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chellestar83

I Am The Teacher's Pet... And I Don't Want To Be

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I practice yoga twice a week with the same instructor and group of (mainly) women.  It is an open-level class with a wide variety of experience in the room.  I typically practice in the front of the room so that I can focus on my own experience instead of staring at others, however, my yoga instructor has started using me as a model for poses.  Whenever we are doing a pose that she is not demonstrating, she says, "look at Davy, she's doing it right," or "if you want to see the full extent of the pose, look at Davy."  This is both Ego stroking (oh I'm doing it right) and Ego intimidating (don't look at me it makes me nervous).  They say you meet yourself on the mat, and in those moments I see myself the most clearly.  

 

Obviously this makes me uncomfortable; I do not want the spotlight, have never sought it out, and shy away from people after class who want to ask me questions about my practice.  However being able to face an uncomfortable situation from the safe place of my mat makes me more able to do it in the rest of my life.  So, I've taken this as a learning experience and I haven't said anything to the teacher about how it makes me feel.

 

But what is worse (in my opinion) is this constant, insidious attention, comparison, and idolization of me has created a negative atmosphere within the class.  I have experienced slightly snide remarks after/before class from a few of the girls.  Other girls put me on a pedestal and clearly feel like they need to be "as good as me".  I don't want them to compare themselves to me, ever, but especially not in a yoga class when they should be focusing on themselves.  How "good" they are at yoga, is not the point.  In fact, getting into the pose fully, is not being good at yoga.  Honoring your body, connecting with your mind, body and spirit, focusing on your breath, loving yourself: that is being "good" at yoga.  I want to be a yoga teach some day and it breaks my heart to have so many women doing such a disservice to themselves and having it be perpetuated by their teacher.

 

So my question is, what do I do?  How do I address this issue?  Quite honestly, I feel like leaving the class.  Not only for the sake of others, but also for my sake.  I don't  feel the safety that I should within the walls of a yoga studio.  But I am learning, I do gain something from the class and I understand that teachers are human and bring their own insecurities and hang-up into the studio.  So what would you do?  

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I've never taken a public class and I definitely don't know what you should do, but I'm gonna shoot my mouth off anyway.

 

My first thought is I think you'd be a phenomenal yoga teacher. You're so compassionate. You probably don't need to be reminded that you're not responsible for the way others act and think, but: you're not responsible for the way others act and think. It sucks that you don't feel safe in class, but if it's something you want to stick with maybe you could talk to the teacher privately and express how you're feeling. Hopefully she'd listen and respect your perspective and maybe things could turn around. But if not, I don't think you'd have any reason to feel guilty if you found another class where you can feel safe while you're practicing.

 

Thanks for sharing what you've been dealing with. What really struck me as someone who frequently beats himself up for being "bad" at yoga, is that even if I took a public class and got to the point where other people thought I was "good" at it, it wouldn't solve any of my problems--and could, in fact, create new ones. Your ideas about what constitutes good yoga are far sounder.

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Is this a class where people aren't particularly territorial about where they're sitting? If they're not too fussed I'd try sitting at the back. I'm always sitting at the back because I'm paranoid about my bum  :lol:  and I find if I find a point to look at which isn't on a person - say a spot on the wall - I'm not distracted at all by the other students.

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Hi Chellestar, I enjoyed reading parts of your post. It helped remind me of some of the important lessons of yoga. But it's too bad that you have this situation. May I offer some ideas that might seem contradictory.

 

You said that you wish to become a yoga teacher maybe others are getting a sense of this as well and are looking to you as such. As you know there is a long tradition in yoga of the more experienced helping guide the less experienced. It seems like a natural part of yoga for this to happen. But others in the class should not look at you as a teacher because you are not the teacher in this class. Isn't that their issue to manage and not yours? Just as you said you have learned from this experience maybe they learn as well.

 

I believe when a teacher singles out a student in the way you described, without the student's consent, that is a violation of the teacher's code of ethics. Maybe not a violation of ethics but questionable. But I wouldn't point that out to the teacher. She may not even realize she is doing this or that it is an issue.

 

What I would do is print your post and maybe all of our comments. Then ask your teacher if she has a moment after class to discuss a difficulty you are having with the class and show her what you wrote. Judging her reaction will let you know if she is a good teacher for you. Maybe give her some time consider the problem.

 

Another option is to decide the benefit of this class to you. If you feel it has high benefit, in whatever way that may be, let other people manage their practice and you manage yours.

 

Namaste

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I would honestly talk to the teacher before class and tell her your feelings. I'm sure you will no longer be singled out :)

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I would definitely send the teacher an email if possible. Just ask her at the end of class if she could pass her email on to you, as you had something you want to share with her. I think talking before or after the class will be hard and may be counterproductive. Before the class, the teacher is likely in her own thoughts with the plan of the class and whatever she's dealt with that day. There'll be other students coming in soon and you don't want them to overhear the conversation. After the class, same thing - you'll have too many students in the room still. I'm also concerned that the teacher might be really well-meaning with asking you to demo (although I really, really dislike "look at her, she's doing it 'right'"). If it's all coming from a good place, though, and you tell her how it makes you feel, there is a possibility that she'll feel attacked and instead of being compassionate and really thinking about the points you bring up, she may jump to the defense and let ego get in the way. For all these reasons, I like email. It gives her a chance to read it when she has a moment to herself. It gives her an opportunity to let the ego flare up, then let it die down, then go through the stage of emotions that come up when we're receiving feedback. I think after thinking about it for a bit, she'll be able to understand, and hopefully apologize. It also leaves a paper trail, in the off-chance you need to bring it to the head of the studio, which is my next suggestion. 

 

If, after the email, things don't improve, I might talk with the head of the studio as well (or heck, I might even cc the head of the studio in the email, because if I were running a studio I would certainly want to know if this was going on). If nothing improves after that, I would find another studio, which is a huge bummer, but I 100% understand how you're feeling uncomfortable, and in my opinion, the highest form of yoga is being in tune with your body, mind and soul, and doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. Do keep us posted!

YogiRishi, Tyra and yogafire like this

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