Who Moved My Mat?


Who Moved My Mat?

Many students have heard teachers refer “lovingly” to their time at the 500-hour teacher training. In my training group, there were 459 trainees. Forget about seeing yourself in the mirror and, most of all, forget about having personal space. Picture yourself making your way through the hottest club to the dance floor, and that’s what it’s like finding a place to drop your mat. It was elbows and behinds, and sweat flying everywhere, people!

I recall one experience that illustrates the opposite of a key etiquette of class. One day, before our a.m. class, a trainee had placed her mat down, and then ran to do a quick errand. She walked back in, and all I remember is an exclamation of, “who moved my mat‽” After a very unyogi-like, heated conversation between her and a neighboring trainee, the latter trainee grabbed her mat and stormed off, and the former trainee was left quivering and shaken by the exchange. Not the safe space we seek in the yoga room, right?

What’s the lesson here?

Some people show up to class, see a full room and instantly decide, “way too crowded for me.” Other people show up to class, pumped up by the booming energy all these bodies are supplying, and say, “bring it!” And still others show up and find it frustrating that some mats are not efficiently placed, and that they now have to put their mat in an awkward position.

So what’s the etiquette, and what are good suggestions to step into a crowded class?

First off, during all classes, we observe the golden rule in the yoga room: silence! Many of our students love to practice a silent meditation before and after class, which is highly encouraged. During this silent time, we encourage students to make kind adjustments to ensure all yogis around them have proper space and are able to see at least a sliver of themselves in the mirror. It is not good etiquette to move somebody else’s mat. It is, however, good etiquette to kindly ask for adjustments when needed.

So why should you stay and practice class with 25+ other really hot bodies in a full class?

Because it is YOUR yoga practice and you know how amazing YOU feel after class! In the yoga room, we have an opportunity to practice building boundaries around our yoga mat. It’s a great learning opportunity to not take on the energy of a person beside you, and also to let go of how you might perceive they are affecting you in your practice. Basically, it’s a good idea to practice letting go of what doesn’t belong to you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s a fabulous way to connect with your spiritual yogi community and celebrate everything that we are individually and collectively as a unit.

During a full class, we might need to stagger with our neighbor during postures. Should you need to leave the room or drink some water, be mindful to do so after a posture has completed. Don’t worry: larger classes mean we are generating a lot more natural heat, so the heating system adjusts to that. And should you find yourself feeling like the middle passenger in a fully crowded elevator, you get to do what you came to learn: breathe deeply.

We practice self care in the yoga room, which means you can take to a knee whenever you need too. All too often, we cultivate the behavior where we push and push ourselves for more output, and we do this until we fall flat with absolute exhaustion. Rather than pushing yourself, take your time, and enjoy the journey of discovery of your practice.

Remember, at West Coast Sweat, we are a soulful community where you can start where you are, use what you have, do what you can, and receive what you need.

Who’s the most important person in your life? You!

Categories: Breathing, Stress Relief


There are 2 comments

  1. Daal

    Such a great reminder to basically not take things personally. I’ve witnessed a couple of ugly situations and am relieved that that gone is the yogi who thought the front left corner belonged to her.

    Rather than fume inwardly, tap the person’s shoulder & gently ask if they’ll kindly scoot over a bit. Likewise, ask classmates behind you if if they can see.

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