The Question: I am a teacher and have a very flowing Vinyasa class. I have a student that basically ignores what I'm teaching and does her own thing. I've thought about saying something to her, but then wonder if I should just look at it as a lesson in tolerance. Do you have any advice? Kerry
Yes, I have certainly experienced this issue firsthand and it is in fact a tricky one. There are a few factors to keep in mind.
Figure out if this student is distracting the others in class. It’s one thing if she is distracting you (which is also a problem), but when she starts to detract from other students’ positive experience is when she needs to be talked to.
Oftentimes, students who kind of veer off the path the teacher sets out aren’t doing it in an intentionally rude way. This yogi in particular might not even be aware that her actions are being noticed.
My biggest suggestion would be to encourage her to find a home practice. Explain to her that it may be beneficial to come to class, do the sequences as instructed, and then take the parts of the classes she loves into her own practice elsewhere. If this wasn’t an ongoing problem, I would assure you that you didn’t have to worry, but it seems like this student is looking to grow her practice in some way, and is using your class to do it.
If you’re a student who tends to divert from the teacher’s flow (and especially if you’re not doing it out of disobedience or spite), let your instructor know that you’re feeling a certain way in your body and may end up holding things for longer or performing different postures. Usually, he or she won’t have a problem with you listening to your body and doing what feels great.
On the other hand, following a teacher’s sequence to the T (especially if he or she is teaching postures you dislike) is a really important thing to do. Instructors spend hundreds of hours learning how to create safe and effective classes that you’ll be able to take a lot from.