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Stay in the room

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Photo by Monica Felix @

If the hardest part about practicing yoga is getting to the room, the second hardest is part is staying there.

Both literally and figuratively.

On one hand, teachers tell students to stay in the room because it’s just good yoga etiquette. The physical act of stepping off of the mat and tiptoeing around other people’s space can become distracting, disrespectful and sometimes even dangerous. Especially if there’s a nice little sweat angel materializing around your mat.

Just stay in the room. I know it’s tempting, but you’ll be fine. Unless it’s a true emergency, there’s nothing out there that’s going to save you. Not the water or the shower or the air conditioning or the cushy bench in the lobby. Everything you came for is waiting for you on the mat. The rest is a mosaic of attachments.

The other thing teachers tell students is to stay in the room mentally. Meaning, try not to spend the entire class planning out your dinner or rifling through your to do list for the rest of the weekend. Otherwise you won’t be present with your surroundings.

I struggle with this version of staying in the room on a weekly basis. To the point that I will start performing the wrong posture and not even realize it until I snap out of fantasy land and notice that I’m the only student still standing up. Woops.

But then I laugh and let myself off the hook and remember that it’s only yoga and nobody’s even paying attention to me anyway. And yet, for the next time, I still hear the mantra ringing in my head.

Stay in the room.

What are the mental obstacles keeping you from being present?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.