Is It Okay To Do Your Own Yoga Thing?
We all know them. That person who comes to a yoga class and does their own thing. Seemingly oblivious to others, they roll out their mat and perform interpretive dance-like moves, marching to the beat of their own drum. Disregarding anything the teacher is saying these “rogue yogis” tend to baffle those around them, and frustrate teachers trying to offer them guidance. They distract people close to them and confuse others who may be new to yoga.
I’ve learned to deal with these types of students in different ways. If they continue to attend class, I get to know them. Chatting with them usually helps me understand why they flow independently. Once a rapport is established, I politely request they try following along. This I reserve for when their movements and sometimes their noises become so disruptive, they unsettle other students. I tactfully point out they are making it difficult for others.
More to the point, when a room full of bodies are all flowing in sync, it’s a beautiful thing to behold and a sacred thing to partake in. When there’s one yogi throwing off the choir-like vibe, it’s like they’re singing g sharp while everyone else is in c major.
I understand the need for individualism, pushing boundaries or in the yoga class context the very real and encouraged need for modifying poses to make sure you’re moving safely. I also understand the simple desire to be around others, enjoying the studio space.
Even so, when someone is willfully caught up in their own world, it ends up breaking a quiet collective agreement; we are here to receive what the teacher has to offer, and gain something from the experience by participating in a group activity. It robs them and those around them of the opportunity to take part in the meaning of the word yoga: UNION.
We are a part of a greater whole and you experience the scintillating yet somehow calming energy of that whole. A desire to honour and preserve it bubbles up from within you. You realize your individual actions are a part of a greater system. By extension, the desire to own your actions may emerge. A deeper sense of personal agency may begin to rise. You become more aware of your uniqueness within the whole. By awakening to your place in the world, your specific role on this planet, you gain a deeper sense of who you are as an individual who is participating in this massive network of nature.
It may seem small and perhaps inconsequential, but I would argue that taking part in a yoga class with respect for those around you, be it fellow students or your teacher, gives you a gift of community. Community which grants us the feeling of connection we all need and crave.
So consider this if you are a rogue yogi. You are not just depriving those around you of peace. You are also robbing yourself of peace and connection. So consider joining in. It won’t hurt you. I promise. If anything, it will help you live well.