Cattiness in Yoga

Samantha is one of my best friends. She just happens to be an amazing, brilliant, independent, and strong woman who is also a fabulous yoga teacher. Sam recently had an experience that is a perfect example of the double standard we have mentioned before on Her story involves two yoga instructors with similar teaching styles (one male and one female) and a third yogi-turned-downward-facing-ass.

First a little background info: Sam recently began teaching classes at a new yoga studio in her town. The studio owner was excited for the diversity Sam’s teaching style would bring to her class schedule and Sam was excited to share her yoga practice with the local yogis and yoginis. Sam’s flow is strong and slow with extended holds in each pose, a warm room, and a nice savasana to end. Her first few classes went really well, and Sam had students gushing that her class was exactly what they had been looking for – different from everything else the studio was offering.

Then Sam gets an email from the owner of the studio saying she’s had complaints about Sam’s classes. While relaying comments to Sam from an email exchange, it becomes very clear that the complainer is a fellow instructor at the studio. Apparently Sam’s flow isn’t the only slow thing about this studio. This teacher said that students wouldn’t be challenged by Sam’s class, the temperature of room wasn’t right, the music wasn’t motivating, and that Sam had the students set up the room in reverse so they weren’t facing mirrors. But it seems the owner’s excitement over Sam’s teaching style was comparable to Mitt Romney’s campaign platform in the last election: He used to be for waffling, but then was against it. At the end of the conversation, she actually suggested that Sam change her teaching style.

Anyone that has been to a few yoga classes knows every instructor is different. You find the teacher(s) you click with and stick with those classes. If you don’t like something, you find another class. It’s absurd to ask a teacher to change their class plan to suit an individual. The studio owner should have advised her catty teacher to suck it up and carry her mat across the hall and try a different class.

Sam chose to leave the studio. There was too many folks with their chakras in a wad. Why tolerate cattiness from a fellow instructor (that was condoned by the owner), especially in an environment that is supposed to promote love and oneness? So, the studio scrambled for a few weeks and then hired a replacement instructor, Mike. Mike is a very sought after teacher in the yoga world. He leads slow classes that require a lot of strength with long holds, warm rooms and creative music choices. He even has the room face away from the mirrors. Sound familiar? He is a favorite at the studio.

Mike’s teaching style is very similar to that of Sam’s, yet no one has complained about his classes. Not even once. How does Sam know this? Mike happens to be her husband.

So why the double-standard for cattiness? Where does it come from? Why would the catty yoga teacher feel the need to pick apart a fellow yogini to the point of possibly removing her when they are of the same sex, but not utter a peep now that a strong, male yogi is in the picture? Is he not competition? What do you think?

Rebecca (aka – zenkitty2)



One response to “Cattiness in Yoga

  1. Good read. The studio owner was threatened by Sam’s popularity. Good Lord. The craziness never ends, doesn’t matter what the job.

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