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Being a yoga teacher is an amazing way to make a living, but just like any serviced based job, you do have to work with the public and that can involve some challenging conversations.

Most students are great, but some students bring their own challenges. This past week I had a couple of instances with students that were not following my instructions and I found myself having some awkward conversations.

Dealing with “bad” students is frustrating for many reasons, but when explaining to students the importance of following along, here are some tips:


When a student is modifying a pose or an exercise it’s much easier to ensure their safety than if they are doing something completely different than what you are offering. If they are completely doing their own thing, that can be a safety issue.

When speaking to a student after class about them following along with what you are offering, make sure to tell them the biggest reason is for their safety. Re-assure them that they are more than welcome to modify the exercises or poses, but that it’s for their safety that they follow the class rather than coming up with their own work out altogether.


It’s important that your students know that you have control of the room. When students disregard your authority, others may follow suit or may assume that you don’t have control of the room.

When students begin to do their own practices it is a safety concern for them and for the others in the room. From students starting to follow what other students are doing rather than listening to you to students not feeling safe because you don’t have control of the room. 

You are the leader in the room, your students trust that you will keep them safe. Make sure you keep control of the room by reminding wayward students that there are other people in the room.


I had a student last week who did a completely different set of exercises than what I was offering. When I spoke with her after class, she told me she was looking for more cardio. I mentioned another class style that might better suited for her for next time.

I had another student who was modifying a lot of the fitness class I was leading, which is totally fine. However, I opened the door to cool the room down as everyone was very hot. She was near the door and complained that it was too cold with the door open. I talked to front desk staff about it after, and I suggested they tell her to set up in the middle of the room next time, and they told me they had already told her that! 

Sometimes, just like any other situation in life, people just do their own thing. They aren’t bad people, but they aren’t the best students. As a service-based industry, we as yoga teachers do need to set a standard to the behaviour that we will tolerate in our classes. It’s hard to have tough conversations with our students, but it is so important for their safety, the safety of the rest of your students, and for you authority.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a student about something that happened in class, make sure you speak with someone else like a front desk staff member, a manager or the owner. 

How do you deal with ‘bad’ students? Please share in the comments!

For more tips, make sure to check out my video on dealing with disruptive students:


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Ashley TalbottComment