10 ways you're really annoying your yoga teacher and classmates

Awakening Your Inner Child with Yoga
Awakening Your Inner Child with Yoga

I love yoga. I have been practicing for over 15 years and honestly, I don't miss my days of spinning, rock climbing, boxing and partaking in other exercises du jour for a single minute. Here's the thing about yoga, though: There are certain activities that occur during some of my classes that bother me; I guess you could call them my "pet peeves." Mind you, I'm not a yoga teacher, and some of you may even think it's not very Zen of me to even have pet peeves during a yoga class. But I do. They include when:

1. You don't make room for someone else's mat. You don't own any real estate in a yoga class, so when you see someone coming close to your mat, make room – especially if the class is crowded. Please don't roll your eyes or make me feel like I'm bothering you because honestly, the only space you need is the size of your mat.

2. You think you're too good for props. Like I said above, I am not a yoga teacher, but I consider myself an advanced practitioner. And guess what? I use props. Instead of twisting in ways that make your body unhappy, take advantage of tools that are there to help you. It doesn't mean you're a beginner (even if you are) – it shows you are mindful.

3. You jump into headstand. First, you could really hurt yourself. And besides, it's very distracting to those of us who are using our core strength to get into the pose correctly. Your teachers should be telling you this; however, not all do. (I guess that's another pet peeve.)

OK, so enough with my pet peeves. Here's what some of my teachers say irks them the most:

4. You keep your phone on the mat.
"Your phone should not be with you on your mat, unless you are a doctor or have childcare or health concerns. When I walk in to teach a class at a gym, as many as half the students are on their phones,hunched over and transfixed until class begins – or until I remind them that class has begun. I try to make it light by asking the class to refrain from texting, as it is distracting to others and it makes them more desirable to be unavailable for an hour."
– Mary Dana Abbott, yoga teacher and writer in New York City

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5. You gush about another teacher.
"At this point in my teaching, I don't take anything personally. But I will admit that one of my pet peeves is when a student takes my class and then raves on and on about some other teacher and what a great class he or she teaches – without complimenting me on my teaching at all!"
– Jessica Bellofatto, founder and director of JBYoga and KamaDeva Yoga in East Hampton, New York

6. You don't check your ego at the door.
"The most troubling issue I see in a class is when students choose a variation that nourishes their egos more than their bodies. More often than not, people are better served to choose a less intense variation that allows for truer alignment. The 'hardest' version of an asana is not always the best!"
– Meg Carlough Kudrik, partner/director of special programs at House of Jai Yoga in New York City

7. You're close-minded.
"I think my biggest pet peeve is an unwillingness to try something different. I respect everyone's approach to yoga, and obviously there are legitimate reasons to practice something different from the rest of the class, but it's hard not to get frustrated when a student disregards what I'm offering in lieu of practicing what he or she already knows. Coming to class is an opportunity to learn, and we gain a much clearer understanding of our practice when we look at it from all angles. It's not about what we like or dislike; it's what we could potentially learn from exploring something different."
– Chrissy Carter, yoga teacher and teacher trainer at Yoga Works in New York City

8. You do your own thing.
"I truly believe that a yoga sequence can be like recipe. You can't just throw all of the ingredients in bowl, pop it in the oven and expect a great result, right? So when students come to class and begin "doing their own thing" – or not following what the rest of the class is doing – it's not only concerning and unsafe, but it also drives me crazy! I am totally in favor of modifications and variations within the context of the practice. However, it can be distracting and downright dangerous if students don't follow the general sequence being taught."
– Jamie Lugo, yoga teacher at Yoga Shanti & Sky Ting Yoga in New York City

9. You don't check in.
"I am always frustrated by students who don't check in with me at the front desk before class. Before they put their mats down, I wish they would make sure I know they're here. And, unless they are 100-percent sure I know who they are, I wish they would say their names. This helps me learn everyone's name in my class."
– Geoffrey Nimmer, yoga teacher and organic landscape designer in East Hampton, New York

10. You compare yourself to others.
"A pet peeve (and also a disappointment) of mine is when students come out of a pose to look around the room and compare themselves to someone else after being instructed what to work on based on their level that day. It's one thing to be inspired by others in the class, which is what is so special about group classes, but it's another thing entirely to stop and give up to watch someone else practice as if he or she were a show on Netflix. The beauty of yoga is the dozens of variations and modifications for the poses, no matter the age, injury, ailment or body type."
– Giulia Pline, yoga teacher at House of Jai, Kula Yoga Project and Unity Yoga in New York City

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