I Was Fired From the Facebook Gym for Asking a Student not to Use her Phone During Class. ~ Alice Van Ness

Via elephant journal
on Jul 6, 2012
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Not Zen By ronk53

When the telephone was first invented, some people were annoyed that this technology was now able to interrupt dinner.

Now the phone fits in your pocket and is also a gaming system, alarm clock and personal computer.

It interrupts everything—yoga class, lunch with a friend and sometimes sleep.

Maybe we’ve given it too much power. Does it have so much power over us that it keeps us from connecting in real life?

A few weeks ago, I was teaching my weekly noon yoga class at the Facebook Fitness Center in Menlo Park, CA.

They have a little gym there where I taught a yoga class, in addition to Pilates and cycling classes.

Right before class began, a student was typing on her phone. Noticing this, I asked the whole class to turn off their cell phones.

She obliged, put it down next to her mat, and we began.

Photo: skinny-secret.com

Halfway into class, right as I was starting a demo of ardha chandrasna (half moon pose), she decided to check her phone.

I stopped talking and looked at her.

I said nothing, but I’m sure my face said it all. “Really? Your email is more important than understanding your body? It’s more important than taking time for you? It’s more important than everyone else here?”

Oh, and by the way, she was in the middle of the front row.

She stepped out and rejoined class a few minutes later. Apparently, she had gone to complain to management.

Previously, I had been asked by management to just let the students do whatever they wanted.

Come in late, leave early, answer emails, come in during class to get weights, take photos for the newsletter—whatever came up, I was told to just say yes.

So, on this day, I didn’t actually say anything to this student. I just looked at her with utter disbelief.

Two weeks later, I was fired from the Facebook gym.

I contested the decision at the time since I didn’t actually ask her to leave.

They had already made their decision.

What has happened that work or updating a status is more important than being in the moment? Are we so incapable of disconnecting? What could be going on that couldn’t wait 30 minutes? This is not the emergency room; it’s just Facebook.

The first time I taught at Facebook I started class with a short meditation.

One student was completely incapable of sitting still and closing her eyes for those three minutes. She fidgeted and looked around, visibly uncomfortable with those few minutes of silence. The more she resisted, the more uncomfortable she seemed to become. Her behavior was similar in savasana.

Facebook and all these smart phones have invaded our lives and now we are addicted to being connected via technology. What are we afraid of missing online?

What I have seen over my years of practicing yoga is that technology and being “connected” electronically is depriving us (myself included) of connecting to the present moment.

I welcome my yoga practice as the one place where I don’t have to look at my phone.

I enjoy connecting to my breath and forgetting everything else. It’s a pure time. It’s a much needed break from the stress or drama that is going on.

As the yoga teacher, I want to you experience that break too.

I know you need it, just like a mom knows her three-year-old needs a nap. It’s a little like an addiction.

We can’t stop ourselves. Even when we know it’s not the right time to pick up the phone, we do.

The cost of being constantly connected is high.

When we live a life disconnected to ourselves, it’s living in the surface.

You are constantly on edge, unable to relax and be in any moment as it is.

Plus, it’s very distracting for everyone else in the room, not to mention rude—and it’s vital to pay attention to instructions/demos from your teacher so you can understand the pose better, feel better and avoid injury.

More importantly, yoga is your time to pay attention to yourself. Connect you to you.

The hour or so of disconnecting from the outside is necessary.

Technology invading your peace is not just in yoga class. Start to notice how many times per hour you reach for your phone.

Is something coming up in the silence or stillness of that moment that makes you uncomfortable, or is it boredom?

I encourage everyone to have someplace in their day where there is no television, no phones, no distractions. It may be hard at first but that is where mindfulness begins.

Alice Van Ness is a teacher and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Alice has been teaching yoga since 2006 and practicing since the 1990’s. She enjoys yoga, Pilates, cycling, photography and the ceramic arts. She is currently writing a book about growing up and going to high school in Palo Alto.

She has been trained in the Anusara Yoga method but has not dated John Friend. Alice makes her classes fun, while challenging students to go deeper. She is a humorous, passionate, knowledgeable, and giving instructor. She works with students of all ages and abilities, teaching both children’s and family yoga. Alice has worked with children since she was a teenager and finds them to be a great reminder to stay in the present and have fun.


Editor:  April Dawn Ricchuito

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216 Responses to “I Was Fired From the Facebook Gym for Asking a Student not to Use her Phone During Class. ~ Alice Van Ness”

  1. Jengo says:

    really, it’s like trying to use a relaxation script and work at a telemarketing at the same, stupid… even if you accepted the terms of “tolerate whatever happens” people it’s just stupid…

  2. Shira CKC says:

    Bravo to you for doing good work.
    Your former employers should hear directly (other than this and other related stories being shared all over Facebook) how the yoga community finds their behavior appalling!

  3. Joe Banana says:

    I think the yoga instructor is being immature. The students are your customers and you are there for them, not the other way around. If you had already been councilor to not act this way in the past then you deserved to fired. This wasn’t a stand alone yoga studio, it was the Facebook gym.

    Maybe you should learn some tolerance and join the present.

  4. missbernklau says:

    I think when teaching corporate Yoga, which I have only done twice at one Advertising agency, you have to realize these people are technically still at work, so the work comes first in that situation (That's just how it works. I worked in Advertising for 10 years myself, and no matter WHAT, even when my boyfriend was sent to the ER and I left early to go see him, apparently the work was supposed to come first then, too, which is bullshit)

    Sadly this is the environment in most corporations and businesses, especially in Advertising and especially now in a recession, employers expect their employees to devote more and more of their personal time to work, oftentimes with no over-time pay.

    So I think as a corporate Yoga teacher you have to just expect that people will be in class, with phones, they just don't have a choice, and in that situation you just have to have compassion for these people. Yeah, employers may start Yoga at work for their employees, but they still tell the employees that they can only go to these classes "work permitting". And a lot of people don't bother attending Yoga class at work BECAUSE they know they need their phone there with them (as they're expecting a client call they were supposed to get hours ago…whatever it is, you just don't know), and honestly those are the people that need Yoga the most, people that feel they have no right to practice because they are too busy or have too many responsibilities. Those people need to be welcome in class too. Maybe they "aren't really doing Yoga" in your mind because they have the phone there, but if that's the best they can do in their situation I think it's fair to let them do what they have to do. Other students attending a corporate Yoga class at their job are totally understanding why their co-workers may have to bring a phone…at least that's how they were at my company. They keep the phone on vibrate and if they take a call they go away from the class, no big woop.

    I think if you want to avoid people using their phones in class, it's best for you to teach in a dedicated yoga studio or teach private classes, because in a work environment it's not really fair to expect people to not have their phones, sometimes there are client calls they are expecting and can't miss…and I don't think it's fair to tell those people they can't come to class, especially when clients say "I'll call in 10 minutes" and 3 hours go by.

    In any case I hope your next teaching experience is more suited for you. I don't think it was right of them to fire you, however, they did tell you the deal, that students could "do whatever they wanted". I guess in the future you have to discuss in-detail with your employers what their policies are surrounding what is "acceptable" in class. And I think if you teach corporate Yoga elsewhere, you'd be doing employees a HUGE favor by explaining to employers how important it is for employees to be allowed to take that time to be completely disconnected from their work, allowed to have their phones OFF and far away from them…that would be totally amazing for employers to actually let their employees get the full benefits of taking Yoga at work.

  5. Joe joe says:

    You deserved to get fired. Follow the rules

  6. missbernklau says:

    Argh why did my comment disappear? So frustrating!

  7. missbernklau says:

    Oh…okay…there it is. Whew. Why is the comment thingy-bob so wonky?

  8. Yanek says:

    Yoga is exercise following principles that are in contrast with work and distractions. The teachers seems to teach yoga, the custommer is getting what they pay for; the yoga. If one has the need to make issue of being reminded what they came for, then that person is definitely trying to get something out of the situation that is different from the offer. If you go to shop, you pay for what’s on the menu. If you start complaining about what you have got, then it’s either not what you bought, or you are trying to get something, that is not on the menu. Buying things makes you custommer… And just a custommer.

  9. Katie says:

    Alice, thanks for this post. Sorry to hear you're not at Facebook anymore, but it does sound like the best possible outcome. Yick! I'm so glad I don't work for dotcoms! I was trained in Iyengar Yoga by a beloved teacher, James Moran, who did teach in the corporate environment for a short time before going back to India to apprentice to the master. Blissfully he also was a deep believer in meditation as a key part of yoga practice, and because of him in part, I have actually been able to add meditation and yoga as permanent parts of my life. I still miss him dearly, but if someone in his class at my office had used their cell phone during class, he would have KICKED THEM OUT. Period. Thank God!

  10. MikeP says:

    What I perceive here is two ideas clashing. If you were not Ok with students using their phone in class (which I totally support, btw) then why take the job at the Facebook gym knowing that students could do whatever they wanted? Sounds like Facebook was pretty clear on this, to me anyways. That’s unfortunate that you were fired, but not really surprising. But I think it was for the best – go and find a studio that is more aligned with your beliefs and stances on technology and yoga. Frankly I would not go to that class myself if I knew that people would be using phones and being disruptive. Yoga is for yoga, not for using the phone.

  11. Tanya says:

    I totally support the no devices in yoga policy. But I do not support Alice's actions. People are responsible for their own life. If they decide to come to a complimentary yoga class during a job break with a smartphone and use it, that is their problem. They obviously value yoga enough to show up in class but there is no policy in placed for them to be totally unplugged. I have been following the story and Alice is getting a ton of media exposure. Most people commented on how bad Facebook is. I wish that some of her students/ex-students would be in on this discussion. I want to know how Alice has been in classes besides just this one incident. If she is a knowledgeble, kind and well respected teachers then it is terrible for her to be fired. But if she has an attitude problem and it was not just one glaring look at the student then it was a good thing she was fired. Either way, this is such a great learning moment for Alice, for all yoga teachers and for the future of yoga in the modern world.

  12. Tanya says:

    I totally support the no devices in yoga policy. But I do not support Alice's actions. People are responsible for their own life. If they decide to come to a complimentary yoga class during a job break with a smartphone and use it, that is their problem. They obviously value yoga enough to show up in class but there is no policy in placed to keep them totally unplugged. I have been following the story. Alice is getting a ton of media exposure. Most comments also support having no devices in yoga and many commented on how bad Facebook culture is. I wish Alice' students/ex-students would get in on the discussion. I want to know her as a person and teacher. If she has been a knowledgeable, kind and effective teacher then it was terrible for Facebook to fire her. If she has an attitude problem and it was not just the one glaring incident then it was a good thing she got fired. Either way, this is a great learning moment for Alice, other yoga teachers who have or may experience similar situations and those who decide to keep themselves plugged in during yoga.

  13. […] Desde Facebook declaran que la empresa no tiene ningún vínculo contractual con Alice van Ness y que no son responsables de las decisiones que realizan las empresas con las que externalizan sus servicios. ─Elephant Journal […]

  14. Andie says:

    AMEN. We've become a species of the most interconnected, DISCONNECTED beings on the planet. Technology has a place…and if you respect yourself and others you will know when you need to disconnect!

  15. Addison says:

    Sadly, there are a lot of folks at Facebook who are arrogant beyond their merit. I saw this a Apple in the early days. Folks thought that just ’cause they worked at Apple they were just as smart as Woz. They weren’t. Eventually it hurt Apple very deeply.
    Now the “smart kids” are at Facebook, and some (NOT all) are simply over-entitled primadonnas with very little context or perspective. Sad for them that they lot you, Alice. Worse still, they lost an opportunity to self-correct (een if just a little).

  16. Rebecca says:

    My favorite part of the article is the bio at the end telling us we can keep up with Alice (the author) on Facebook.

  17. Radha says:

    I am currently going to my garden. I will be leaving my phone at home.

  18. Jason says:

    I’ve seen articles about this woman popping up on my news feed for the last few days, and I have to say… i think she probably deserved to be fired.

    As yoga teachers we tend to get into this habit of thinking of what a yoga class should be, and what students should do or not do. This yoga teacher has to remember that she is teaching in a private gym, and if the owners have said this behaviour is okay, then it’s okay…. it does not matter what yoga is supposed to be in her mind. Instead of nagging at people about their phones, influence their views with your teaching. Don’t centre students out during class, that’s not very welcoming, friendly, or yogic for that matter. Weave lessons into your class about letting go, about slowing down, about being mindful. Eventually those students will figure it out from your lessons, and they’ll be more focused on the class. Yes, it would be ideal if there was a rule enforced by the gym that no phones come into the class… but that isn’t the case, so teach yoga instead of being a nagging Nancy (no offence to Nancy’s out there)

    Even when she talks about the one student that couldn’t sit still during meditation… really? You’re going to complain about a student that isn’t comfortable sitting still? Has she only been teaching amazingly advanced students to be shocked by a person in this day and age that can’t handle sitting still?

    the best yoga teachers i have ever had are not the ones that nag, or freak out at students over things like phones. They are the ones that approach every situation with kindness/love, and instead of telling people what yoga is, they TEACH people what yoga is, there is a very big difference.

    Sorry, i don’t mean to nag/bitch, I just find as yoga teachers we sometimes get a little snobby about what yoga is…instead of remembering why we teach yoga, or even how to actually teach yoga, not just asana.

  19. Matt says:

    I wouldn’t want to be a part of a yoga (or any fitness class) that allowed cell phones to be used during instruction. It’s simply distracting and at times, not safe.

  20. KathyK says:

    I'd really like to hear from the OTHER members of the Yoga class that were there that day. Had I been one of those, I'm 100% certain I would have also given the texter the 'stink eye' (if not said something outright) for disrupting MY time. The yet unamed woman could have simply and quietly left the room BEFORE tending to her cell phone, and then quietly rejoined later if she wished. If the Facebook employee wanted or needed to be somewhere else, doing something else she should have left. She was NOT a prisoner in the class, but supposedly a willing participant. She needs to grow up and act like an adult with some basic manners and common sense, because trust me, it wasn't just the teacher thinking 'REALLY??', it was also the other people around her! Then she compounds that rudeness with a complaint to management? Wow. The horrible and ironic thing is, this woman will probably rise to the top of the corporate heap, and be despised by all who work for or with this childish tattle-tale. Oh wait … no one else will complain about a woman with enough power to get YOU fired if you even look at her funny.

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      Sort of the future Anna Wintour of high tech, instead of fashion …. as they say in Paree: quelle garce!

  21. Christ says:

    All you have to do is BOTCOTT FACEBOOK. Its a boring site anyway. Get a life people. What happened to respect for other people. Its like being is a Restuarant and someone next to you is talking real loud on there cell phone. Have respect. If a student did that in any other class they would be expelled.

  22. neil galland says:

    Facebook is a cell phone in the Yoga class of life.

  23. Joanne says:

    As a yoga instructor and being fully aware of FB rules you went against your principals and beliefs and took this job as basically a "workout" instructor and were surprised when they did not conform to your ideals. In the future you should work for a company that understands the true meaning and values of yoga. Namaste!

  24. alistair cockburn says:

    Congrats to you for asking people to put away distractions during your class. A friend of mine uses this scale… are you more like a doctor or a waiter? You don’t tell the doctor what tests you want, you listen and get told. OTOH, the waiter’s job is to get you whatever you want. As a yoga instructor, you are more like the doctor than the waiter, never mind what these other commentators have written. so congrats to you. stay on the doctor side of the scale. Alistair

    • swimmer says:

      It's perfectly OK to ask your doctor for a certain test. They don't know everything, just like a waiter. Maybe reconsider your analogy. It's perfectly alright and appropriate to ask both a doctor or a waiter for something that you want, be it a test or a torte. For best results, use please and thank you.

    • cathy says:

      oooohhh I tell my doctor which tests to run. <i know my body. I research a lot. I am offended by this generalization. I realize you are making a point re prioritizing but you missed the mark.

  25. […] basing my opinion on events as described in the San Francisco Chronicle’s article and her post on elephant journal) was that she felt it appropriate to enforce a policy—that in a single moment—completely […]

  26. Aquayogini says:

    2 things:

    When attending a yoga class, when the teacher tells you to take downward dog as a pose, do you go into a handstand instead, just because you feel like it?

    Using a cell phone in yoga class is not ok, just like it is not ok in a cinema, at a wedding, a funeral. Why? because it's disturbs those around you. That you can multitask on a yoga mat is great, but that does not mean you have to do that at the expense of others.

  27. Gypsy says:

    I am 21 years in Barkan class. We respect the class and our teacher and behave accordingly. I have seen a phone on vibrate to receive an important call and, the student will leave the room. This happens rarely, as the very idea of yoga has taught us to cherish this time to focus on the posture and stay present.

    Go and teach where the staff and students actually want a yoga class.

  28. […] geäußert, aber bin mir sicher, dass mein Gesicht alles gesagt hat”, hält Van Ness in ihrem Blog fest. Schließlich war es nicht Facebook, sondern das Unternehmen Plus One Health Management, das […]

  29. […] not appropriate,” Van Ness said in explaining why she shot the student a stern glance. “It’s time to pay attention. I’ve even hurt myself in that pose. … I […]

  30. Jenny says:

    I see agree with Alice Van Ness's point — to a point. HOWEVER she may have overlooked very legitimate reasons people need their cellphones on and available during yoga practice.

    In my case, I am one of 12 volunteers for my union's crisis hotline, and when it's my turn to be on call, it's 24/7 for a whole week. We are going through very challenging times at my company, and that phone call might be a coworker contemplating suicide. I need to answer their call for help — RIGHT NOW. In addition, I am now a caretaker for my elderly mother and if she or my elderly father needs help, I need to know — RIGHT NOW.


    So, please try to empathize with the needs of some of us who really need our yoga practice, very badly, but who need to stay connected to the outside world at the same time. Because I DO respect the yoga practice, the yoga teacher, and the other yoga students. But this might be a life-and-death phone call that I need to take.

    Thank you– Namaste–

  31. @roCkerChick says:

    I don't think this teach was whining. I don't even thinks she was judging the student that couldn't be still. It was an observation. We lead such active and always connected lives that it's easy to be unable to be still. I've let people come into class late. I'd actually feel awkward telling a student they couldn't come to class. They made the effort and made it there, who am I to tell them no. If they haven't had a chance to start from scratch that's ok, their practice is their own. They may not be a open in the hips because they missed some warriors and pigeons, but so what! You don't know how much being on that mat in that room at that time can help them.

    As for the phone thing, I'd ask everyone to turn phones to silent. if there was an emergency please quietly exit the room before answering a phone. But yes, this class is the time and space to unplug. Neo, you're not in the Matrix anymore!

  32. Jenny says:

    I see agree with Alice Van Ness's point — to a point. HOWEVER she may have overlooked very legitimate reasons people need their cellphones on and available during yoga practice.

    In my case, I am one of 12 volunteers for my union's crisis hotline, and when it's my turn to be on call, it's 24/7 for a whole week. We are going through very challenging times at my company, and that phone call might be a coworker contemplating suicide. I need to answer their call for help — RIGHT NOW. In addition, I am now a caretaker for my elderly mother and if she or my elderly father needs help, I need to know — RIGHT NOW.


    So, please try to empathize with the needs of some of us who really need our yoga practice, very badly, but who need to stay connected to the outside world at the same time. Because I DO respect the yoga practice, the yoga teacher, and the other yoga students. But this might be a life-and-death phone call that I need to take.

    Thank you– Namaste–

  33. Ron Zalko says:

    Hi Alice, I think you did the right thing. This woman in question was rude, disrespectful and self absorbed. She showed complete disregard for you and the other members of the class. You are my hero! If you ever come to Vancouver, BC look us up.
    Yours in Fitness,
    Ron Zalko

  34. Jle says:

    What has happened here is a lack of respect for other peoples time. Whether the instructor looked at her or not or whether she said something to the ignorant student or not….. There is one truth and that is the lack of respect for other peoples time. You wanna talk on your phone or update your status or answer a text as long as its not an emergency then get out of the class. I don’t practice yoga but if I was in a group fitness class and I’m trying to focus on the routine and someone decides to check their phone constantly and especially in front of me I would definitely say something. I agree with the instructor of the yoga class 100%

  35. Geekized says:

    I totally agree with Alice's position here. What is the point of going to a yoga class (or any other situation where you must unplug yourself from technology to have a "real" experience) if you're just going to look at your phone every three seconds? The Facebook employee who made the complaint should look inward and figure out why her perceived self-importance trumps everything and everyone around her.

    As you can see by my username, I am a geek. I work online and I communicate online. For the most part, I love it, however, every so often, I"ll step away from the computer, sometimes for days, and just soak in real life. And sometimes I just need a little solitude, as well. Don't we all?

    Alice, I hope a new job opportunity comes your way soon. Truly, you were too good for the Facebook crowd and it's their loss.

  36. dl123 says:

    Why didn't you just let her check her phone. Doesn't yoga teach you to have balance and to find a peaceful center? Perhaps, you were too imposing with your stare.

  37. cathy says:


  38. Edward Staskus says:

    If that had happened in a Bikram Yoga class, which I can't really imagine happening, because I don't think anyone is even allowed to bring a phone, an iPod, iPad, laptop, or anything else into the hot room, but if it did, the cell phone and its owner would undoubtedly have been told in no uncertain terms to leave the class, and afterwards told to never let that happen again. I cannot see a Bikram teacher putting up with that kind of interruption.

    Why would you even bring a device to class?

  39. […] nada a la estudiante. Solo la miré con absoluta incredulidad”, relató Van Ness en un blog (que puedes leer aquí). Especialmente porque la misma alumna, tecleando en su teléfono cuando comenzaba la clase, había […]

  40. KPayne says:

    I am glad this has made national news, just so people can examine how out of touch most people are with the purpose of a yoga class, AND how important it is to teach and learn in an environment that supports your beliefs. Alice was told from the get go to let everyone do what they want, and so her power as a teacher was essentially removed. Imagine a college professor or public school teacher being told, "let the kids do whatever they want". By staring down a student, she did not use words, but the communication was clear – and most likely embarrassed the student, which caused the student to defend herself. Teachers need to meet students where they are, and if teachers sign up to teach in an environment where anything goes, they need to work with that. I am not unsympathetic, because teaching yoga since 2006 means (IMO) you are a new teacher. This is a big lesson, and while I support Alices views on just about everything she wrote, I am not surprised she was "fired" – as in "fire" as in tapas.

  41. […] Ness claims in a blog post that she offered a stern look of disapproval. No words, not even a […]

  42. Lori says:

    …or maybe just lead the class and not have an attachment to how your teachings are received?

  43. Drew says:

    If you told one of Pavlov's Conditioned Dogs (play along) not to salivate when you ring a bell, what would happen when you rang that bell during the "dog yoga" class?

    This woman's reaction to her mobile device *might* have been beyond her conscious control and awareness. Your "stink eye" snapped her back to reality, but her reality seems like one of ignorance and self-entitlement, so she complained.

    I think a good yoga business would tell her: "You have two options 1) strike one, you have two more and then you will no longer be welcome at our business per our membership agreement 2) we offer a special class for people who are struggling to disconnect themselves and/or may not understand yoga as we value it (i.e. not a fad exercise.with fashionable pants). I hope you'll consider the later option."

    That said, Facebook offers yoga to retain employees to maximize shareholder profits. That's it. You should have known what you were getting yourself into.

    At Twitter I hear they ask you to tweet each pose as you make it…

  44. Noelle says:

    Read Sherry Turkle's Alone Together book about how technology is affecting our relationships.
    YES we can put down that phone and go to yoga class fully present. Can't we?

  45. jafaramiratiyeh says:

    Nice article, Alice! I was just talking with my brother about the loss of presence to technology. We are so busy tapping into the the whole world inside the screens in our hands, that we are not attuned to the person or moment directly before us. There are always punches we have to roll with as teachers in different environments…in a yoga studio compared to a corporate office – we can simply expect a different atmosphere. I trudge through this teaching in the juvenile halls, with walkie talkies going off and even the potential of a facility wide lock down in the middle of class! If we, as teachers can not take anything personally, go with the flow and remain calm in the midst of whatever arises – we teach by example. We show them it IS possible to unplug for 60 or 90 minutes…though they may or may not ever do it. We can only offer a mirror

  46. Donna says:

    when yoga first came to me, I experienced such an emotional healing, thus, I teach yoga as a healing tool. I feel resposibile to make the classroom a safe and peaceful place for others to receive healing themselves. The use of cell phones in class, has nothing to do with me as the teacher as much as i am thinking how they will distrub other students. especially if they are new and are just beginning to work with their "monkey mind".
    I understand that things happen during class… and thats fine.. I can go with the flow. But it is not unreasonable to ask that cell phones be turned off or put on vibrate during a class.

  47. at says:

    It is quite appropriate to disallow cell phone use in classrooms whether it be Yoga or English or Geometry. It calls for respect for the class content. intent and boundaries.

    In her response to Ms. Alice Van Ness's no-cell phone use rule, Ms. Elena Kotsonis is right that yoga is a fluid practice. But this fluidity does not suggest disrespect for boundaries. Otherwise, it is all a free for all come and go thoroughfare—certainly not what yoga is about.

    At the same time, I wonder if this casualness is a factor of a culture of convenience at all moments with little respect for one's own desire to learn and thereby be present with the requirements of the class. Having said this, it is appropriate for student to request leeway from an instructor in special cases, and I feel Ms. Van Ness would have been compliant given a specific student.


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