Among my yoga students, class attendance varies by person. Some never miss a class. “Yoga is the highlight of my weekend,” one regular tells me. Others want more classes offered, so that they can attend frequently, even daily.
Some want to come, but can’t help occasionally sleeping in. Others must juggle yoga with family commitments. One college student confided that she’s missed classes when she feels blue.
My attitude toward classes has changed over the years. Initially I was like my second example: the more, the better. Most beginners need the impetus of class to get going. Yoga = yoga class. Over time, especially after I established a home practice, I got pickier. That said, I still find it enlightening to try a variety of teachers. “Truth is one, paths are many,” as I’ve heard one say.
Finding solitude in a crowd
Beyond the teaching element of classes, I appreciate the subtle “people factor” of yoga classes. I’m talking not about socializing (I’ve never done yoga to “meet people” or to”make friends”; those are accidental and rare fringe benefits), but a more-subtle interaction.
Years ago, three years in my yoga practice, my life did a 180, personally and professionally. By choice. But it was tough going for a while. I hated being alone around sunset. Mornings and nights were busy and routine-driven, but that slow shift into dusk struck me as brutally melancholy. I needed to escape the house.
While I wanted company, I was also loathe to talk to people, even friends, perhaps especially friends, who might ask questions and try to help. I needed to process things in my own head.
So I started attending early-evening yoga classes. I experimented with new teachers, new classes. No one knew me (what a relief!). Yet the setting felt familiar: removing shoes at the door, unrolling my mat, listening to instructions, hearing asana names, simply following with no obligation to speak.
I was alone, yet not alone. That, to me, is another valuable part of yoga classes, the solace of silent camaraderie.
Related post: The meaning of retreat