When our yoga room is at full capacity, we practice mat to mat. And it’s awfully tight. Students have to be especially respectful of other people’s space, property and energy. Otherwise it can make for a distracted, frustrating and claustrophobic class.
I was recently practicing within inches of another yogi, when it came time for the standing series. As usual, the instructor suggested we stagger horizontally, so as not to fling sweat or accidentally clip the person next to us.
But the woman to my left wasn’t paying attention. She just stood there, hands on hips, chugging water. And in that moment, I could feel the controlling instinct inside of me welling up. I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say, just walk towards the mirror, lady. It’s not that hard.
But she still wouldn’t move. It was driving me crazy. To the point of anxiety and paralysis.
How many times have we all been in that same position? Waiting around for somebody else to take the first step before we move? It happens every day. Not just in yoga, but off the mat as well. What keeps us stuck is the belief that someone else needs to change before we can move forward. That others should align with our implicit expectations, rearranging their existence around our requirements for happiness.
Unless we remind ourselves that people are not here to meet our expectations. Only through taking action do we reduce the intensity of the problem. And so, instead of making so many unbalanced, burdensome demands on others, we learn to take our own action. To readjust our own posture and position and move closer towards our goals, while granting others the space to do the same.
It works in yoga, it works in business, it works in marriage, it works everywhere.
What expectations do you have that lead to fear and caution?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.