in which it was delivered to me. That my Kripalu class was presumed to be beneath her due to it not being a Vinyasa. Here I was, tired from long hours at my day job, trying to be the perky cover teacher who received a desperate phone call from the staff approximately four hours prior to this exact moment, anxious to find cover for a class to avoid cancelling. What also saddened me a little, is how this member cut herself off from exploring all the other magical and beautiful styles that the yoga practise has to offer. She sat in my class, looking slightly irritated when there wasn’t a Chaturanga in site and pointedly asked me if the other teacher was back the following week. Ouch.
I am happy to admit I am not everyone’s teacher, we all have a favourite teacher and many of us are creatures of habit, but I would like to think I give every teacher a fair chance the first time I take their class. What’s to say if I taught her a Vinyasa class, she would have enjoyed that any more than my gentle Kripalu yoga?
At this point in my teaching career, I don’t teach Vinyasa. Vinyasa is something I keep purely for myself to practise, for multiple reasons that I won’t go into now, however I am unsure as to when Vinyasa Flow somehow reigned supreme over all the other styles of yoga. I have spoken to a few of my fellow yoga teachers about this, that Vinyasa Flow, Vinyasa Ashtanga and Power Yoga seem to the “in” thing and have also been met with the same negativity when they don’t teach any of the above, limiting teaching opportunities and their ability to spread the love of yoga.
My advice to anyone who partakes in practicing yoga, don’t shut yourself off from all the amazing styles and teaches you have been granted the opportunity to work with. You can have a favourite style, but try not to see it as superior. Just because you can float from Handstand to Bakasana and jump back to Chaturanga, does not make you any better than the yogi next to you who can barely touch the floor in a forward fold.
My advice to anyone teaching yoga, play to your strengths. Just because a class is used to a flow, switching it up, taking the pace down, may open their minds to adding a slower class into their practise. Just as I have received animosity about not teaching a Vinyasa, I have also had some lovely compliments and amazing feedback from people who had never taken a slower class and found it nourishing for their body and soul. Don’t let anyone allow you to question how you teach.
I would love to know if any teachers or yoga students have experienced anything like this, so please don’t hesitate to drop me a message!