Years ago I substitute taught a yoga class for a very aggressive teacher, who besides a having a dominating style, actually instructed well and had a regular following. This teacher was well known for a harsh and loud delivery of directions and for a brutal hands on approach with students. I had taken a few classes from this person as well as a couple other teachers and came to the realization that students will be drawn to specific teachers and teaching styles.
So one day I went to sub this one teacher’s class again, parked my car in the building’s garage and made my way towards the elevator. As its doors were closing I lunged forward to put my arm in between them, in an attempt to have them reopen, but instead made the doors stall. Then I placed my hands on the two doors and attempted to squeeze them back together so the elevator would restart. That was when I heard a “click-clack-click-clack” sound echoing rapidly from somewhere in the garage.
The noise was closing in on me at a hurried pace and suddenly was accompanied by a blurting voice, “Stop it! Stop it! What are you doing?” I turned around to spot a woman clad in spandex, a coat and purse hung around one arm while walking in high heels. “Click-clack-click-clack,” she steered herself right towards me with a face displaying a frazzled sense of urgency. I calmly responded, “Well, I’m trying to shut the doors to get the elevator to reset.” Her eyes widened and head shook side to side, “NO, no don’t do that, you’re going to break it!” So I let go of the doors and she continued, “I was once stuck in an elevator with a CRAZY woman! So, stop it right now!” I looked at her and wondered silently if she was the only one in that elevator then said, “Looks like the elevator does not want to cooperate. Let’s go over here and walk up the garage ramp.”
“Click-clack-click-clack” shuffled the tense lady beside me when she questioned, “Are you substituting today?” I replied that I was and to that she asked,
“Well, am I going to burn any calories in your class?!”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“WHAT do you mean you don’t know? You ARE teaching the class aren’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am I am.”
“Well you can’t say!?”
“It depends on what you do.”
“Well, I want to burn calories, so should I take your class or not?!.”
Trying not to show my irritation I responded, “Look, if you really want to burn calories go run on a treadmill.” And she did, whew!
After this encounter, “click-clack” lady actually appeared in a couple of my classes, and I crack a smile as I recall this because her being there at least showed some curiosity in trying another style of yoga. I don’t teach in a dominant manner but rather in an open-ended way that encourages exploration into the internal as well as external parts of the self. This one particular place where the aggressive teacher and I taught class was in a very popular gym. Included on staff were a diverse group of teachers so there were many opportunities for the members to discover the different styles of yoga. Still, it was a gym and the practice space was surrounded by a slew of activities, music and machinery whirling all around the place which adds to the already evident frenetic-ism . And it seems for the most part in gym culture people want to sweat, feel the burn, get a good workout, and yes – burn calories.