Five things a yoga instructor should never say in class

Vanessa Roberts talks about things yoga teachers should never

Uh…did they really just say that?

by guest author Vanessa Roberts, Carry On Diet

I love me some yoga, and have loved it (albeit sometimes a little inconsistently) for a good solid ten years.

While I always seem to learn something new – a new posture, technique or way to relax into my poses – I have also been privy to some cringe-inducing, nose-scrunching phrases muttered by an instructor (or five) of mine.

Though most of them can be shrugged off with a simple “ew”, others have left me questioning my instructor’s reasons and shaking my head in bewilderment.

Curious to know what said phrases are? Read on, yogis.

Five phrases that should never leave a yoga instructor’s mouth…ever again

Today we’re going to work on letting go…something I have been trying to work on since my boyfriend left me last month.

Is it just me or is this not awwwkward?

I mean, I’m all for venting with your girlfriends over a glass *cough * bottle *cough * of wine, but I firmly believe that a yoga class is not the place to rant about your personal problems.

After all, each of us are in that class attempting to better ourselves, clean and clear our minds and ultimately, move deeper into our poses; not to commiserate over lost love.

Besides, isn’t yoga all about focusing on the positive and letting go of our ego?

If so, then there should be no reason for a teacher to try and illicit sympathy from their students.

Remember, a yoga class is not about the instructor’s personal life, it’s about helping students progress.

Let’s melt away the holiday fat with a 2 minute plank!

“Two minutes?”

That was my audible reaction to my teacher demanding we all hold our quivering bodies strong for a straight 120 seconds.

It just seemed a little torturous for a class that is not supposed to be about the superficial appearance of our bodies or rapid weight loss.

Yet I held my position, shook like a flimsy leaf and silently reprimanded myself for bathing my mashed potatoes (and meat…and yorkshire pudding) in a sea of gravy.

And not only did I curse every second of that one hundred and twenty seconds but my time with that instructor was short-lived after that class.

Especially after she demanded…

Suck in your belly!

Excuse me? How embarrassing.

Now maybe it’s just me but the last thing I want to be reminded of when I’m in my happy place (a.k.a. my yoga class) is that I may or may not have a belly to suck in.

Not to mention the fact that I noticed women looking around the class with a look of defeat in their eyes.

Instead of calling upon a common insecurity that many of us women have and reinforcing negative body issues, it is the instructor’s job to make us all feel comfortable.

After all, we’re in yoga, not bootcamp!

Don’t quit, Vanessa! Hold your pose!

Woah woah woah! Did she just single me out by name? Yikes!

While I’m sure she had the nicest of intentions, calling out a particular student in your class is a big-time no-no.

Not only will you make them feel sheepish but you take a cut at their confidence levels by announcing to the rest of the class that someone’s abilities may not be as advanced as others.

Realize that no instructor worth her weight should ever call out a student who may be trying to advance, but at their own pace.

Yoga class is not a place for judgments; and if you really must say something, please walk over to that student and try to help them instead.

Who is menstruating today? Okay, this pose is not for you. You may take Child’s Pose.

Bleh! This might be my least favourite thing to hear during a zenned-out yoga class.

I mean, who says that in a class full of both men and women?

Well, to answer that: My old yoga instructor. Nearly. Every. Class!

Though I understand the reasoning – inversions are not optimal when menstruating – it is downright distressing having to announce that you are surfing the crimson wave to a class full of near strangers.

Instead, offer a few different options to those who may not be fit for inversions that particular week. That way they can silently move into their adjusted pose without having to announce to the class that they are out of commission for the week.

Besides, the only reason your student’s cheeks should be rosy is because you led a challenging class, not because you humiliated them in front of a group.

What is the most embarrassing and oh-my-gosh-did-she-really-just-say-that phrase you have ever heard leave an instructor’s lips?

Share your stories in the comment section below and let’s all have a giggle!

More about Vanessa Roberts:

Vanessa Roberts of Carry On DietV is the cheeky creator of where she blogs and vlogs on how to stay healthy while travelling.

From an easy-to-make protein pancakes recipe to short-burst workouts you can take with you anywhere, her goal is to help fellow globetrotters looks as good as they feel while wandering the world. Hit her up on Facebook or shoot her a tweet but be warned, she’s a talker!


  1. Elise says

    I once got “Hey you! Pink shirt! Sit lower!” in chair pose. At least the instructor remembered your name when she called you out, hah! 😀

    • says

      LOL “pink shirt”! Who says that? That’s so impersonal. I always wonder what the heck they’re thinking when they do these kinda things :)

  2. Hayley says

    I have recently been to a new yoga class, which was different but great. However, I came to the conclusion the instructor was an ex-cheerleader as the word ‘spirit fingers’ was used about 8 times. I started cringing after the 3rd ‘spirit fingers’ request. Haha.

  3. maggie says

    mind you mid class pushing deeper into a back-bend, it seemed to sound totally normal and encouraging… coming out’ve class later.. not so normal…. HAHAHA love that teacher tho!

  4. Yana says

    Haha, yes some of these would be pretty jarring. However, I’m surprised that someone writing for a yoga blog would be embarrassed to have their period being mentioned in public. I was under the impression that dedicated yoga women would be more confident about their bodies and not inhibited about their fertility. Period awkwardness is a bit of a teenage hang-up.

  5. chaquita says

    most of these are complete shockers, but i’d like to point out that the first one COUld just be an attempt at sharing with the intention of noting that we ALL have our issues in life & sometimes i’ve found if a yoga teacher shares some ‘failing’ it helps me to see that my failings are normal & ‘even the yoga teacher’ (!!) has problems… it’s that thing of ‘we’re all human’ – and she may very well not have been asking for sympathy?

  6. says

    The article has some good points which someone who’s doing yoga might have encountered them but does not want to talk about them or is looking for the right moment but I also agree with some of the comments. Yoga is all about the body so anything related with it you should be comfortable speaking about it.

  7. Kdm says

    My instructor asked if I had scoliosis (no. I don’t).

    Also asked me in front of entire class if I had problems with my feet while in downward dog. I just simply have tight hamstrings. Goodbye Marcia!

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