Stretching Oneself

abellew_headshotI practice yoga about 3 times a week to help me slow down and focus and keep flexible. It’s meditative time to tune into breathing and calm my mind. I enjoy the soundless communal energy and support of the class environment too.

The other morning, well into class, a wide-eyed, harried woman arrived about 10-15 minutes late. Because class was full, the only space available was in the very front center.  Loudly, flip flops slapping, she made her way through the sea of yoginis to the middle of the room. Along with yoga paraphernalia, her arms were full of every electronic device imaginable – laptop, tablet, phone – plus a tangle of charger cords. With a flurry and loud thud, she dropped her mat in the center of class. Then, audaciously and without hesitation, she flip-flopped, electronic devices in tow, to the very front of the class past and behind the instructor where she searched the walls for suitable electrical outlets.  Not satisfied, she then flip-flopped herself and her electronics back past the instructor, through the middle of the class to the very back of the room where she continued her search for outlets.  After a few minutes of extended commotion, she finally finished and flip-flopped her way back to her spot to join the class.

All the while, I was increasingly dismayed and indignant. How rude! How disrespectful!  We’re all here for the tranquil, mindful, spiritual practice of yoga and this woman is being completely self-centered and impolite. She is disrupting the class with her self-centered focus on electronic devices, which is the complete opposite of all that yoga is. And for the rest of class, I struggled to clear my mind of ruminations over her offensive behavior.

At the end of class, while others were rolling up mats and reinstalling footwear, the yoga instructor walked up to the woman, said something in greeting, then gave her a big hug. What? How could the instructor be friendly and not annoyed too?

Then the light bulb clicked on. Whoa! The irony of my own reaction began to sink in. The instructor knew from this woman’s body language and behavior that she needed kindness and compassion. I had chosen to judge the woman’s behavior and let it fill me with negativity.  My actions were even more out of place in a yoga class than hers.

This yoga stuff really does stretch in all directions. While the physical flexibility aspect of my yoga practice is progressing well, I still have much to learn about spiritual and emotional flexibility. Next time something like that happens, I will mindfully practice the ability to observe action without judgment and send positive energy and compassion to the other person.  Namaste.

-Alyssa Bellew, NUUC Director of Administration

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