Ok, potentially sticky post ahead! Again, *serious announcer disclaimer voice* this blog post are MY opinions solely and do not reflect those of my employers, boss, studio and or co-workers.

The ever lovely Dancing J has brought up a very interesting point about Beginners in class. The first-timers who walk in tentatively into the studio with their water bottle and a hanky of a towel whilst pointing furtively to The Chamber, “Bikram?”.

If it’s your VERY first class, it’s a good idea to raise your hand if your teacher has not asked you yet. This DOES NOT apply if it’s your FIRST TIME seeing this teacher! [It humours me when I ask “Anyone here first time?” and 3/5 times someone raises their hand, and I ask “Never done Bikram Yoga before?” and they go “Oh no no, it’s my 5th class, but my first time with you!” -__- ]


The first hard fast rule about Beginners that I learned from my mentor and the legendary Mary Jarvis? ย Just Let Them Be.


I honestly don’t believe in making them start with their toes and heels together for half moon or making them do all the asanas “properly” because let’s face it, for their first class they are trying to SURVIVE the heat. Most likely their thoughts range from ย :

– Oh my GOD it’s hot in here

– Why are there so many half naked people here?

– OK! Only … 80 more minutes to go! FUCK! … 50 more minutes … SHIT! …. 30 more minutes … FUCK THIS SHIT! … 10 more minutes … FUCK THIS SHIT WITH A CHAINSAW REPEATEDLY DEATH STAB DEATH STAB RAAAR

– If this teacher bends low enough will I get a nipple slip?



That being said, the only time I call out to beginners is when they are breathing through the mouth or continously wiping themselves down. If you wipe yourself down, your body has to work harder to produce sweat and when it does so, it makes you feel hotter! Besides, sweat is like nature’s moisturiser, so who wouldn’t want nice soft silky skin post class?



However, I do help the Newbies out with the arms for Eagle or the grip for Standing Bow. But if they don’t get it round for the other side or the second set, Just Let It Be. There’s always tomorrow [or the next day] to fix them!


It’s totally OK if they take a break and sit down and sip water. Afterall, the same above 4 thoughts are coursing through their head, their heart’s probably pounding against their ribcage and their either wishing death upon themselves or the teacher. Funny story : I once told a first timer that she’s ok, she won’t “die during class”. Apparently she heard me wrong and went up to management to complain about me. But live and let live, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰


Above all, it’s their first time! Many of us teachers or long-time practitioners have totally forgotten our very first class! [I remember being confused. A lot. And wondering why the hell an American is teaching in the worst possible English ever. Oh is it time yet?!]. That’s why I have decided to start taking “other styles” of yoga. I know, gasp, shock, horror. BUT, honestly, when was the last time I felt totally lost and not knowing what is next? It’s good to feel “lost” once in a while, I believe it should teach me some compassion and imbibe some form of humility in me.


My opinion : Don’t scare the Newbies with too many rules! The No Fidgeting / Moving between postures will come in time, they will learn the right time to drink water [if at all!], don’t try to make them do a ‘perfect posture’ because it’s their first class!



I know some Bikram teachers can be hardcore [myself included] but an EFFECTIVE teacher has to learn how to read a class and then pick their battles. Remember, lose the fight, win the war! Don’t scare the newbies [unless of course they are racketeering or attempting to commit crimes against humanity].



Let the Newbies decide to come back! Be the teacher that they’ll go “Oh WOW that was fun, I wanna come do this AGAIN!” and not “Oh WOW that was possibly the WORST thing ever, What the FUCK was up her ass? Has she not gotten laid in over 8 years?!”. Whatever their motivation to come back to try Bikram Yoga, be it their health, or for the teacher [I will admit that my first 3 classes I went to the same teacher because he was AWESOME] or simply to get washboard abs and buns of steel, the main thing is they COME BACK. ๐Ÿ™‚







Posted on December 1, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I’m glad I had Mei as my mentor (guide? light? whip?)

  2. Hui Mei.

  3. Ha—I adore this post.

    I personally have a love/hate relationship with newbies. We are were beginners once, but…ah, sometimes it’s just SO DAMN HARD to practice next to one. That’s my very un-yogi-like admission. Shhhh. Don’t tell! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Shoot—I meant to write, “We were ALL beginners once…”

    Bleh. I’m going home.

  5. Yep, I agree and THEN some. I’ve got a half written post on the same topic, too… but it kept on getting too long and rant-y… at some point I will actually post something. ๐Ÿ˜› But yeah, for fuck’s sake, the new folks have got enough to worry about without having a crazy teacher!



      Sometimes I think it’s the language barrier. I teach in English, but the majority of folks [especially the older generation] don’t really “think” in English in their head as it’s not their first language.

      Or sometimes you’re upside down and you don’t know what the hell an ‘elbow’ is.

  6. Oh gosh, people are so funny when they get upside down. Or at the end of class. I love spine twist. Do you find that when you tell someone to “hold their knee”, they have NO idea where their knee is? They go for one foot, then the other foot, then the hip, then the shin… it is the funniest damn thing.

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