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Stop Being A Jerk To Your Substitute Yoga Teacher

Teaching Yoga | Yoga

"I am a really good yoga teacher. I put a lot of time and effort into training my students and I wouldn't want some other teacher to get involved and mess up all my hard work."

Said no yoga teacher, ever. In fact, most teachers encourage their subs to teach in their own style. The consensus among teachers is that it's a good thing for students to experience new perspectives. Unfortunately, quite a few students haven't gotten the memo.

It's a great feeling to click with a teacher. It's a relief to find a teacher who gets you, whose classes line up with what you need and want to learn. We all love our teachers and we love our routines. We look forward to our favorite classes. We know what to expect and that the class will be worthwhile. So when a sub shows up, it's easy to be disappointed. It's even easier to be a jerk about it.

What Not To Do When Your Class is Subbed

  • Leave. Do I really need to explain this one?
  • Dramatically express your disappointment. Of course you may want to ask if the regular teacher is okay, or when they plan to be back. Being a drama queen about it is a pretty effective way to disrespect the teacher who's taken time out of their day to fill in.
  • Assume a new teacher has nothing to offer. Less experienced teachers may be a little shaky, but teacher training is fresh in their minds. Appreciate their enthusiasm and energy.
  • Insist that you have your own special way of doing things. If you're working a special blend of Warrior I hips and Warrior II feet, you're not trailblazing. You're jacking up your knee. Accept adjustments and corrections with grace.

What To Do When Your Class Is Subbed

  • Listen. The sequence or transitions may be a little different than what you're used to. If you assume you know what's coming next, you might be wrong. Also, subs can offer new ways to think about alignment. Take advantage of a new perspective.
  • Be friendly. Subbing can be stressful, especially if it's a last-minute arrangement or a student slipped out the back door when they heard the word "sub." Kindness from students will give the teacher confidence, which leads to a better experience for everyone.
  • Remind yourself of the fifth yama, aparigraha (non-attachment). The class won't be what you thought it would. Let it go. Embrace the new teacher and the class they've planned.

Non-attachment is an essential yoga lesson. The next time you're unexpectedly practicing with a new teacher, let go of your expectations and take in what the sub has to offer. Then you'll really be practicing yoga.

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