Late For Yoga Again?
Posted on September 29th, 2010
Having been a student and teacher of Yoga for many years, I tend to always be coming back to this basic issue of 'community': how do we deal with students being chronically late? I understand the myriad of reasons (cough "excuses") for why people are late, but why should the majority of students who make concerted efforts to arrive early be succumbed to the disruption?
And what is this 'disruption'? You are settled in your meditation posture ready to ground and center at the beginning of class. Your teacher starts to guide you through the process of diffusing the day from the mind and body. You are asked to calm the face and delve into your breath. THEN, you hear it. The door opening, feet pattering next to you. A sticky mat slowly unrolling (or some just crack it open) followed by a slurp from the water bottle. You take a breath and let it go. Then, another and another and another....until you hear a whisper "Can you move your mat back a little?".
Just be a zen-master!
Some people would 'say' that as a yogi, you should be able to center regardless of the external environment. That is all fine to suggest in practical terms, but let's be real - it is distracting. Beyond this expectation to block out distraction, let's consider the element of energy. For the person that is rushing in late, more likely then not, they are carrying into the room a 'frantic' energy. Having a handful of people rushing in late casts an ungrounded energy into a room of people that are sharing and absorbing vibrations around them.
When I first started teaching, the studio had a simple rule: Door is locked at the beginning of class and no entry following the start of the yoga practice. Many studios do not apply this rule from a business perspective - they are worried that students who take all this time to travel to the studio and then turned away would be aggravated and stop attending. But what about the students who come early and prepared that end up being disrupted repeatedly? Don't they deserve to be catered to? Doesn't this disruption harm the overall environment that you are trying to create in your studio? Would not a strict late policy make students more respectful of the class community as well as develop better time management habits?
So as a studio, you just can not fathom turning late comers away. Next best solution, close and lock the door during the mental centering - post a sign outside the door asking late comers to:
*Wait patiently for the beginning meditation to finish. Enter class QUIETLY and QUICKLY once the meditation is completely
As students, we need to be honest with ourselves. Am I going to be cutting it close? If so, just plan to attend the next class.
*You thought you would be on time, but still ended up being late. Just hang out outside until you know the meditation and centering is complete.
*To be proactive with time management, put your yoga gear on in advance and go to the washroom before heading out, so you are ready to go and cause the least amount of disruption.
The whole point of practicing in a group is to share energy and experience. As teachers and students, we should foster this supportive environment with as much attention and respect as possible. And this principle applies to teachers as well. Rushing in late to a full class of students hardly sets a good example of time management skills nor studio policy.
Article by Kreg Weiss, My Yoga Online teacher and co-founder.
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