When The Yoga Student Is The Bully

I have been to yoga classes where the teacher is harsh, scolds the students unnecessarily and generally acts like a bully. I try to avoid those teachers, and to be fair, they are few and far between in my experience. And usually there is some explanation for their behavior — everyone has a bad day once in a while.

But what do you do when the yoga student is the bully? I have seen yoga students fight with one another over mat setup or the temperature, but I had never seen a student bully the teacher — until the other day.

Hot Off The Mat | A Bikram Yoga Blog

At a recent class, a student barreled into the room during the second set of breathing and caused a ruckus. I have been late to class before and I understand it can be stressful, but it is important to wait for the teacher to admit you and to try to enter the room with as little fanfare as possible.

She set up right in front of someone, huffing and puffing with anger when the teacher asked her to realign her mat. She then dragged her mat around the room looking for a new spot only to return to her original place by the door, scooting a little to the left so everyone could see.

Class continued, but the energy in the room had changed. People were looking around in surprise. Even the most experienced students were finding it hard to maintain stillness.

It soon became apparent that this student was not a Bikram regular. Perhaps that was part of the confusion about setting up in front of others. This is not as much of an issue in a traditional yoga practice since a mirror is not used.

She made up her own class as she went along. While we did Awkward Posture, she did Chair Pose, with her arms shooting up to the sky rather than level with the shoulders. Her Triangle Posture was a Warrior II, with her gaze forward rather than up towards her arm. I was surprised that the teacher did not correct her.

When the teacher opened the door to vent the room, she motioned for the teacher to close the door and argued with her when the teacher refused. I kept waiting for the teacher to ask her to leave, but she never did. I wondered if the teacher felt bullied or if she was simply trying to avoid any additional drama. I will probably never know.

I was letting this woman ruin my class. It wasn’t the fault of the teacher, or of this rude student, but my own fault for letting this drama distract me. I decided to refocus and did a better job through the floor series. But it was a challenge.

I don’t think the bully made it to the end of class, because when I glanced over before the final savasna, she was gone. I guess she didn’t have a good class either.

Fellow yogis, have you ever had a bully in class?

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