Don’t you ever wonder what goes through your yoga teacher’s mind during your practice? They see a wide variety of people class after class, all of the different shapes, sizes, ages and… smells. How closely are they paying attention to me? Can they smell my sweat? Can my neighbor smell my sweat?
You’ve got to wonder what your fellow yogis are thinking, too – “am I the only one whose legs are about to give out”? “Did anyone else have an exhausting day”? “Who else is ready for savasana”?
Truth is, a hundred different things can go through your mind during your practice, but there’s never a reason to feel insecure or nervous about what your community is thinking. While there are several reasons why you decide to show up on your mat each class, we’re all in it together — students and teachers alike.
We’ve compiled a list of 9 Q&As of common fears and curiosities most of us have during practice. Although some are silly and some are serious, remember that nobody is the “perfect yogi” – the beauty of the practice is that it’s an ongoing journey!
1. Doesn’t all of the sweat gross the teacher out?
Nobody loves the smell of a sweaty human – if we did, someone would’ve made a candle out of it by now! But, our teachers went through training fully aware that they’d be teaching a hot yoga class, and if you’re moving and working in a 90-degree space, you best believe that there will be sweat.
To your teacher, sweat is just a byproduct of doing the work. It shows that you’re putting in the effort and working hard to push your edge and discover new areas of your practice, which is the ultimate goal!
If you’re concerned about the teacher adjusting you and touching your sweat, know that they’re intentionally touching you to guide you into your greatest experience of a pose. Your teacher wants to see you test your limits and push your boundaries – and that’s what we’re here for, to lead you, and that involves both verbal and hands-on cues. (And trust us, we’ve seen and been around all levels of sweat, from dew drops to waterfalls).
2. Is anyone else’s mat as slippery as mine?
Everyone’s body sweats differently. There are numerous factors that can impact how much a person is sweating: how frequently they exercise, the level of their metabolism, the extent to which they can handle heat, what kind of clothes they’re wearing, age, gender, genetics, weight, the amount and thickness of the hair on their head… the list goes on.
If your mat is pretty slick every practice, (or you know you are just a sweaty yogi by nature – 90 degrees or not) we recommend bringing a hand towel to class to wipe your mat and your self down periodically. There are many yoga mats on the market today and not all are created equal. Look for a mat designed specifically for heated conditions (Jade and Manduka just to name a few). If you are planning on becoming a committed yogi, we highly suggest investing in a quality mat – it will last longer, perform better, and is a game changer to your practice. If you already have one and you’re still slipping, it might be beneficial to invest in a longer yoga towel that’s designed to absorb your sweat and maintain your traction.
3. Are my pants see-through?
A sometimes missed concern in the process of purchasing yoga pants. They’re stylish and they’re cute, they fit great, and then you bend over in class and there you have it – you can see straight through. It’s definitely something to consider, especially when you’re spending a lot of time in down-dog.
Our best piece of advice: the bend test. Check your bend in front of a mirror. If you see more than you like, we suggest a different pair. If a teacher notices something more drastic during class (for example, a large rip or tear), they have your back! Your teacher would never try to embarrass you, but if a more embarrassing situation could unfold, they’d let you know.
4. Is the teacher judging me for not being able to do a pose?
You may have found yourself in a situation where you’ve been a little self-conscious when the yogi next to you holds crow for all 5 breaths or forward folds all the way to their toes. Is the teacher disappointed that I can only barely bend to my knees, or that my challenge pose is holding a leg up in tree pose?
The answer: never! Your teacher is there to guide you through the practice no matter what stage you’re in or what physical ability you have. They understand that everyone is a beginner at some point, every body is built differently, and everyone’s version of a challenging pose is different. The Evolution yoga community, as a whole, prides itself in its judgment-free environment; you should never feel like you’re being compared to anyone else. All you have to worry about is listening to your body and creating a practice that works for YOU.
5. What if I don’t know or remember the Sanskrit names?
We understand that words like ujjayi, chaturanga, dandasana, and utkatasana aren’t typically normal words used in everyday conversation. It can take some time to catch on to all of the common Sanskrits that teachers say in class, and that’s completely okay.
If you don’t remember what the Sanskrit name translates to, we recommend looking around at your community and following along! The best way to learn is to just be there, and once you attend class regularly, the official asana names will become second nature to you.
6. How do I know if I’m feeling pain or discomfort?
If you’re new to yoga or to a certain pose, it can be hard to distinguish between (a) if you’re doing the pose correctly and your body’s not used to it, or (b) if you’re doing the pose incorrectly and you’re in pain. Our best advice is to listen to your body and go with your gut – if you’re truly in pain, white-hot searing pain, modify the pose or check-in on your alignment! If you’re uncomfortable, chances are you’re fine, and that’s just feeling your body do the work and doing something new. Yoga challenges the body, it’s not meant to injure you. This is why we suggest not trying a more advanced pose (for example, headstand) unless you are being guided by the teacher or are experienced.
Another option you have is to talk to your teacher before or after class. If there’s a certain pose that always bothers you, ask for advice on how you can find ease – it could be that you by nature have tight hamstrings so forward folds and certain poses just send you a lot of information. Or it could be that you are not in alignment, which is an easy adjustment.
7. Why does it seem like I’m the only person struggling?
Each person that walks into a class is at a different level of fitness and experience and has a different goal. Try not to compare yourself to the yogis around you – chances are, even if it looks like they aren’t “struggling,” they’re still being challenged. Trust us, there is at least one other person in the room having a silent struggle at some point in the practice. We’ve all been there – even if our face stays composed.
If you do feel like you’re having a really tough time in class, take the modifications! This isn’t cheating – this is building a practice from the ground up! You start small and build and grow from there. The teachers are happy to walk you through the modifications for any pose that’s uncomfortable or something you are just not ready for yet. And, as always, child’s pose can be taken at any point in time during your practice as a chance to rest and reconnect with your breath.
8. If I take a sip of water, will I look weak?
There is nothing weak about staying hydrated, especially in a hot environment. Proper hydration before and during class is very important. You are in heat, you are working, and you are sweating. And with sweat comes fluid loss. If you become so dehydrated during class that you feel faint, drink your water! We trust you to listen to your body and would rather you be safe above all else.
You can always do a self-check – “am I actually in need of water, or am I just taking a convenient moment to step out of class or out of a pose because it just happens to be a pose I struggle in and I’d rather just sit here and slowly sip some water?” 😉
9. I have a specific goal I want to accomplish in my practice. How can the teacher help me?
Your teacher is eager to help you enhance your practice to whatever capacity you dream of! All goals, big or small, are welcome and encouraged at Evolution. You can approach your teacher before or after class to ask for any advice, and you’re free to play around on your mat before the next class begins.
Depending on your goal, another opportunity would be to attend our various workshops throughout the year. Some examples of workshops we’ve held in the past include those focused on Drishit, inversions, and backbends. Check out our schedule to see if there’s an upcoming workshop that interests you!
Of course, we couldn’t cover all the questions you may be asking yourself. At Evolution, we are community-driven and want to ensure you feel comfortable and welcome in our studio and that you are in a space of continual growth and looking! Our studio staff are always here to answer any questions you have.