You know how yoga teachers are so cool and zen and bendy? It turns out those expressions of serenity are really masking inner rage at the person in the back row who won't turn their phone off.
You know what? Not all yoga is good. Ha! I said it. Just had a vertebra removed/hernia operation/six months pregnant and your doctor told you 'yoga might help?' Then this Power class is for you.
When we say 'notice any intense feelings in this pose and let them go,' we mean 'Stop looking at me like I'm Hitler.'
Don't giggle when we say 'perineum'. Think about the muscles of the pelvic floor. How would YOU describe them?
You in the back, who keeps checking your mobile phone. See the way you're jamming your arms straight, crunching your lower back and throwing your head back? You know how our mouth was moving before? We were saying 'don't do that'.
Can't do yoga because you're 'not flexible'? We admire you more than you realise just for turning up. Having said that, if you insist on contorting your body into the most advanced version of every pose 'cos that's real yoga', then send my love to your chiropractor.
Like you, our Chakras aren't always aligned. But when you've had a bad day, chances are you can hide behind your computer. When we've had a bad day we have to pray like hell to let it go before our 5.30pm class.
Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what is going on in your knee, shoulder, pinkie toe. Here's a tip, if something's really pinching - don't do it.
If we drone on about 'respecting others', it's only because the two girls catching up on gossip in the back row are giving us the shits. That or we're trying to tell the lady behind you that covering up her hastily smoked Marlboro Lights with lashings of J-Lo's Dream isn't working.
Sure, we see you as a 'whole person, beautiful in your completeness', but when you step onto the mat, we also see you as a collection of joints: in or out of alignment. So when we manually adjust your pose, we're just helping you to align, we're not trying to pinch your bum.
Wow, yes, do answer your texts during the forward bends. Did you come to yoga to just 'chill, get some me time, y'know tune in? Then start by turning off your phone.
We don't like it when you leave before Savasana, for the same reason that Jamie doesn't like you taking your lemon chicken out of the oven 10 minutes early. You're under cooked. Oh yeah, and it's really rude.
No one cares what you wear. Having said that, those leggings are more see-through than you think.
Like you, most of us can't put our foot behind our head. And yet we have the gall to call ourselves yoga teachers. Go figure.
In an average class, there'll be a depressed person, a blissed-out person, and a one-bitten-fingernail-away-from-going-postal person. Some want to sweat, others want gentle coaxing. But if think our class it's "not as good as my other teacher, Satya's" know that it's impossible to please everyone. (And Satya's real name is Karen, by the way.)
After a long week telling people to breathe in and out, there's nothing better than lying on the couch to watch a jolly good beheading on Game of Thrones.
If the class theme is 'equanimity', chances are we're trying not to take it personally that two people turned up to last night's class. Ditto 'body love', 'Patience' and 'forgiving those who've wronged us'.
'OMG, I can't believe YOU eat meat / get injuries / were found drunk in the gutter' ... that's right, we're human. Need to learn from someone perfect? Good luck with that.
The people who tell you how amaaaaazing yoga is are usually the ones who don't turn up regularly. Serious about your practice? Turn up when you're irritable as hell, then have the balls to take three deep breaths without running away.
Physical postures are just one part of yoga. There's also meditation, philosophy and a bunch of other stuff. You don't have to be spiritual, or even a nice person to try - but if you decide to take it seriously, your life will turn upside down. And it will be worth it.
Your stuff doesn't frighten us. So cry if you need to cry, be grumpy if you need to be grumpy. Heaving sobs in a hip stretch? Excellent. I myself mouthed swear words through my first five years of practice.
You look so peaceful in Savasana. You look like you really need a rest.
We will never tell you what we really think of Bikram unless we are drunk.
Alice Williams is a yoga teacher and writer. Alice-williams.com, @AliceWillalice
- Daily Life
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