31 May 2006

Beginner Classes That Ain't

A friend recently asked for recommendations for yoga classes - she is a beginner and so wanted a beginning yoga class. Sensible, no? So we found her a beginner's class at a studio near her home. She went. And she discovered a problem I've too often encountered. A beginner's class that ain't.

By this I mean, a beginner shows up and finds a class of advanced beginners or early intermediates or whatever, and the teacher leads the class as if everyone knows what's going on. It's sink or swim time. Many of us preservered despite the initial discomfort (I recall this is literally how my first swimming teacher (when I was seven) figured out what we needed instruction in - by throwing us in the deep end, observing us, and then, if necessary, saving us.... Of course they could just ask questions, but its hard to even know what to ask when you are just starting out, and not a little intimidating.

I don't think teachers do this on purpose, they are often trying to deal with very large classes, and are simply doing their best. Some studios recognize this issue and offer "real beginner" classes - which I applaud. And always look for when I'm trying out a new (for me anyway) form of yoga.

Still, I can't help but wonder how many folk have been lost to yoga due to this kind of experience?


Yogamum said...

Yup, I've seen that happen a lot -- the teacher scaring the beginners away. I think it is very hard to teach a mixed-level class but it *can* be done, and done well. And like you said, it's great when studio offers a true beginners class.

Bonnie Russell said...

It happens alot, sometimes the only way to find a real beginners class is to do some sort of six week corse which doesn't always suit everyone and sometimes people just want to try a class out. It works the other way too though, there is not enough intermediate classes so advanced beginers end up haveing to hear everything 20 times cause they are stuck between levels