Your mat or the front door? Why you should stay. Even if your beloved yoga teacher is away.

I wanted to curse back. I really did. Yep. Even yoga teachers get pissed. I didn’t, of course, as my commitment to ahimsa (non-violence) kicked in before any four letter words flew. But what happened in between concluding my own class, and checking students into the one that followed, got my blood boiling to a degree that nearly sent me into Ninja mode. I won’t say when it happened, or where, because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what I learned from the experience, and how I circumvented a primal instinct to lash out. Instead I breathed, paused, and chose to see a human being across the desk from me instead of a vulture. I’m no angel either. Thank you Yoga.

But dammit anyway.

Teaching at YogaSoul Princeton. 2013.

Teaching, 2013.

She blitzed in two minutes past class start time, scanned her class tag in the system, and, upon learning the class underway wasn’t being taught by her favorite teacher, recoiled. An audible gasp, accusatory ‘how dare you!” narrowed eyes, and full on tantrum ensued. Others nearby caught her ugly drift and likely spent their first breaths of class exhaling her bullshit out. All because a sub was teaching the class. Fortunately the teacher was in the studio and away from the ridiculous scene unfolding before me. Inwardly seething, I outwardly responded as calmly as I could: “Your mat or the front door? Decide now, please.”

“You should update the website sooner! I come all this way to get here!”

But here’s the thing. You haven’t traveled nearly as far as the teacher inside the studio waiting for you. Or any of the teachers who’ve dedicated themselves to mastering an art form that no matter how hard we try, aren’t going to please everyone. The teacher inside has journeyed through endless trainings, extra work shifts to pay for those trainings, bumpy hills and valleys and countless teeth-chattering, nerve-wracking first year classes grooming her chops so that she can show up trained and prepared to support you and all the baggage you bring into the space every time you choose to stay.

Is that someone you really want to walk away from?

I’ve been subbing classes since my early 20s. High impact aerobics, belly blasters, bootcamp basics, yoga, you name it. Goes with the teaching territory. And if I had let the not-so-subtle reactions of disappointed students pining for their favorite teacher instead of me get into my head, I’d have thrown in the gym towel long, long ago. I understand it’s human nature to get disappointed when a favorite teacher isn’t there as planned. Especially when I’ve arranged my day around a favorite class. But someone stepped in to show up for me. And to turn around and walk out the door isn’t the answer. Think about it. Here’s what you’d be walking away from:

  • A healthy time out for yourself. To get fit. To get real. To get out of your head and into your body.
  • A chance to support another teacher. A teacher you might actually love, and learn something new from.
  • A calmer drive home. One not laced with four-letter words and frustration over missing a class you’d intended to get to otherwise.
  • Appreciation and support for your favorite teacher, who can take a needed day off with zero guilt over no one showing up for their sub.

I don’t recall whether she left or stayed. But I did. I took that class and it ROCKED. God love our subs.

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