One of my biggest pet peeves at the gym is people who come into class late. It probably bothers me so much because I am a teacher, and it bugs me when students arrive to class late -- even when I was a student, I could seen that late arrival was a disruption. Same holds true in the classes held at the gym. Maybe I'm just uptight about being punctual, I don't know, but it really bothers me (my parents are very punctual people and we were always five minutes early to anything we ever did). Especially during yoga.
Yoga is not like spinning or an aerobics class where you can come in a little late and catch up with the class. It is a practice that is very much about unity, and it requires a certain state of mind to help each individual make the most of the time there. Inevitably, people are late though, usually just a few minutes, but their shuffling to get a mat and settle into their spot is disruptive, but I can usually shake it off. But today's class was really bad.
Two people came in about two or three minutes late, not so bad, and the instructor was just getting us settled and focused on our breath. Then, two more walk in at five after. Several people were visibly pissed at the late comers, but the instructor was talking about grace and acceptance in our lives and as a part of our practice, so everyone had to pretend as though they were accepting of the lateness and willing to accomodate those who were noisily shaking out their mats. But then one person came in at ten after, another at a quarter after and a last person at twenty after! (Now, it is my opinion that if you are going to be twenty minutes late, that you just don't go.)
I could tell the instructor's patience was being challenged at this point, but she asked us to make room for each new arrival; however, her own grace seemed to waiver when it became clear that many of these new arrivals were brand new to yoga. The instructor had to break free of her instructions to help with mats, and to help catch them up to what we were doing (if you've never heard of a sun salutation, you are going to be lost if the rest of the class is in the middle of a sequence). The class must be a hard one to teach because is there is often varying skill level, but the instructor is usually very good at creating a routine that is both challenging to those well-aquainted with yoga and approachable for those who aren't. But today, perhaps realizing that the majority of her audience was new to yoga, the instructor took it easy -- too easy for my taste and I never felt challenged in the least, and I could've stretched like that at home.
At the end of class, after relaxation, and we'd bowed and said "namaste" (traditional close to yoga -- for those unfamiliar, it's a show of respect to the instructor and to the others in class and literally traslates to mean "I respectfully salute you"), she addressed the new comers indirectly by emphasizing the importance of arriving on time for the sake of their own practice. I could hear a hint of annoyance in her voice and wondered if she'd truly felt the grace and acceptance she'd spoken of earlier in class. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain the teachings of yoga when people are so damn rude.