Should I tone down the "spiritual" aspect of my classes?

I’m a 20 year old instructor on a college campus and I love it! But many of the other group fitness classes are fitness based and while mine definitely have that aspect, I tend to draw from my background. I have studied in ashrams and my mother is the spiritual head of a new thought church. At the end of class, when I bow and offer “Namaste”, no one responds. Are they scared of my modern-age “woo-woo” yoga? Is it refreshing? I don’t want to scare people off, but I also want to stay true to what I love about yoga- that sense of connection.

I would do a 1 minute sea of ohms, then a quick Namaste

I can relate to students who don’t care for the spiritual stuff. I just want to actively stretch, especially at $20+/hr. Every 3 minutes is a dollar, so the less time wasted on chit-chat, the more I get out of the class.

I’d skip savasana, too, and instead give students the option to go inverted or to go nap for 5 minutes.

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Maybe they don’t know what namaste means? That it’s like saying hello or goodbye in that you answer someone back when they say it to you?

I personally don’t regard namaste as necessarily spiritual, any more than goodbye is (which used to be “God be with ye” before it was shortened over the centuries). It could be just a friendly greeting or send-off.

Anyway, that doesn’t help you. I would explain to your class what namaste means and say that when you say it, they are free to answer namaste back. Then it’s up to them.

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I agree with curlytoes’s reply

It looks like you never explained importance and meaning of ‘Namaste’. Many classes have this issue with using “Om” also. It is ok if you get this response at some place you are representing first time and audience don’t know you but in your own class this is pointing your addressing.

Response of student is based on his / her level of maturity and understanding about yoga background.

Remember that Namaste and Om as such have no direct link of yoga (though they are important and have value in it) but having said that I do use three times om chanting at the end and patanjali invocation at the beginning.

I have never faced any issue by any student (of any religion) because in between I keep explaining what is the meaning of what I am chanting. Everybody follows after my lines.

I have never seen this issue in any martial arts when they use Chinese or Japanese terms or lines at the start and end of the class.

You need to educate people about it.

Yoga without flavor of spirituality has no essence and the word yoga (root Sanskrit word “yuj”) has spiritual meaning behind it.

I know for me, in the beginning, that “woo-woo” yoga stuff scared me. But I never wanted the instructor to stop being their selves. I also learned to accept it as part of the class. That acceptance then turned into a curiosity to learn more about it. Once I started learning the spiritual side to yoga and the 8 limbs I became more interested in it. Now I feel some type of way if the yoga instructor doesn’t say “Namaste.”

It depends. You should have more than a single class. newbie, adept, advanced, and master classes.
Namaste is a bowing. A sign of respect.
It is a short way of saying thank you and may you be blessed with luck.
newbie is stretching.
Adept is introduction to pranayama and clearing nadis.
advanced is Samadhi.

This is classic progression.

There are many other aspects but this is the blunt traditional pockets.

What is crucial, regardless of which way you choose here, is your own authenticity, your intention(s), and your integrity. It doesn’t matter what your students do just as it doesn’t matter what your mother does. People are coming to you for you and the way you are conveying the practice. This is based on YOUR OWN practice … not a book or an opinion. Om, Namaste, Sanskrit, Mantra, Pranayama … these things cannot be stripped from Yoga and have Yoga remain intact. That would be utter nonsense.

Asana (if you are teaching that rather than Yoga) is not a fitness class. It can absolutely be used to support health in the physical body. It should never be compared to things that are purely for the body, have no history, no philosophy, and no introspection. Again, that would be utter nonsense.

Students are in the room to be educated. Their ability to be present and responsive is part of the education of a yoga student. When you come in the room and say “Good morning everyone” and they all sit there like deer in headlights … that is not because you said “namaste”. It is because they are disconnected from self and often oblivious to what’s going on around them. Teach them to answer questions. Teach them to be responsive. Teach them to meet the world half way - to greet and be greeted. THEN teach them what Namaste is and how it fits in. If they choose not to participate then it is a mindful choice and a great yoga teacher ALWAYS supports the mindful choice of their students.

Gordon Kaplan
Founder, Team Yoga

I think you should make them choose or make a separate class for this one. On a more practical approach, you can remove the spiritual aspect in your class but you still have to use terms and must still offer Namaste. However, it is your style that is making them come to you and it is up to you and how you feel about it. There is hard number to go about.

Just talk to your students… We can give you so much "advice and opinions/options but we dont know your class and your students.

jus say " in yoga the greeting namaste is used to honor & respect one another's wholeness. "