American Yoga vs Indian Yoga
I’m in India right now! Come to my first yoga class in India with me!
Watch this video on Youtube here.
Hey guys, it’s Brett. And I am recording this from my hotel room in India. I’m traveling in India right now, a little bit for work, for pleasure, and of course to do yoga. I don’t have my normal camera set up, but I’m about to go to my first yoga class here in India, and I want to take you along with me and tell you how it goes after. So welcome to India and let’s go take class. Oh, look there’s a cow. I’m going to go in. I have no idea what to expect. I don’t know if they’re going to teach in English. I think they’re going to, but I will find out and I will report back.
I’m back from class. I showered, I tried to put make-up on, but I didn’t bring very much make-up. And the make-up I did bring has completely melted, it’s just not used to being in India and was basically dissolving in my palms. But I am here, and I want to report back on the class I just took and basically, I just got my butt kicked. It was a really hard class. To give a little background, I went to a yoga studio here in India that is the kind of studio that actual Indian people go to. I’m not here like an ashram or doing some kind of program that’s for Americans. I literally just went to a yoga studio like normal Indian people do. That’s cool.
And I went to an intermediate, what was called the Core Hatha class, and it was so hard. It was so, so hard. The teacher spoke English, everything was taught in English. There’s a lot of English here in India. Pretty much every one speaks English which is cool. And basically she was very into rules, so it was a really interesting difference to see. Her teaching style is very, very different from my teaching style, but the biggest thing was that there was just really no coddling of people. The class was just really hard. She had us holding all the poses for 10 breaths, and she counted to 10 so slowly you thought you’re going to die holding plank, holding a lot of other hard poses. And definitely, other people in the class were complaining and at one point, a person even shouted to her, “You’re counting too slow.”
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So I do not think I was alone in thinking the class was really challenging and really focused on the core, obviously. I guess core hatha that implies that. But highlights of the class were I came in and put my mat down on what I thought was the back of the class that actually turned out to be the front of the class. That’s always an awkward moment when you’re in a new yoga studio and you don’t know what’s front and what’s back. Lucky me, I was in the very front.
There are a lot of alignment rules that she also reminded me of that again, I don’t really teach in the US that are traditionally the way things are supposed to be. She wanted to have my feet together when I was standing in tadasana all the time. She was always cueing, “Have your feet together. Have your feet together.” I always practice with my feet a little apart or hip width apart because I’m a woman and I have big hips and it’s way more comfortable for me to stand that way. It’s more comfortable for my low back. It feels better in my forward fold. I always cue people to stand with their feet hip width apart because it’s way harder to stand with your feet together, and I don’t think it really benefits your practice in any way except make it harder and maybe more uncomfortable on your back. But she was definitely cueing that so that’s a very ashtanga, traditional stance. I was struggling to constantly how my big toes touching and my feet together all the time.
It really reminded me in the US about how much we want the students to have fun in class, and we want them to have a good experience, and that’s really important to us as teachers. And some of the studios I teach at require I play music. There’s fun in music playing. And I offer words of encouragement and empathize with people when I’m making them do really hard things, and tell them it’s almost done or great job. Again, I’m saying this in a yogic way in a classroom, but I’m constantly trying to help people along.
It was really interesting to go to a class where that was just not a concept. It wasn’t about pleasing the student, it wasn’t about trying to coach people through it and be positive. It was really just we’re doing this for 10 breaths, I’m counting it, and stick it out. And if you don’t, I might yell at you. The class felt like torture, it felt like torture. And I’m someone who loves yoga.
Now after 40 minutes of torture, I felt great like the end, the last half of class was good, and I felt good after class as you always do with yoga. That’s the joy. But it was definitely at the beginning, in the first 10 minutes, I was looking at the clock and thinking how am I going to get through this. I wished I had practiced at home, in my hotel room by myself as I’ve been doing every other day.
Hello. Okay, live update. I went to another yoga class at the same studio, different style, went to power yoga at the most advanced level actually that they have on the schedule, and had a different teacher from the first time. And I’m happy to report that I actually had a great experience. And I’m so glad I went back and didn’t let class number one, where I got admonished twice in public and yelled at, keep me from returning because this class was still very not like an American class, there was no music, no coddling, no encouragement, but the teacher was really great.
I had a guy teacher this time and he really interacted with a class. And we were a smaller class so he was also going around and giving pointers to each people but in a friendly way. He was smiling and it was really hard. He still was cueing feet together and some of the more traditional ashtanga alignment, but he wasn’t as much as a stickler, as enforcing it as the other teacher was.
And we did some really cool stuff in his class that I am absolutely that I haven’t seen in the US, and that I am 100% going to incorporate into videos and classes I teach online. He had a really cool way of teaching bound half-moon pose. For those of you that are a little more advanced, you know what that pose is. For those of you that are even just starting out, he had some really amazing exercises for building your shoulder strength so you can do chaturanga better and inversions better.
I was really blown away. There was a really cool thing he did with twisting chair pose. A cool variation where you’re up on your tippy toes that I’m going to teach. Literally after his class, I felt so inspired and I actually wrote on my notebook a bunch of things that I want to incorporate into my own sequences and I really had a positive experience.
So moral of the story is that India, just like everywhere, you need to find a teacher that resonates with you and that inspire you and that makes you feel great when you take class, and who you can really learn from. And whether that person is online or you are lucky enough to have someone like that locally, it was just such a big reminder to me how yoga is so huge and there’s so many different styles. And it’s really the people teaching and the personality and the humor and what the teacher is bringing that really makes or breaks a class and that people like such different things. That’s the great news. There’s so many options.
Thumbs up this video if you liked hearing about my adventures in India. And do you want to see more videos maybe like this where I talk a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes? Let me know in the comments below. Do you think American yoga has gotten to the point where we coddle people too much and we have music and power yoga and all these fancy things that are really designed to cater to students? Or do you think the more stricter Indian way of no music, holding things, counting breaths for long periods of time, just a little more stricter environment is better? I want to hear from you in the comments below. Of course share this video with a friend, subscribe to my channel. I can’t keep making videos and doing these things unless you guys support and like and share and tell me what you want to see more of in the comments. And I am waving at you from India. I’ll see you next time. Bye.