Not so Awesome and a look at the Newbies

One of my least proud yoga moments of all time. Are you ready for it?
Several years ago, when I was in my first teacher training but before I was a teacher, I went to class at my studio. Class was in the smallest studio of the 3 and I spread my mat, like the pro that I was, in just about the center of the room. A few other students were already there so I pretty much monopolized the entire space that was left over. I was early, as I often was, so I sat down and did whatever thinking or breathing I did while waiting for the teacher to come.
A few minutes passed and another woman came into the room. I sat on my mat and somewhat looked away. She stepped tentatively a little closer to me. I did my thing where I pretend not to see someone.... though in that studio it is impossible not to see someone enter. I thought to myself: "I'm not gonna move over, unless she asks me to. She can go to the other row." She stood there and waited.
She sighed a deep, disheartened sigh. (I can hear it now, the heaviness, the uninvitedness, the frustration)
It sent a shock wave through me.
She looked at me and said: "Could you....."
Total shame, embarrassment, and disappointment in myself.
Oh. My. God.
Oh. My. God. Of COURSE I could move my mat over!! What had I been thinking?
I nodded. "Mmm Hmmm." I played it off like I'd not been paying attention. Maybe I really was aloof.
I wasn't. I was just plain being mean. Being mean just to be mean and maybe even to pump up my ego in my status as a teacher trainee. It was so not cool.
Since that moment I've been much more keenly aware about making sure to make space for others and try to hold it when I'm in classes anywhere. That meanness didn't help anybody that day, but at least it woke me up.
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This time of year a lot of us try to make a leap into something new and different. Something a friend or loved one swears by. We try to go to the gym or to take a new yoga class. It's intimidating, but we want to feel better. It's scary, we don't know anybody and just to try something new with this old body feels like an insurmountable obstacle. Touching our toes, forget it!
This time of year on the other side, new people bust their way into our yoga classes and take our "spots". They fill up our gym machines and hog our favorite teachers' attention. It's annoying, but those of us who are the experts, who've been here a while, we've seen a few new year's folks come and go. We're betting the Resolutions will be gone by February and class will get back to normal. Until then it's comical to watch them try, and it's nice to have someone to compare ourselves against.
You know, I just wonder if we aren't part of the reason that some of the Resolutioners don't stick around.
Ever heard how mean people are at the gym... how stuffy and uninviting people were in the new yoga class your friend tried? {'really?' you say. 'they're always so nice there!} I mean, I don't want to stick around somewhere where I don't feel welcomed and encouraged. Where people give me mean looks, don't move over for me, and I can feel myself being judged.
I don't know. I think this time of year is a good time to watch ourselves in the midst of the influx into our yoga classes. To watch and see how the buttons are pushed and to take note if the yoga is actually working. I mean, can I actually move my mat over before I'm asked next time, shake hands with the new girl walking into the space, and keep my mind on my own practice without a giggle at the expense of another (even an internal giggle)? How hard could all of that be? Probably harder than I think. But worth a shot.
The best part is, by making space (physically and emotionally) in the class for the newest members I might just be making space for my new best friend. I might just be giving that person the inroads to an amazing transformation that would have been missed if I were the same mean girl I was a few years ago. Or, she might still never come back. And my practice will go on either way, but at least I made a dent in my own mean habits.
Elizabeth Fuqua