I hate the teacher. She's condescending, patronising and authoritarian, and I don't understand a word she's saying to me. I joined the beginners' class and she doesn't seem very happy with the fact that I'm a beginner. She's put me at the back so that I won't disturb the real people doing yoga who are obviously going to end up looking like Geri Halliwell, post-diet, while I continue struggling with Geri pre-diet. She tells me that I'm not lengthening my back enough, and then doesn't show me how to do it. She demonstrates new positions, but I'm at the back and can't see anything, so I move, and then she yells at me to get back. She lets all the class do handstands except me, because I can't, so I have to watch for 20 minutes of the lesson, and she won't let me try a shoulder stand. She tells me to get into a "relaxing pose" instead, but I know that means "close your eyes and shut up while the experts get on with it". She won't let me put my socks on when my feet are cold, and after four weeks she still doesn't know my name.
You get the picture. I am having, what I suppose you'd call a "clash of personalities". It annoys me even more because I can tell that she's really good at yoga. You can't knock her for that. She does all the positions better than those pictures of Geri by the swimming pool in OK! magazine, and she knows all the funny sounding names. But basically, she can't teach them for a million pounds. I wonder if at any point in her no doubt extensive yoga training anyone discussed with her how to communicate her knowledge. I wonder if anyone has told her how to teach. And I wonder what the hell gives her the right to assume that, just because she's good at yoga, she's automatically a good teacher? Why is it that any old Tom, Dick or Harry thinks that he can teach?
My flatmate is a graphic designer. She's recently got a job teaching adults graphic design one day a week. Her classes have a maximum of five students. She loves her teaching, but she finds it draining, and after her day at the chalkface joins me dribbling on the sofa. Another one of my friends is an accountant. Her firm recently flew her to Boston to teach accounting to other adults in a state-of-the-art conference centre. She loved it. But she told me that she'd never worked so hard in her life and had never been so exhausted. After five days. In a state-of-the-art conference centre. With motivated adults. You get what I'm trying to say. We don't need reminding that teaching is hard. So why does everyone else think it's so easy? Why do they think they can give up their day jobs and moonlight for a bit as a teacher? Neither of my friends was given any specific information on teaching techniques. Why? Because teaching is easy. You don't need to be professional to teach; anyone can do it.
I'm sure my yoga teacher is a nice woman. I'm desperate to take her aside and tell her a bit about modelling, or shared work, or even a bit of basic differentiation. I know about these because it's my job and I like to think I'm a professional, even if no one else does. Instead, I'm off yoga and I wish that I'd signed up for DIY for women instead. I've been turned off, probably for life, and all because of a rubbish teacher. I look around at my excellent colleagues and wonder if anyone's told them how important they are recently.
Gemma Warren is an assistant special needs co-ordinator at a London secondary school.Email: email@example.com