I recently walked into a packed yoga class (mat to mat) with my favorite teacher a few minutes after he started, so the practitioners were already flowing in and out of asanas (yoga postures). I hate being late and interrupting, but sometimes it happens due to scheduling conflicts and traffic.
Anyway, a student in the front made eye contact and waved me over to join the space next to her. She quietly moved her mat over so I could squeeze in between her and the gentleman on the other side. She was so friendly and welcoming! I hadn't seen her before, yet she acted like she expected me and had known me for years. She made me feel so welcome and loved.
The whole experience made me think of the classes I teach in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Often these classes are equally as packed, yet sometimes students don't budge. They act as though they have claimed their territory, like wolves fighting for survival in the wilderness. They sometimes don't want anyone nearby, especially if they have a “regular spot,” as though they’ve paid rent for that 3X6 ft space on the floor.
I hope most people are just unaware that anyone else walked into the room, but I know that’s not always the case. These territorial tendencies are common, yet they fly in the face of yoga teachings. In the Yoga Sutras, we learn about Aparigrapha (non-possessing) and the importance of simple acts of human kindness.
I'm often guilty of thinking kindness is the same as not acting violent or angry toward anyone else. But in reality, I know that’s not enough. I need to do more, and so do you.
So, can you go out of our way to help a stranger? Can you be kind in rush hour traffic, hold the door for the people behind you, or make room for your fellow yogi in a packed class?
I hope we can all go above and beyond to help others feel loved, appreciated, and welcomed where ever we go!