Monday, January 30, 2012

Sorry, I Have Nothing to Sell You

Not infrequently, people will ask me what "my yoga" is like. I give them a pretty straightforward answer.  Then they ask, "Well, is it good for my xxxx (fill in, back, leg, headache, whatever issue this person has)?" Sure, I say.  You just need to let your teacher know about xyz.  "Well, will it improve it?"  Maybe, if you work with the right person and are honest with yourself about your limitations. They will usually ask again what it's like.  I tell them to try it. That's how I found out "what it's like."  They lose interest.

Today I had a similar, if hurried, encounter at the yoga studio itself.  A nice young woman came in at exactly 9:30 (the time my class starts). She was new to the studio (please!  if you do try yoga, arrive early on your first visit!).  The front desk person explained the led full primary class to her. She seemed unsatisfied.  I attempted to step in and answer her questions.  Fast paced. Not geared to beginners, but you're more than welcome to join.  There isn't a ton of instruction, but you have a vinyassa background. Great.  You'll be fine.  Come have some fun with it.

Surprised by the description (had she not read it online?  new people, please read the class descriptions!), she snapped "well if there isn't much instruction, then why is it called a "led" class"?  Well, she did sort of have a point there, but again, had she read the class description, she would've seen that the class was geared towards students with a strong background with the practice (ashtanga or vinyassa).   Again, I reiterated that she was more than welcome to come and check it out.  She replied "that's ok. I'm already kind of 'turned off' of the idea."

I'm not really sure what this person was looking for.  Did she want me to tell her what she wanted to hear so that she could feel comfortable, or more "turned on" by a sexy description?  I felt like I was put on the spot to "sell" her the class.  I do hope that she came back later in the day to try one of the other classes on offer or perhaps she'll come back tomorrow to try Mysore style.

But I truly do believe that the Ashtanga system is "99% practice, 1% theory" and that's what makes it a tough sell.  No one told me what ashtanga was like.  I showed up.  I tried it.  I was hooked, the end.  Even when I started taking yoga, I didn't know anyone else who was doing it.  I tried it, I liked it.  The end.  You can't do the practice justice by trying to "sell it" through a description, no matter how exact your description is.  It's an experience.  Get on your mat (or a rented mat if you're completely new).  Try different styles.  See what you like.  I'm a teacher/student, not a proselytizer.  I have nothing to sell you.  Anything I would describe to you, beyond the basic facts, would simply be a description of my experience of the practice which may not match what you find on the mat. 

Let your experience of the practice convince you.


  1. I love and miss your classes :)

    1. Come to Philly and take one :) Miss having you in class.

  2. Great post, thanks. Loved the end, 'anything i tell you would be only what my experience was...'

    I chuckle a bit when I contrast that with my first class, just over a year ago. I clumped up to the desk a half hour early and asked if the power yoga class 'was a good one for a first timer'.

    She smiled, looked at my Ganesh-like figure, and said 'welllllll, it's not a level one class, it will get going a little fast for you, but if you just do what you can do and listen to your body, you'll do fine'. I went in, got thoroughly worked over, and was hooked.

    1. Thanks, Rhino! I really appreciate you sharing your experience and am glad that you tried the class and were hooked. You completely proved my point.


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