5 Lessons from a Bad Yoga Class

The other day, I mentioned that I went to a yoga class that wasn’t my cup of tea. I don’t think that the teacher was uneducated or inexperienced, I just know that I didn’t enjoy the form of yoga we practiced. I’m sure other people had an amazing time, but it just wasn’t for me.

The class was definitely different than a traditional Vinyasa class, so I did some research afterwards. Apparently the class I attended was Iyengar, a type of yoga with an emphasis on detail, precision and alignment. When practicing Iyengar, you’re encouraged to used various props, such as blocks, belts and blankets, to help ease yourself into the proper alignment of each pose. 

There were a few reasons why I didn’t like the class. Let’s take a quick look. 

  1. A lot of the poses were done on our knees. When I put too much pressure on certain points of my knee caps, I get a shooting pain. So obviously, I was not of fan. I used a blanket to provide some cushion and support, but even still… my knees were on fire afterwards.
  2. I don’t feel like the instructor provided modifications for some of the poses. Although I’ve been practicing yoga for years, there are so many different modifications that you can take. The possibilities are truly endless. I should have asked the instructor for some options, but I didn’t and that’s my fault. More on that later. 
  3. There was too much talking. I’m used to a vinyasa class, where the instructor talks us through the sequences but there are moments when there’s quiet and I can focus on my breath. In the Iyengar class, the poses were so complex that the instructor had to talk us through the exact position of our arms and legs in each one. It makes sense though, because Iyengar is so focused on proper alignment. 

As I was trying my hardest to get through the class, I kept thinking about writing this post. I thought to myself, “I can’t be the only person out there who was stuck in a less than stellar yoga class. I’m sure other people would love to know some tips on getting through it.” Am I right?  There are dozens of things you could do, but below are my five fool-proof tips!

1. Listen to your body

Probably the most important lesson I learned from class is to listen to your body. If you’re not feeling a certain pose, or just need to reset, it’s OK to go to child’s pose. There’s no rule in yoga that says you have to do everything that the instructor tells you to do. If you want to just lie in Shavasana during the last half of class, go for it! Listening to what your body needs at that moment is so important. 

2. Make adjustments

I didn’t make nearly enough adjustments during my recent bad yoga class, and as a result, I was in pain for hours after. Learn from my mistake. If a pose doesn’t feel right for you, if you’re having difficulty balancing, or if you just don’t want to do a pose for whatever reason … make adjustments. If you’re unsure what alternative pose you can do, ask your instructor. He/she should be able to give you some ideas on other poses to try. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in pain. If you push yourself to the point that you’re not enjoying it anymore, you’ll never want to get back on your mat! 

3. Remember to breathe

It’s sometimes easy to forget to breathe, even when the instructor is reminding you! Personally, I tend to hold my breath and clinch my muscles while trying to get into more advanced poses. Do you do this too? Your breath will actually help you get into poses, so I try my best to be mindful of my breathing. If I notice that I’m thinking too much and my breath becomes shallow, I inhale and raise my shoulders up my by ears and then exhale and press them down. It’s a small motion, but it really helps me pause and connect back to my breath. 

4. Let go of expectations

If you end up in a yoga class that you’re not enjoying, let go of any expectations you have. I know that it can be harder than it seems. I go into every class with the expectation that I’m going to feel amazing afterwards. And some classes do make me feel amazing! It’s great to be optimistic, but if you’re in class and can’t seem to root yourself and feel the benefits, let go of any expectations you had going into it. Don’t worry about what everyone else in the class is doing. Don’t think you wasting your time. Forget about all that. Yoga is a journey and a huge learning process. A bad class is going to happen every once in a while. 

5. Accept the experience

This last lesson is really short and to the point. Basically, not every single thing you’re going to do in life will bring you joy. That’s obvious. There are ups and downs in all aspects of life, including your yoga practice. The important lesson is to accept the experience and move on. 

// I hope you all enjoyed today’s post. What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned during yoga? Comment below! 

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