I Became a Yoga Teacher and Got a Lot Worse at Yoga

I know that sounds like a clickbait title. Like I am trying to mislead you with a confusing statement that I am obviously going to twist in some way. But that statement is absolutely how I felt for the first few months as a yoga teacher. Why does yoga suddenly seem so much harder? Why can’t I take poses as far as I used to be able to to? And why the heck am I suddenly such a prop-user? I could build a small castle with all of the blocks that I am stacking in my practice!

My 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training

When I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training, I felt like my views on all of my previous yoga classes had been shattered. I had always practiced yoga in a busy class at a mega-gym where I rarely, if ever, got one-on-one attention from the teacher. Then I took my practice to my house where I began following routines from my favorite YouTube yogi, Yoga with Adrienne (which I totally recommend to anyone wanting to get started!). But here was my fatal flaw in my practice: I based my perception of my success on if I could do what the teacher was doing, what my neighbor was doing, and especially what I had done the day before. Gasp. Yes. I wasn’t completely present. in the moment. with my body. on my own mat. minding my own dang business. (Despite being told to at the start of class.)

I noticed recently in a class that there are two particular poses that look nothing like they used to for me prior to doing my teacher training.

A Couple of Examples

Triangle Pose

First, when I do triangle pose, I can no longer touch the ground. I either prop my bottom hand on my shin or on a block. It bothered me a lot actually when I was challenged to not flop my body over and contort to try to touch the ground like I thought I was supposed to. But now, with modifications, I have found that I actually like to do triangle pose. It feels good through my side body and gives me a deeper stretch by paradoxically not going as deep into the pose.

Below is a great guide to triangle pose from Yoga Outlet.

triangle pose

Half Pigeon Pose

The second pose that I do differently now is half pigeon. As a teenager in my first yoga classes, I could easily plant my hip down to the ground with my entire thigh supported. Yet, when I went through my teacher training, I began to appreciate that actually, all I was doing was twisting through my spine and very passively dropping into the pose. So now, in a busy class with plenty of neighbors to see me do it, I place a block under my hip and actually feel that I can peacefully rest in half pigeon.

And here is another great guide from Yoga Outlet for half pigeon pose.

pigeon pose


And you know why I make these modifications? Because I have hyper-mobile shoulders and a condition called a femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) that makes it very difficult to contort my shoulders or to maximally flex and externally rotate my hip. But before I actually started listening to what my body was telling me, I felt embarrassed to modify for these conditions. So instead, I tried to push through them (and the pain that the poses caused).

My Current Yoga Teaching

In my current practice as a yoga teacher, I have the advantage of working with students, all of whom I also treat in physical therapy. This means that I know their medical history, their aches and pains, the name of their cats and dogs, and likely what they ate for breakfast last week. But when I walk in as a student to the yoga studio for my personal practice, I have never had the teacher ask me how my painful hip is doing that day. So that means that she/he has no authority to tell me how deeply I should take my pose. It is my prerogative to take out a block whenever I need to or to stand up and shake out my cramping muscle or uncomfortable wrist. And if you are ever in my class that I am teaching, I give you the same permission to take authority over your own body.

If any yoga teacher tells you otherwise, they are probably a bad teacher and potentially a danger to your practice.

So since becoming a yoga teacher, I objectively look like a more novice yogi. I take lots of breaks and use props constantly. But once I shook off my own ego, I began to appreciate that that is what a yoga practice is. It is permission to play, fail, and do something different than what you did yesterday.

Product Review: The Diva Cup

Why a menstrual cup? I have been plagued by the ongoing search for the best menstrual products available for the past few years. As with most young women, I hit puberty and just immediately began using the menstrual products that my mom and my sisters were using. For...

I Became a Yoga Teacher and Got a Lot Worse at Yoga

I know that sounds like a clickbait title. Like I am trying to mislead you with a confusing statement that I am obviously going to twist in some way. But that statement is absolutely how I felt for the first few months as a yoga teacher. Why does yoga suddenly seem so...

PAINWeek in Vegas – My Highlights

To start, I would like to thank the group at Entropy Physiotherapy and the EPIC Scholarship for the amazing opportunity to attend PAINWeek 2018. What a week! I had the pleasure of spending five days in Las Vegas learning about pain and its clinical management in a...

8 Tips I Learned From Carrying My Baby

One of the unexpected physical woes of first-time motherhood for me was dealing with the aches and pains associated with carrying my baby. To be sure, I had carried many other babies in my life up until that point. But this was the first time that I was carrying...


Most people will cringe at the topic of today’s blog. And the main reason is probably because it has the dreaded “v-word” in it. It seems, using anatomical words can throw us for a loop. We feel like we have been caught talking dirty in some way. But far too few...

Postpartum Self-Care

There are so many things that seem like the “biggest” priority to a new mother. Am I complying with safe sleeping habits for baby? Am I producing enough milk? How much coffee is too much coffee? What is my baby’s poop telling me about his/her health? Is my baby’s head...

Postpartum Anxiety

Here is my ode to all of the moms that helped me through postpartum anxiety. Because, let me tell you, it was no joke. And I wouldn’t have made it through with a happy and healthy family life if it weren’t for my support team. First, to my mom: Who gave me guidance...

Preparing the Pelvis for Labor and Delivery

Many women don’t realize until they are in labor that it is quite an athletic feat. In the movies, it is portrayed as a simple test of willpower and tolerance to pain. But in reality, any women that has gone through it can attest that childbirth is actually quite a...

Why Every Woman Should Have Fertility Awareness

Most women feel completely mystified by the inner-workings of their menstrual cycle. I spoke more about what is normal and abnormal in a menstrual cycle on another blog. The majority of women have also never heard of fertility awareness, AKA fertility awareness-based...

The Secret World of Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is often a world of secrets and subtleties. It can be confusing and alarming. Or it can be totally normalized. Pelvic pain can be disregarded by healthcare professionals or minimized by family, friends, and partners. It is deciding to not go out for a run...