In the past decade, I’ve attended classes in yoga studios all over the United States.

I enjoy observing the vibe, the setting, and the community. And I love to experience various styles of classes from different teachers, taking note of the cuing, pose choices, transitions, choice of music, etc. There’s a lot to be learned.

Sometimes, weird shit happens.

I innocently ventured off to a hot yoga studio for a class called “Sunday Surrender”. It was described as a combo of Bikram/vinyasa/martial arts. My daughter agreed to go with me. The studio was in a very small space and mats were almost touching. I spoke with the person on my left as we laid our mats down. She had taken exactly one yoga class prior to this one.

I’ll call the teacher “Dictator” . . .

His mat was front and center. He yelled out poses as he performed them. No cues. Zero. He started the class with a large puddle of sweat on his mat, which he swept over the students behind him (like an ocean wave) as he jumped back to chaturanga. And there were many, many chaturangas.

One student sat on her mat during flow. I didn’t notice. I was too busy catching my breath. Dictator: “JULIE! What’s wrong?!” All eyes go to Julie. Julie responds that she’s just feeling a bit lightheaded. Dictator: “Do you want a bucket?!” “No, that’s o.k.” Julie says. I’m relieved . . . since I signed up for yoga (not puking), but I’m also profoundly empathetic towards Julie.


We are in Eagle and then Warrior 3 and then Half Moon and my neighbor to my left has no idea what any of these things mean but seems to have an astounding knack for imitation. Dictator offers nothing in the form of instruction. Poses continue, rapid-fire. Everyone (but him) seems to be in survival mode. My daughter, on my right and directly behind Dictator, is taking wave after wave of Dictator’s sweat to her face.

About 60 minutes into the 75-minute class, Dictator barks “Wheel”. This four-limbed backbend isn’t for sissys. My daughter, my neighbor to my left, and I were in wheel when dictator screamed “WHEEL!” again.

This was new.

Every other pose – you got one chance. Apparently, someone was not in wheel. I couldn’t look to see who. But this situation created a lecture about how some people are so ridiculously close-minded that they won’t try anything new, which quickly led to Dictator’s proclamation that the close-minded are destined to spend the rest of their days planted in recliners hoping for death. Wow.