When You Teach, It's YOUR Room.

I think a lot of Bikram teachers - and yoga teachers in general - forget that when they teach, the room is theirs.

  • The condition of the room.
  • The energy of the room.
  • The heat/cooling of the room.
  • The cleanliness of the mirrors.
  • The yoga mats hanging on the bars in the back of the room.
  • The wet spots still standing from the previous class.
  • The discipline encouragement for the students.
  • The spacing between the yoga mats.
  • Whether students stand perfectly on the lines running through the carpet.

Sure, we have "work study" students who get free yoga to help take care of the studio before and after class. But regardless, the teachers owns the room for the 90 minutes they are on the podium. And whatever they say goes. And however they allow the room to be presented and flow, that's their responsibility too.

Don't get me wrong... Both studio franchises I practice in between Boston and Toronto are extremely clean. There's never been any issues with them. So the "cleanliness" factor is not what I am really talking about with this post.

No, this is more about the teachers owning their class and calling the shots.

As a teacher practicing in class, I have had to work hard to block out distractions from students that I would normally correct or even be in awe of while teaching. Even though I am in Standing Bow, balancing, you better believe I notice it when a student next to me is grabbing their foot wrong... Or - on the flip side - when they are kicking out so beautifully into standing splits after just a few months and I am NINE YEARS into my practice and still struggling.

But lately I've gotten better about blocking that all out, because when I practice, I'm not there to notice those things. It's MY time, and MY practice I should be concerned with... And everything else is of no matter.

It's for the teacher to be concerned.

And I love and greatly respect teachers who lay down the law in their classes. Especially before class even begins. And tonight's class was just such a class.

Right from the start, the teacher (who has been teaching for many years) came in and said, "Well gang. You almost had a celebrity in class with you. (ACTOR'S NAME) just came in and wanted to squeeze in with you. But he needed to leave 15 minutes early. I told him that it's a 90-minute class, and that wouldn't be okay. He understood."


This is not an actor I would ever expect to see in a Bikram yoga class. And had I been teaching - and could have gotten away with it - I would have totally caved to the actor. I would have said, "Sure! You can leave early. It's against studio policy. But it's cool!"

For the record: It wouldn't have been cool with any of the studio owners. It would have been against the safety of the student. Teachers are supposed to leave the room before any students, to make sure they walk out of the room safely.

I think there are a few Bikram teachers who would have caved. Or maybe not. But regardless, it's the teacher's room. And in there is where they get to lead the class. And I love it when teachers own it!

Don't let the students lead you! Don't let other teachers in the room try to lead you either (after you've taught for a while and are comfortable)! It's YOUR room.

Reminds me of when I had been teaching a few months two years ago... Another teacher who had gone to training the year before me came up to me and said...

"You need to be more of a bitch in class."

I didn't understand where they were coming from with the comment. No students had left. The class had great energy. People were walking out of the room happy - it seemed.

Well, apparently this teacher wasn't happy with that. They liked students coming out of the room looking crucified. They didn't think students were getting their money's worth if they weren't a little miserable from the experience and grateful that class was over. This teacher felt that I should have held the postures longer and not been so "happy" with the dialogue.

I told them, "That's how you teach class. That's not how I teach class. I teach dialogue. I educate students about the postures. And I do it with a fucking smile on my face the entire time. Fuck off if you don't like it. Is that bitchy enough for you?"

Now, this person is also a friend. So it was said with great sass and humor. But I'll be damned if anyone is going to tell me how to teach a class.

Provided you aren't breaking any studio policies, students and owners appreciate the diversity in teaching energy.