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What Makes a Yoga Class Bad? (Or, Namastay Out of These Yoga Classes!)

October 19, 2015

What Makes a Yoga Class Bad? (Or, Namastay Out of These Yoga Classes!)

(Image via Tony and Debbie on Flickr; design by Molly Hurford)
(Image via Tony and Debbie on Flickr; design by Molly Hurford)

I love yoga when I’m traveling (which is a lot): I try to find a new studio in each town I go to, when I’m jumping between places week to week. I find it’s a nice habit to get into, and it makes me feel really centered and calm afterwards—even better if I can sneak in a run to and from the studio! Most of the time, it’s a win. Even in classes that are just ‘meh,’ I walk away feeling good, and a lot of the time, the classes are actually amazing and I walk away feeling super energized and pumped.

I’ve been to excellent hot yoga classes lately, plus ones that really focused on one challenging pose during the class and worked with each student to find where they were in the pose. I’ve been to great fitness yoga and great spiritual yoga. But recently, I went to a particularly crappy yoga class in a city that shall remain nameless, and it made me think about things to look for in a class before you commit to doing it… and a couple things that, to me at least, mean you shouldn’t go back.

Class doesn’t start on time. This is a big one for me because then it means the class either runs late and messes with my schedule or it’s cut short and I feel ripped off. Either way, a late class is kind of sloppy to me.

Studio isn’t clean. This is huge. The studio I went to last was a little crummy looking and had dust everywhere. That’s already not great, but the worst came when I was leaving the class and went to grab my sneakers and a cockroach sidled out of my sneaker. Eek. Also, yuck.

Mats aren’t clean. Again, HUGE. The studio in question here was already kind of dirty, but it got worse when I unrolled a mat only to realize it was still kind of sticky. And after the class, despite barely walking on the studio floors, my feet were nearly black.

Teacher is distracted. This is a bit of a personal rant, so apologies. But the class that I went to that was truly sub par was largely due to the fact that it was a class mostly comprised of teachers in training, so the teacher spent most of the class instructing people how they would teach a pose. I totally understand yoga training and I’d love to do it at some point myself, but I feel like it should have been noted on the schedule so normal people could skip the class,or normal people just wanting a yoga class should have gotten some kind of discount. As it was, it was distracting, the class felt disjointed, and having the women next to me taking notes during the whole class really, really threw me off.

Teacher is focused on one person. This could be the ‘worst’ or ‘best’ in the class (I know in yoga there is no good or bad, but come on, we all know better than that). I get that some people need more help, or that a teacher might want to help that woman finally perfect the handstand (typically this happens when NO ONE else is doing inversions), but at the same time, as a middle-of-the-road yoga student, I find that often in classes (even some of the great ones I’ve been to), I tend to get ignored because I’m not SO bad that I need to be corrected for fear of me dislocating myself, but nor am I good enough that I warrant that last nudge into yoga greatness. I’m fine with individual help, but it’s a pet peeve when an instructor zeroes in on a couple people and ignores the rest.

Pushy teachers. This is the flip side to disinterested ones: the teacher that wants you to nail that pose so she’s pushing you into positions your body just isn’t ready for. I’m all about that little nudge, but I’ve definitely had teachers push me so hard that I actually pulled a muscle. Push, don’t force.

No water in hot yoga. This is a whiny one, I admit, but it drives me nuts when I’m in a hot yoga class that has no water or water fountain in or outside the room. Not everyone remembers a water bottle (ahem, me, especially when running), so having some hydration would be swell.

Temperature is lower/higher than promised. I love hot yoga. But when I don’t love is when a normal yoga class is 90 degrees, or a hot yoga class is only 75 degrees. I dress for the class I expect, and since I’m running to the studio, I don’t have a lot of extra clothes. I’ve run to classes billed as standard yoga when it’s 40 degrees out, so wearing leggings, sleeveless tshirt and hoodie, only to find that it’s actually going to be heated today, so it’s 95 degrees in the room and I sweat through my leggings, and then have to run, drenched in sweat, home. Not great. On the flip side, I’ve been ready to really sweat it out in hot yoga only to go into a lukewarm room.

Wow. Ranting about yoga feels really weird. I know it’s all about taking things as they come and being zen and at peace, but wow, I really get annoyed with yoga sometimes!

What about you guys—what’s the worst yoga experience you’ve had?


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4 comments
  1. I had some class where a guy was shirtless, front and center (not hot yoga!). Several people were practicing some sort of kick that was like trying to get into headstand but not really. Jack Johnson for the whole sesh. So weird. But mainly reading this makes me realize how lucky I've been to only have 2 bad classes in 3 years.

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