Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yogi Fail

I had a first (for me) last night - I walked out of a yoga class. 

A couple of months ago, I bought a Groupon for a studio close to my office called OnlYoga. I stupidly believed that I would just hop over for a quick vinyasa flow at lunchtime. When will I learn?! Anyway, that's beside the point. I went to my first class 8ish weeks ago, and enjoyed it. It was a 7am class, there were only 2 of us, and the instructor was okay. She pushed me, and some of the things she said made me pretty uncomfortable at the time, but all in all I felt like it was a good class and that I'd go back.

A coworker bought the same Groupon and asked me to join her for a hot yoga class last night. Now, shame on me for not reading the details about the class and instead just happily agreeing to go. I don't know that I would have changed my mind, but in fairness to me, I did think I was going to what I think of as typical hot yoga, which includes a really hot room and a bunch of asanas. I can do that. I am comfortable with that, and comfortable with pushing myself within that type of class (especially 5 days before my half marathon!!!)

So, we get ourselves situated in the studio and when class starts, it's kicked off with a chant. First sign that I am in over my head: I'm the only person in the room who doesn't know the 2 minute long chant. Next I'm expecting 10 minutes of breathing. Nope, we head straight into sun salutations and chaturungas. And they move really fast. And next thing I know I'm glancing furtively around the room trying to look like I know what I'm doing and everyone else is in a twisted backbend. After a similar flow for the second and third time, I decided I'd had enough. The class was way over my head and I was miserable. While the group was in downward-facing dog, I quietly grabbed my mat and water bottle and scooted to the back of the room.

The teaching assistant stopped me and asked if I was okay, I told her how I was feeling, and she encouraged me not to leave but said she understood. I liked and appreciated her concern, but felt pretty strongly about packing up and leaving. Then the instructor came over, so I explained the same thing to him, and he put his arms around me and said he wished I would stay. 

The final straw for me was when he announced loudly to the class, "Raise your hand if this class is extremely challenging for you!" 2 people raised their hands, which obviously wasn't enough for him, because he said "OK, raise your hand if this class has been pretty challenging for you" at which point a few more folks raised their hands. It's been a while since I have been so embarrassed, to the point that I thought I was going to burst into tears. This was MY yoga practice, I felt uncomfortable, and the instructor was humiliating me in front of the entire room full of people. I am not a yoga newbie. I spent a week at a resort doing yoga 2-3 times a day and talking about it even more frequently. I've had monthly memberships to yoga studios, and so while I am no expert, I am not new to this either. And the thing I love most about yoga is that whatever you want to do is okay. So while I was fine with the instructor urging me to stay, I was completely shocked at how he called me out in front of the entire group. 

Now, some of you might say, as a friend of mine did, that I shouldn't have left, and normally I would agree. In this case, however, the room was really crowded, so they actually could use the space I was taking up, and I was so uncomfortable just sitting on my mat, I didn't feel like I could stay. When I decided to leave, I also decided that I'd go home, go for a short run, and do an at-home yoga session instead. I wasn't giving up completely, I was just throwing in the towel on that particular class. 

I'm planning to call the studio today and voice my concerns. It wasn't the first time I was made to feel uncomfortable there, and despite having 8 classes left as part of my Groupon, I won't be returning. There are so many wonderful studios I've been to, there's just no reason to continue going somewhere that I felt out of place and uncomfortable. 

Have you had poor experiences at a yoga studio? Every studio is not for every person, and I'm comfortable with that!

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