I read a post recently on yoga etiquette. It mentioned the usual stuff - no shoes in the studio, turn off your phone, respect the teacher's class sequence, don't step on someone else's mat, don't leave during savasana. And then the big one DON'T BE LATE. I agree! Or at least I thought I did. Then I started to read the comments left by other readers. So much judgment, so many haters. The negativity was palpable. It was not the enlightened collective response you might expect from the yoga community.
Sure we should try to be on time in life. Yoga class is no different. Many studios simply lock the front door a few minutes after the start of class.There are a small few among us who are consistently late and that isn't cool. But spare a thought for the poor yoga student who is late on occasion. Most people get delayed through no fault of their own. Traffic was heavy. The parking machine was out of order. The train was delayed. The latecomer already feels bad that she is late. Class has started. The mood is calm and the room is silent save for the sound of rhythmic breathing. All she can think about is how much noise she made as the end of her mat snapped against the hardwood floor, or ear cracking din she made when the accidentally dropped her keys on the floor and kick over someone else's water bottle at the same time. Audible sighing and tutting from the students already sitting on their mats doesn't help anyone. As a teacher I have experienced how one student's negative vibes can change the energy of the entire room and that to me is far more disrespectful than showing up late to class once.
Every distraction presents an opportunity for each of us to stay present with our own breath. It is the opportunity to respond with compassion and self-awareness rather than simply impulsively reacting. Observing without judgment is challenging but that is what yoga is all about.
Be on time for class, maybe even early, but remember that someday you might be late....