This morning in yoga class, the teacher did one of the most bizarre things ever—he was texting! Yes, that’s right, full on text messaging during his own class. WTF!?
The teacher tried to do this on the sly, pretending he was changing the music when in fact he was fiddling with his iPhone. Sometimes he would just check messages. Other times he would quickly tap out a response. Amazingly, most students didn’t seem to notice, or they just didn’t care. But this distracted behavior certainly affected the quality of instruction in the class. The whole experience was like when you’re on the phone with someone who’s trying to watch TV at the same time. Their thoughts kind of fizzle out halfway through an idea. They don’t quite respond with the clarity, timing, or sensitivity of someone who’s truly engaged.
Now maybe this teacher had some sort of emergency. I just don’t know, so I shouldn’t be too quick to judge or make assumptions about what was really going on. But this actually seems to be pretty typical behavior for the teacher in question. He regularly puts his students in Child’s Pose so he can dart out of the room to go to the bathroom. Or chat with someone at the front desk. Or check his iPhone again…
Maybe a teacher can get away with this sort of behavior if his class is really good or in super high demand—think Bikram Choudhury sitting on his throne—but in general it seems like a bad idea to be so checked out of your own class. The students pick up on this, and can easily tell when the teacher’s not fully present.
I still remember when one of my favorite teachers in L.A. started losing his mojo. It was so obvious to us students that he’d lost his passion for teaching. It had become a chore for him, something that he just needed to do to pay the bills. (To his credit, he did not text or take phone calls during class!) Thankfully, for my teacher and for all of his students, he recognized what was happening and made some positive changes in his life. Eventually he was back on top of his game, teaching with an open heart, and sharing that joy again with everyone else.
The texting yoga teacher this morning is not someone I know personally, not even casually. So maybe he’s got a perfectly legitimate reason for texting in the middle of class. But to his students, he just seemed disinterested. My best guess is that he’s experiencing the same sort of burnout as my teacher in L.A. It probably happens to all yoga teachers at some point in their careers. Yoga teachers are human, too, and they can have off days, off months, even off years.
So how does a yoga teacher get the spark back? How does a burnt-out yoga teacher learn to inspire others again? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, of course, but a good place to start would be to put the phone down and stop text messaging in class.