When yoga increases stress: about the teacher

Yoga is generally sold online and off as a great stress reliever. I can vouch for that: with the right teacher, yoga can be very healthy emotionally. I’ve often come away from a yoga class with a great big smile on my face that was certainly not there before.

However, last week when I was preparing for be my first serious theosophical lecture, and stressing out – and managing my stress – I decided NOT to go to yoga class. Instead I stayed at home, made what physical preparations were to be made and read a book. I avoided yoga class because my teacher is, aside from very good at guiding us through our bodies, a bit emotionally needy.

She makes a big deal about people not coming, about people not drinking tea afterwards, about students not showing up without telling her in advance that they’re not showing up. Paradoxically that was the very reason why I did not come, and I decided so late not to go that I also didn’t phone to let her know.

I did not go because I knew that her emotional neediness, her lack of detachment, was going to increase my stress level if I did go.

I guess that’s why detachment is so important in a spiritual teacher.

5 thoughts on “When yoga increases stress: about the teacher”

  1. “I did not go because I knew that her emotional neediness, her lack of detachment, was going to increase my stress level if I did go.

    I guess that’s why detachment is so important in a spiritual teacher.”

    Good point! That was a great illustration of why detachment is so important, something I never really considered before.

  2. Great example! The same is true for therapists – as a client you really need to feel they can safely ‘contain’ anything – so they will not be offended personally when their clients are expressing ‘not so nice’ feelings like anger, grief and such. To be ‘unconditionally present’.

  3. I am so glad to hear you say the truth about your yoga teacher. In general yoga is very, very controlling. Not only does your teacher tell you what you need to do and how…your brain tells your body how to posture. To achieve emotional health you have to let go of control and let your vital energy flow freely.

  4. On the other hand… I’ve had a yoga teacher who was so detached he could not pronounce the words of instruction clearly and may have not brushed his teeth for several months, maybe years.

    Detached but cognizant, even involved and emotionally participating, unmoved by the movement. Detachment is the real time recognition “this is not I, that is not I.” At the point of the purest detached state of awareness even I isn’t, All is.

    I “stumbled” upon your blog the very day I began my own I am certain, to help me keep myself and my offering in perspective. “Don’t take yourself to seriously Michael. There is nothing new under the sun.”

  5. I think, in general, that this is a very decent yoga teacher. She gave me the first of the tips for mindfullness that has brought many of you here (more than 7000 visitors on one day). However, last Friday, due to my own issues, she was not what I needed.

    I agree there’s a balance to detachment: too much or the wrong kind and it becomes indifference. Not enough and you get, perhaps, clingy and controlling.

    We’re all somewhere on that scale, with other psychological variables mixed in: it’s the human condition.

    In general, doris, for a desk worker like me, yoga is very good. It may be a way to control the body, but after days of sitting in one position most of the time, getting into weird poses is a real good way to wind down. Like I said: most of the time I get out of that class with a big smile on my face. Certainly better than trying to fall asleep after a day of sitting in front of a screen and the body underused.

    There’s a balance between stretching and straining that is is hard to find. This teacher tries to go slow, to avoid overstraining us. She has a good combination of postures and movement that works for me. That she also has a few personal defects won’t stop me from taking her class tomorrow.

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