What’d I do?
A very strange thing happened to me the other day: I was in class, on my mat, doing my thing like everyone else, and actually doing it better than I normally do (by which I mean not falling on my ass like a drunk penguin 17 times in the first set alone). The person in front of me was not so lucky, and despite/because of * the tremendous effort they put in, they fell out about halfway through.
Now, we talk a lot about not being a distraction to other people when they’re in postures (or savasana), and that’s all very well and good. The flip side of that is also that part of your yoga practice is to try not to let yourself be distracted by other people, no matter how disruptive they may be, and that’s a lot harder than it sounds but it’s still something worth working at. We also say about a million times in the dialogue (especially during the posture in question) “If you fall out, get right back in”. What the person in front of me chose to do after falling, however, was not “get right back in”. What they did was stop, turn around on their mat, and glare at me for a good few seconds. To be clear: They physically turned their entire body around in the middle of a posture and glared at me to my face. Not a dirty look in the mirror (although there were plenty of those after too), but an actual visual expression of anger, directly to my face.
I was shocked. I obviously still am, or you wouldn’t be reading this. I have no idea what I did to upset this person, or how, by simply standing on my mat doing a posture as directed by the teacher, I managed to cause them so much angst that they felt a need to express it like that. The obvious answer is to suspect that they somehow blamed me for falling out of their posture, but of all the times I’ve blamed someone else for my own fall (we’re all human), it’s never been because they didn’t fall and their stillness was distracting.
In addition to being shocked, I’m sad. I’m sad that this person came to take class that day, and, for whatever reason, got so little out of it that they let whatever I did upset them to a degree that they did not complete the posture, and spent a good chunk of the class after that point giving me those dirty looks in the mirror. I’m also sad that apparently I somehow upset someone enough for this to happen, and spent the rest of the class alternately trying not to let it bother me and wondering what it was I did, and how I can do better next time.
Ultimately though, this person taught me a great lesson. I’d always understood the idea of not letting distractions distract me, and I’d always dismissed it as an idea my ADD-riddled brain would never be able to achieve in practice. But staying in that posture, even with the person in front of me turning around and glaring like that, showed me that not only can I do it, it apparently needs to be a much bigger part of my practice and is maybe the thing I need to work on most right now rather than any one particular posture (but please don’t all start glaring at me in class).
*There are two schools of thought about falling out of postures. One says that if you’re falling out, it’s because you’re trying new things and making breakthroughs. Another says that if you’re falling out, it’s because you’re overthinking it. My experience is that they’re both right and it just depends on you and your practice in that moment. What the deal was with the person in this story, only they know.