There you are in yoga class and you can’t wait to leave. Not because you’re tired and hungover, not because they’re doing your least favorite pose in the universe (again for the third time this week — what did you do wrong to anger the karmic gods anyway??). Nope, you’re ready to roll up your mat and call it quits because you can’t stand the yoga teacher. They’re being rather rude, in your humble opinion, and you did not rush to class from your stressful day job only to be annoyed by a teacher in the sanctity of your yoga studio, on your yoga mat.
But, wait, isn’t this what yoga is about? Enduring suffering so that you may find the sweetness? Observing your reactions and changing your actions for the better? If you leave, this is exactly what they want you to do. And you’ll know that you just couldn’t take it, you copped out and now you have to live with that stigma (until you let it go because it doesn’t really matter.) Then again, this teacher is borderline verbally abusive and they really don’t seem to know very much about the practice. What to do?
NPR’s Marc Silver asked that very question in a recent article. Well, as the headline asked, ‘When A Yoga Teacher Ticks You Off, Is It Rude To Walk Out?’ He consulted several yoga teachers to gather insight on what is acceptable yoga etiquette when faced with such a precarious predicament.
Of course, there’s a multitude of circumstances as to why one might leave class early, including things like personal emergencies, injury, text from OK Cupid hottie (kidding). But all urgent matters aside, is it ok to pack up and peace out?
I liked DC’s Peg Mulqueen answer:
“I have suffered through some miserable classes,” says Peg Mulqueen, who teaches at Flow Yoga in Washington, D.C. “Somebody would have to be doing something pretty egregious for me to walk out. If someone is doing something harmful or going to destroy me, I guess I would pack up and go. Otherwise, it’s all a learning experience: You’re learning what you didn’t want. If you sit through a class, and oh my God that instructor would not shut up, you’ve learned you want to find a class with minimal talking.”
Then again, a simple way to solve the quandary is to ask, “Are you being a spoiled brat?” as suggested by Ilona Holland, a yoga teacher in Council Bluffs, Iowa (who received a lot of flack for her answer but who was just offering a blunt way to question your initial reactions. Relax folks). Or maybe we just defer to the Rolling Stones on this one: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.
Next time you wish you could beam yourself out the door, try asking yourself these simple questions:
1. Am I in physical danger or compromising my safety?
2. Is the teacher using abusive or triggering speech?
3. Can I learn something by staying?
If after that you’re still set on scramming, pack up your goods with as little production as possible and make your way out of the room quietly (levitation helps) so as not to disturb fellow students. Note: If you answered yes to those first two questions it would behoove everyone involved to mention this to the studio management.
If you can’t find a good reason to leave besides you “really feel like it,” then suck it up and stick it out. Everything is a learning experience if we acklnowledge it as such. In this fast-paced world we live in, sometimes sitting in a class we don’t like feels like a real waste of valuable time — you could be updating your LinkedIn profile or organizing your desktop — but instead of harping on that, let yourself dive into the practice, and as they say, let yoga do you. If all else fails, modify, modify, modify. Also, Child’s Pose.
Let’s keep the convo going. Students and teachers, do you have some yoga class horror stories? What advice would you give?