I’m a yoga teacher, a full-timer.
Teaching yoga is an easy gig. It’s a pleasure for both instructor and pupil because we all find nourishment in time we spend on our mats no matter how different we are. Asana is a powerful equalizer. I love the physical practice and the comforting rituals like weird chanting, vinyasa and tying my hair up in a samurai ponytail like I’m going into battle.
It fulfills me and inspires me to see my students become stronger and happier, flow by flow. Teaching yoga is manual labor and for me, it’s a labor of love. I’m from a working class family and this feels like a working class profession, like farming, nursing or baking. We are growing. We are healing. We are providing.
I cannot stop myself from practicing seven days a week. I feel an irresistible pull to learn from my teachers. Their words ring in my ears long after I roll up my stanky ‘Duka and go home. Some of these words and new ideas are fresh and vibrant. Others are stale.
Let’s strike a deal, fellow yoga instructors. I’ll never ask you to ‘stretch’ or ‘let go’ if you’ll kindly archive some of your own golden oldies:
1. Sits bones or sitz bones or sit bones.
Ischial tuberosities sounds way cooler. When I get to class, I’m ready to receive. I’m eager to study what you have to offer. You don’t need to dumb it down. Give me the anatomical terms, sugar. I know you’ve studied them. Your knowledge is a turn on.
I cringe at myself for saying it. The mouth-full is so heavy. Darth Vader called, he wants his breath back, CYT / RYT. The force is not witchu’. Remember Gmork, the big black wolf character from The NeverEnding Story? He gets a gold star for fogging up the mirror.
You should see my uddiyana bandha.
3. The lovely so-and-so will be subbing my class.
When a yoga teacher calls the sub lovely, beautiful or delightful (puke), it means they may, subconsciously or not, want the stand in to sound fluffy, not skilled and well, sub-par. Women in particular, do this to each other.
Have you taken your sub’s class lately? You should. That way, you might have something specific and solid to say about his or her teaching. If you leave your students with a sub who you think is inadequate or merely ‘lovely’ you are doing them a disservice. Don’t sell out, pretty pony.
If I’m subbing for your class, please call me dangerous, creepy or say I’m a close-talker who gives inappropriately familiar assists. Trust me, yer’ numbers will go up. In turn, when you sub for me I will call you the captain of crunch, the supreme queen of grilled cheese and confess that you are indeed harder, better, faster, stronger than Ms. Pac-Man. If that isn’t enough I will let the world know that you are a unicorn. The uterus in me bows to the uterus in you. I think we’ve reached an understanding.
Let’s not belabor ‘the breath.’ It’s implied that I am using my lungs. Yoga teacher, if you tell me to ‘just breathe’ as if it will solve the world’s problems I will eat you in your sleep.
This phrase is one tired, broke ass hooker. Put ‘er to bed. It was clever at first. I felt like I belonged to an exclusive club. ‘See you in the hot room.’ No, I’ll see you in hell before I ever say that shit again.
Let’s call it the free cheeseburger machine, the bad place (like where your underwear go after spending too much time in rabbit pose), or how about your mom’s hot room?
I’m sorry that you’re vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, and lager-free. Meatballs and cake are yummy, GD locust pose ain’t. Describing a challenging posture as yummy will not make it sound more accessible to me.
Could you tell me how it makes you feel? That will entice me to try it. Yoga is a sensual practice. I see it, I feel it, I hear it, I sure as shootin’ smell it, but I don’t know if I want to taste it. Savor it, maybe. Why is it always the scrawniest teachers who want you to believe yoga is yummy?
7. Low boat
Because I hate that it’s really hard. If you’re going to make me suffer through this rosy posy, could you at least tell me I’m on a mothafu%$in’ boat, please? Since we’re out at sea, I’ll gently make my next point:
8. Ocean Breath
Smells like fish poo and oil spill. Makes me think of the Titanic, and then Celine Dion. It’s a cry for help. Don’t say it. When ‘Ocean Breath’ comes out of my mouth to describe how to explore a fuller lung capacity, it makes my teeth itch. There’s got to be a better way. Tornado breath? Breath of eruption? S.O.S.
9. Walk the dog
Bring one of those blue poopie bags with you too. No, merci.
Can we call it rabid dog? And get all freaky with it? Please? I know our American culture is very dog happy and that’s charming, but I don’t want to actually feel like I am a dog taking myself for a walk. Woof.
10. Back issues, neck issues, knee issues, sphincter issues.
If you think I have back issues, let’s talk about your daddy issues, pal. Just offer up the modifications, ok? I don’t wanna cry (again) in savasana and I don’t need anyone to remind me of my issues, yogster. Issues don’t sound sexy. And why am I here if not to feel sexy and issue-free?
I just like wearing leg warmers. Don’t be fooled. I’m not here to work out like it’s 1986, goofball. Workout is the cheapest word we could use to describe yoga. I put too much value on my practice to label it a workout.
The body I have, the unconventionally rockin’ and healthfully rounded body I will live in the rest of my life, is reliable and strong. It allows me to engage in a vigorous yoga practice every day and rarely does it tire or fail. There’s nothing to work out.
I’m taking your class to see what light and possibility I might work up or work in, thank you. If you tell me you’re going to work me out, I’ll show you pics of how I worked your sister out.
12. Problem area
Just think of me as Christopher Walken, meet your new guru. Would you offer to help Christopher Walken sculpt his problem areas? Bitch, please. Christopher Walken would cut you. Lock the knee!
I will just sniffle and awkwardly pull my pungent tank top down over my muffin pudge, or as you so succinctly put it, my problem area. Pictured left is Mr. Walken, age 22, and that is what my core looks like under my 35 year old mother of two problem area.
13. Kick asana
As in ‘come to my kick asana acro vin yin cheesy poof workshop to have your chakras imploded.’ You don’t have to market your class to me with little gems like that. I already like your class.
You are a good and capable teacher. You kinda’ remind me of my little brother. Maybe you could come over and eat Captain Crunch with me. We could watch Thundercats. You don’t need a yoga fad or a gimmick to attract me to your teaching. I paid the drop-in fee. You are enough.
When I come to you, I want to experience your teaching. You don’t have to use the same ol’ verbiage you’ve heard repeatedly in the yoga teacher canon to get me to believe you. Tell me exactly why you’re teaching me a pose, what it strengthens or opens, and how I might practice it off the mat.
You don’t have to sell me yoga with promises that it will detoxify me, get me in a bikini or change me. I don’t want to feel like I’m in the grocery store checkout line. Give me warmth, comfort, and your take on the ancient practice of yoga that you know and love. That’s plenty.
About the Author:
Hally Marlino is a blue collar mama from Madison, WI. She’s a former U.S. Army trained combat medic, a former actor with a BA in Theatre Performance from UW-La Crosse and a former yoga skeptic. When she’s not teaching freestyle vinyasa around the isthmus, you’ll find her bike-riding and beer-appreciating with her family. Hally is exactly half ballerina and half wrestler, but her yoga classes are totally legit. She promises. Find her at yoga-beast.com.