The Late Student

Imagine you're reading about yourself:

You made your plans to practice yoga today. You had a lot to get done, but you arranged the events so you could make it to class. You walk in, roll out the mat, get your props, and anxiously await the class to start. You've made it to your yoga mat. Life's assundry of minor or major challenges get the mental message to step aside for awhile. It's time for you to breathe without thinking.You're among a group of  25 or so fellow students who love this particular class. Everyone is positioned with respective space and it would require multiple people moving and re-aligning their mats if someone came in after the door closed. The collective energy of practitioners is getting in sync and you're ready to practice. The teacher is greeting new people and surveying the lay of the land. It's almost time.

Another two people make it in the room. Adjustments are made to create their space. Its okay because class is scheduled to start in a few more minutes. You are so glad you are where you are. The time has come. The door in the front of the room has been closed. The teacher starts the class with a grounding pose, a few words to inspire and conscious breathing begins. It feels so good to move and breathe as the teacher guides you from pose to pose. Time ceases to exist...until the door opens...ten minutes after the class started.

The zone you've aquired is broken because someone has chosen to wade through the people in an effort to find a place to fit in. Multiple people are required to move to make this happen. The teacher keeps guiding, but you have to stop where you were to make room. A sense of aggravation emerges as this person rolls out their mat, sets their stuff down, and actually tries to make small talk while getting in place.

You resume your practice and work on releasing the negative energy of aggravation the person next to you ignited. "Breathe. Okay, where are we in the practice? Ok...let's see if I can get back in the zone....I wonder if the other people in here are feeling the same way? Maybe its just me. Breathe. The door even has a sign that states "in consideration of others, no entrance when door is closed."
I made it on time...I dealt with like a yogi and relax!"

You get flowing again and the mind chatter starts to fade. Feeling the energy and you get back in the zone. Your arms reach up for the sky in the Sun Salutation and as you flow into your forward fold, the door opens again. "Seriously? The class started 15 minutes ago!"

The couple peers in to determine their spot and walk right on in. Multiple adjustments of mat placement is made to accomodate them.

"Thank God they're not trying to squeeze in by me...can't believe they're being this inconsiderate! Note to Self...don't stress if you're going to be late to apparently does not matter to the teacher."

I write this scenario as a sequel to the article about manners and yoga. Truthfully, I was surprised to have quite a few teachers defend/justify people being late for class. So, I felt compelled to address this apparently mixed emotion issue of being on time. We have edges we flirt with in a yoga practice. How far past the edge is time allowed to be crossed?

There are various circumstances that determine if tardiness is kosher or not. If it is a room that is not normally full and a late comer would not disturb others, that is one thing. If it is a class that is very full and requires multiple re-arrangements on behalf of those who are present, that's another issue. If you own your own studio and have a relaxed policy on attendance, that's your choice. If you teach for a company that clearly states their policy, I suggest you follow their policy....or, roll the dice if a complaint is made.

Remember, from a business perspective, people who come to practice yoga are also paying customers. Professionalism in any field, including yoga, needs to maintain certain standards. Perfection is not the expectation; however, a foundation of well established manners should be expected and practiced by everyone. The late individual may have really needed yoga. But, maybe the closed door was a message to teach him one of the Niyamas he needs to practice. It could be Santosa (contentment). Maybe the late one needs to find contentment in the challenge faced when dealing with the issues that made this yoga class not happen. Maybe it was karma. But, I digress...this is not the subject of debate.

"When the student is ready, the teacher will come" can be used in defense on both sides of this fence.

 Perhaps the teacher is the late student giving the yoga teacher an opportunity to practice Ahimsa. This limb not only includes having compassion for all living things, but also exercising our responsibilities. As a teacher, you are responsible for all the students who took the time to come to class. It is all a choice based on a plethora of dynamics. When is late too late? What about the established late person(s)? What about the larger group that practices timeliness? They need a good yoga practice just as much as the late student.

 We are each other's teachers and students in this collective practice.

Personally, if I approached a door that stated, "in consideration of others, no entrance when door is closed", I would not enter...irregardless of how desperate I needed to practice. I would take it as a karmic hint to practice alone.

Being on time for a scheduled class is a simple issue. It can be made complicated with various philosophic viewpoints. But, the truth is, use your intuitive instinct of what feels right or wrong and act accordingly. It might be uncomfortable; however, if you follow your intuition, you will reveal a stronger reflection of yourself to not only others...but, to your own Self.

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