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

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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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anonymous Mar 24, 2014 12:24pm

Aw, this was an extdemely nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a good article… but wat can I say… I

hesitate a llot andd don’t manage to get anything done.

anonymous Mar 24, 2014 6:24am

Thanks for finally talking about >I Was Fired From the Facebook Gym for Asking

a Student not to Use her Phone During Class. ~ Alice Van Ness | elephant journal

<Liked it!

anonymous Mar 14, 2014 4:58pm

It’s really very difficult in this busy life to listen news on TV,

so I simply use internet for that purpose, and obtain the

newest information.

anonymous Nov 5, 2012 8:46am

[…] and works incredibly hard in his career, but it seems that whenever we go out for dinner, he always has one eye and one ear on his BlackBerry. I’m thrilled that he’s so driven and committed to his work—in fact, it’s one of the […]

anonymous Sep 15, 2012 10:26am

[…] month my story about getting fired from the Facebook Fitness Center was everywhere. It started with a blog, and then three days later reporters were literally knocking […]

anonymous Aug 23, 2012 11:34am

What to know more? More of my articles here:

anonymous Aug 16, 2012 12:48pm

Dear yoga teacher. You are in USA not India. Here you dare give the evil eye and why be surprised when you get fired. The chick whom you gave the look to, earns 10 times more than you do. She is in a materialist world and believes she is invincible.
You however know better. You know Yoga. Your expectations are NOT high for a yoga class, BUT are high for a yoga class at Facebook. On one hand there in Mysore classes and on the other there is Facebook Gym full of brats.
The issue here is that you are in the wrong environment. These days everyone is a yoga teacher after doing a 200 hour training. I understand you want to make a living but teaching at FB gym will tug heavily at your strings. Either just keep practicing (say next 15 years) and come back and you'll handle it totally differently or find folks who crave the same etiquette as you.

anonymous Jul 31, 2012 7:03pm

As a teacher, you have to be the person who you want your students to be.

A student takes their cue from their teacher.

While you may have a bruised heart due to the lack of income that you lost because of a glare given, subtle behavior patterns can prompt unwanted outcomes.

Some of the oh no she/he didn’t experiences I have had with my teachers. Stopping an invocation mid-sentence because someone was off key. Closing the door in students faces because the class had already started. Telling me that I got my injury because I was to stiff to be practicing yoga. Laughing at someone’s pose. Improperly naming a pose or pranayama technique.

As an alternative teaching tool you could have focused on the other students who were interested in your demo in a loving way and allowed the distraction to be a fleeting distraction. Hope that helps.

anonymous Jul 28, 2012 6:42pm

[…] you are addicted to talking, perhaps you believe that you are being interesting when you go on and on about yourself. However, […]

anonymous Jul 28, 2012 7:21am

Alice I read a lot of responses before I decided to write a response. In analysing how you or other yoga teachers who sympathize with you, the student's point of view is completely ignored. Corporate employment environments are very different from what most yoga teachers will experience in their lives. Sad but true. Very few yoga teachers have had exposure to that existence and that is okay, but just like we do not want to be judged as hippies, why judge others as erratic, out-of-touch-with-themselves technonuts?

If we have not worked a high pressure job, it is impossible for us as teachers to identify with our students in that demographis. The only way to deal with people we do not understand is compassion, genuine compassion. I am not implying you join the rat race, but calling out what her reasons might or might not have been based on your assumptions is not balanced or compassionate in any way. It *is* judgemental. And it is not okay to subject others with our harshness and claim it is okay because we feel our chagrin is justified.

Hard facts:
1. you agreed to FB rules, you broke them, but you are furious because a student did not abide to yours? And for that matter how do you know or presume to know what emplyees are told before a class? Maybe the student was recommended your classes by HR for a 'work-life-balance' program (yeah, the irony), and they were stressed they could not be on call during that time? Maybe their managers demand of them to be on call. In the technology workspace, an emergency can happen anytime and I actually had a friend who was kicked out of a movie theater for taking calls. Difference is, it was not a corporate campus theater, so my employer could not take action against them. Do you think that is what my friend wanted, the humiliation, the feeling that they were chained all the time?

– all training that is offered at tech-campuses is optional, free-will, life-career enhancement, but at the end of the day, work comes first. You fail completely to grasp that. It is fine if you do not agree with that but you cannot gripe about because you do not generate revenue for them, but through them yourself.

2. You were passive aggressive – stopped teaching what you were to give her a cold stare. You might have as well said out those words. You specify your intent, but refuse to take responsibility for your self-justified hostility arguing that you did not verbalize your thoughts.

3. it is not the students who are paying for your classes, it is actually fb, your classes fall in the 'perks' category, so if the other students have a recourse: they can address the issue with HR. Whether you like to hear it or not, it is your ego that created this mess for yourself.

4. It is not so much about the students, it is about the loving heart you have. I would have taken the student aside at the end of the class and asked them how they were dealing with their work, or if something was stressed and then force what I feel a peaceful, wise lifestyle should be down their throats.

5. While you are getting all riled up and spreading the negativity with such heartfelt indignation, I suggest you take to a quite corner and meditate on your own actions and intent.

6. Think before taking employment at a place whether or not you can work with their rules.

7. Stop calling a complete stranger you know nothing about rude and ignorant. What do you think that makes all of us? Phony yogis, just pretending and patting each others back with chakra talk.

anonymous Jul 27, 2012 11:35pm

I work in a very high end resort spa in HI as a massage therapist….many times guests come in for massage or body treatments either alone or as a couple and spend the whole 50 or 80 minutes gossiping about friends or talking on their phones, etc….it's not how i would relax at a spa but im not the client…only providing a service and if the client feels its relaxing to spend their whole massage time checking emails then who am i to judge whether it is or isnt for the guest. I would never give a guest a glare if they decide to do something contrary to what i believe is the "proper" way to receive massage..quiet and dark with soft music….NOT….i think if anybody should have a problem with it it is the other students who are in the class and its their responsibility to take it up with their company..especially if they already told you to let the employees do what they want….ld look for another employer that fits my lifestyle rather that judget the ones that dont…aloha!!

anonymous Jul 27, 2012 11:06pm

That gym really needs to give its head a shake! The whole reason for doing yoga is to put all that other stuff aside for a little while. Anybody who wants to be constantly checking an iPhone should forget about doing yoga. If I was in that class and I found out about that I would go and ask for a full refund and I would tell management why, tell them that firing the teacher is not acceptable they should be expelling the person with the phone. I’m probably more guilty than most of wanting to stay connected with my iPhone however when I’m doing yoga I put it down turn it off because I value that time. If that person doesn’t want to value her time that’s her choice but she should darn well have respect for the other people in the class.

anonymous Jul 26, 2012 10:10pm

Great article Alice! I wonder, the person who let you go – how would they feel to be in yoga class with someone next to them on the phone.

anonymous Jul 26, 2012 9:15pm

[…] 5. Don’t text during yoga class (unless you work for Facebook). […]

anonymous Jul 19, 2012 11:57am

The unfortunate fact is – you were an employee for Facebook. And if your employer says "anything goes" you follow their rules, and don't create rules that don't fall in line, or you find a new job. It sucks, but that's corporate America for ya.

anonymous Jul 18, 2012 1:40pm

Maybe, that student was a corporate spy, trying to see if you were following rules. I understand that the student's behavior was disrespectfully and distracting

anonymous Jul 18, 2012 12:53pm

[…] […]

anonymous Jul 18, 2012 11:54am

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.


anonymous Jul 18, 2012 5:32am

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.

anonymous Jul 17, 2012 4:26pm

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

anonymous Jul 16, 2012 1:44pm

[…] […]

anonymous Jul 16, 2012 12:59pm

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?

anonymous Jul 16, 2012 6:42am

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…

anonymous Jul 15, 2012 1:27pm

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

anonymous Jul 14, 2012 10:28pm

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

anonymous Jul 14, 2012 8:30pm

[…] […]

anonymous Jul 14, 2012 4:27pm

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.

anonymous Jul 14, 2012 11:29am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Jul 14, 2012 9:17am

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?

anonymous Jul 14, 2012 7:39am


anonymous Jul 13, 2012 9:37pm

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.

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 7:59pm

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.

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 5:13pm

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%

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 1:50pm

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

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 1:33pm

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–

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 12:29pm

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!

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 10:54am

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–

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 9:25am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 4:52am

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Jul 13, 2012 12:47am

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.

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 10:38pm

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.

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 7:58pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 6:34pm

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

    anonymous Jul 13, 2012 11:25am

    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.

    anonymous Jul 14, 2012 7:37am

    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.

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 5:46pm

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!

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 10:14am

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

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 9:42am

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.

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 7:02am

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.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2012 11:31am

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

anonymous Jul 12, 2012 2:14am

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.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 11:10pm

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.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2012 6:30pm

    You are so right, Jason. Nicely said.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 7:46pm

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

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 7:30pm

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

    anonymous Aug 2, 2012 12:45pm

    I have no issue with FACEBOOK the site, the gym was run by Plus One.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 4:19pm

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).

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 3:31pm

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!

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 2:43pm

[…] 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 […]

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 1:03pm

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.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:18pm

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.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 11:56am

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.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:41am

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!

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:32am

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.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:04am

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

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:03am

Argh why did my comment disappear? So frustrating!

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:49am

You deserved to get fired. Follow the rules

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:48am

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.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:42am

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.

    anonymous Mar 18, 2013 11:53pm

    They are not her customers. The teacher is not less than the students and vise versa.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:41am

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!

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:14am

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…

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 1:09am

[…] […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:58pm

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

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:47pm

This is unfortunate for Ms. van Ness, and I wish her success in her future endeavors, but I must admit I wholly disagree with the thrust of her main argument.

No real yogi looks at the world and goes, "Wait, this doesn't suit me. I need it to change to suit my needs!" The world is a mess; it's always been a perfect mess. It is your job to work within the existing constraints with courage, strength and open-hearted devotion to the practice itself. Your job is not to control the environment, because that is a fool's errand.

There will always be texters, a-holes, stinky folks, freaks, ego-driven poseurs, damsels eager to parade their Lululemon gusseted-crotch pantaloons and other flakes who show up for class without no other purpose than to later tweet "OMG I just went to yoga!" Barring that, there will always be a leaf-blower or a jackhammer operating at ear-splitting level just outside, or a power outage, or no fresh towels, or someone who farts, etc. etc. etc.

Maybe one could say that the corporate environment is a perfect setting to practice proper yogic behavior..

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:57am

    Brillian and very well stated. Yes, the corporate environment is a perfect setting to practice real yogic behavior.

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 2:45pm

    OMG, somebody's not a 'real yogi' on the internet!

    Dude, no "real yogi" would say what a "real yogi" does. Having been a few real yogis I should know.

    Seen rom another perspective she worked with courage, strength and open-hearted devotion to the practice by following her instinct and not the rules set out by her employer.

    The internet is a perfect setting to practice proper yogic behaviour, don't you all agree.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 11:01pm

      Your comment about "not following the rules set by the employer" reminds me of that famous Sri Ramakrishna parable:

      A young disciple had just learned from his guru that God is in all beings and thus he should bow before them all.

      Drunk on this epiphany, he sees an elephant coming toward him. "I am God and the elephant is God in another form," he thinks. So he stands there respectfully bowing while the elephant's mahout screams at him, "Get out of the way! Get out of the way!"

      The disciple doesn't, and is predictably tossed aside by the elephant, and left in the dust bruised and confused.

      He runs to his guru in great physical and mental anguish: "You have taught me that God is in all beings and that we should bow before all of them! I met the God in the elephant, bowed to him, and he tossed me aside!"

      "Yes, dear," says the guru, "God is in all beings. So why the hell didn't you listen to the voice of God coming from the mahout?"

      ..Such is when Facebook is your employer, too!

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:41pm

@Cathywaveyoga, you re right! Alice managed to get 3 articles published at the same time. That is some karma. Huf press and sf gate article are pretty one sided. This article exposes Alice herself and not so much FB. I hope FB does not take legal issue with her.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:39pm

I agree with Alice. I am a yoga teacher. I have been practicing for almost 10 years, and teaching for 3. I teach in a gym environment, and often people who come are new to yoga, or maybe just don't want to pay the money to go to a studio. I do feel that part of me teaching yoga, is also teaching people that you need to disconnect and learn to be present. I make the exact same request to my large classes, that they silence or turn off cellphones. If I see someone texting or talking on the phone, I might go over to them and tell them quietly to please get off the phone or leave the class. It is inconsiderate to the teacher, and to the people around them. It's not a sixth grade social studies class, and the students in the class are grown adults who chose to be in the class. Now, I understand that maybe someone is expecting an emergency call or something. I have had people explain that situation to me before class, and if their phone rings, they leave. That's fine. I think this Plus One Fitness place should think of it's rules – what happens if someone gets hurt in a class taught by someone they've hired because that person was on their phone?

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:19pm

@Cathywaveyoga, you re right! Alice managed to have 3 articles published at the same time. That is some karma. Huf press and sf gate article are pretty one sided. This article exposes Alice herself and not so much FB. I hope FB does not take legal issue with her.

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:07am

    Info from all 3 seem to be crossing into legal land, where one needs ot be careful. EJ is pretty smart. Many other articles here have had much stronger implications!

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:29am

    hm, you actually sound rather gleefully anticipatory that there will be trouble and she–and others like her—will be muzzled. What has gotten you so bent out of shape about the fact that Facebook's actions might be known to us?

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 10:53pm

Why can't we know the name of this Facebook employee who complained to mgmt?

    anonymous Aug 2, 2012 12:44pm

    I know it, but I don't want to release it to public, its not about her. It's about a wider problem with technology …

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 10:43pm

[…] učiteljica yoge požalila se javnosti u blog zapisu, a Facebookovci su izjavili da ne komentiraju kadrovske promjene drugih kompanija, s obzirom da Van […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 10:08pm

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

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 9:35pm

[…] Ness claims &#1110n a blog post th&#1072t &#1109h&#1077 offered a stern look &#959f disapproval. N&#959 words, n&#959t even a […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 7:21pm

The culture is set by the company, not by instructor. The instructor sets the tone of the class based on cultural rules. This company invited Alice into their world to enhance the environment, not control it. Giving "disapproving looks" is not a hospitable way to treat someone. If you disagree with a policy, seek advice from management. If a company policy indicates that students can have phones or come in late or bring their kids to work, that's their prerogative. If you have a better solution, fair it out with management but don't take it out on your class. Alice missed the point of her role as a leader and a teacher. She knew the rules, but defied them anyway. Be a team player. Don't give "looks" because the class isn't following your rules. Talk to them, understand them – treat them with respect and they will respect you in return. This is disrespectful for start to finish.

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:26am

    omg…..you must work in HR…..civilizations have crumbled with people with mindless obeisance to Authority and Rules.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 6:34am

      I am a dance instructor – a far cry from HR, but I've worked in many environments to understand the challenges on both sides of the classroom.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 7:17pm

It would not give me peace to see a person in a yoga setting texting instead. I would be constantly worried that person would fall over onto me. It is absolutely unacceptable at multiple levels to be that unfocused and completely lacking in common sense much less social grace and respect. I will certainy not recommend Plus One to any business clients if they are in agreement with this behavior.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 7:13pm

[…] A yoga instructor who taught at Facebook’s gym got fired for merely discouraging an employee from checking Facebook during class, she says in a tell-all blog post about the incident. […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 6:26pm

Today with a lot of computer time due to pesonal obligations I have watched this article posted on huf press and sfgate and reposted by more than 3 friends on FB. Huff press had over 90 comments! Comments are split against the teachers' rules not in concert and against the phone user.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 4:49pm

[…] Una maestra de yoga que impartía esta disciplina en el gimnasio de Facebook fue despedida por pedir a un empleado que no entrara a la red social durante la clase, al menos eso es lo que ella dice en su blog. […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 4:47pm

@Tracie, thanks for taking the words out of my mouth.
You go by your emplyer's rules or you can reject the job. Negotiation about policies should be discussed before you accept the job, not after you get fired. In the yoga studios that I teach cellphone use is not an issue. Nobody uses it because that is the studio's rule clear and simple.

While in Ardha Chandrasana, do not stop and stare at the one student paying no attention to you or the class. Go on teaching the other students relying on your expertise and mindfulness. With kindness have a conversation with the one student afterward. Express to her you are concerned about her safety and that others may also have been distracted by her.

Do not propagate divisive thougts or worse bad mouth your employer or students during or after your teaching gig. You attract what you put out. We are one after all. Any yoga teacher should meditate on this and not just preach at others. Yoga is oneness.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 4:27pm

[…] A yoga instructor who taught at Facebook got fired for merely discouraging an employee from checking Facebook during class, she says in a tell-all blog post about the incident. […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:47pm

What happened to "serving your students" and "meeting your students where they are" ?? Good gracious, Alice was teaching in a "high tech environment", she wasn't teaching at an idealic retreat venue.

A glance from Alice can be DEADLY. She's can definitely deplay "attiutude" and it's not always "yogic".

If I were that student, I would have gone to management also. The employer has a right and resposibility for firing 'a contractor" for the bad attitude, whether you believe in device access in class or not.

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 5:50pm

    Oh yes, whenever I get a "DEADLY" look from a female servant, I always go straight to management as beating her is illegal here. I can't stand an uppity female that serious. I mean, gosh, c'mon yo!. If Alice looked at me in a way that implied insubordination, it will be just minutes before she would be in the unemployment line.

    Shagwell, hope to see you at the country club next week. May your life be free of "DEADLY" stink eyes.

      anonymous Jul 10, 2012 6:08pm

      Now, I can't help but laugh … can't suppress it anymore. My bad, but have patience with this late-middle-aged lady . …

      But, then again, I work neither in highly-paid high tech with free lunches and free yoga classes bestowed upon me, and HAVE in the past put up with deadly glances from yoga teachers for whatever (not that I had a cell phone that rang; but I did have a tiny bit of a temper and major ongoing philosophical differences with my teachers) …

      No, no country club. But the teacher is trying to teach YOGA … if I don't like the full meal of a particular devotional, respectful rasa that is presented that is her YOGA, and I can't have just a "snack"; hey, I'm outta that class … taking my cell phone and/or 'tude elsewhere.

      This teacher, with whom I sympathize — cannot empathize, of course; with what I bring to the table — may have a legal case …

      A hearty LOLOLOL ensues (sorry, but it's more at your comment, Ben, than Alice's story) ….

      Believe me, that tiny little part of me that feels abundant right this very minute (that could change)… could empathize with the student–but in my case, engaging my higher order thinking, I'd feel only a little tempted to go to Management … and extremely tempted to take myself and my cell phone to maybe the Zumba class down the hall – because who needs Yoga? … all those rules … get enough of it at the job, lol … let's just say, "Nix" on reporting that teacher, and Yes, she just lost another student, if it were me …

      anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:24pm

      No Ben, you won't find me at the country club, unless it is working there.

      I avoid hanging out with people like Alice that have an attitude and give "stink eye". I know how to keep a job, because I don't dispay attitude.

      Simply put, Alice needs to grow up and learn a few things. Ask Alice how many gigs she's lost because of her attitude. I am pretty sure she's run into this "attitude mirror" before.

        anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:21am

        "attitude mirror" "device access"…..sounds like shagwell's been hittin the corporate Cool-Aid again

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 7:23pm

    AMEN to that! I totally agree! Too many students are turned off by teachers who can't adapt the the environment or the class.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:24am

      heeeeLARious! do you work for Facebook? who are these "too many students"? and….what the heck are you even talking about? that teachers should "adapt the the environment or the class."

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:44pm

In a perfect world, or even an almost-perfect world, it would be great if no one brought in or used their cell phone in a yoga class. Yes, I think it is distracting and I feel badly for those who cannot unplug for 60-90 minutes. That said, I think it's a slippery slope when we, as instructors, begin to assume things about the students in our class. We seem to want to "justify" someone using their phone by qualifying it as only in an "emergency." But what might be an emergency for you may not be that for me. As a yoga teacher, I try really hard to not jump to judgment of my students. Why can't someone sit still for a three minute meditation? Why is it my business? I simply try to hold space for each and every student to experience their yoga, without my expectations. I won't lie–it's not easy. Rather than glaring at the student in question, as the teacher in the article did, I would use it as an opportunity to talk in a broader sense about not reacting to that which we cannot control. Set your drishti, focus on your breath, and witness without judgment. Did it warrant her being fired? Well, perhaps not, but she already stated that Facebook made it clear what their expectations were and she didn't follow them. And yes, I think it lacked a certain ethical fiber to call Facebook out by naming them. She could have easily kept their name out of the issue and simply referred to them as a "well know high tech company" and left it at that. By naming them, it reeks a bit of revenge. And frankly, that sorta sucks.

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:16am

    Please elaborate: what certain ethical fiber is lacking in calling out Facebook by naming them? Is a corporation like Facebook so holy, sacrosanct, or tender that the truth about how they treat their yoga instructors should be kept under wraps….? I am glad to know things like Facebook ends to be quite sexist, or that Google's blue collars workers are placed in a separate building and are not supposed to fraternize with the professionals. Perhaps you don't want to know these things, but it helps me make my own ethical choices about how and where I spend my time and money—how much do I want to reward corporate behavior that disrespects [in this case] yoga instructors? how much might this attitude also inform the designs and designers of the Facebook experience, and their regard for their users? I'm glad to know. Despite what he Supreme Court says, and you may well disagree, I don't go along with the idea that a corporation is a person and shouldn't be spoken about negatively in public.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 5:12am

      A corporation is considered a person and can be sued. This, of course, could be an alternative to all this browbeating, or an ensuing course of action in a case like this.

      Precedents could be set in a real court, not just in "the court of public opinion"

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:36pm

It seems that a lot of people equate asana with physical posture or meditation with mental quiet whereas these are just parts of Yoga, which in itself means integrity. A student must at least be willing and able to follow a teacher's instructions for the duration of a class to get far enough to bring together intent, body and breath.
Some commentators assume that a Yoga teacher simply provides a service like making a sandwich rather than actually intervening in the thought, emotional and physical processes of a student. Americans certainly are an ignorant and opinionated folk spoiled by their own home-made business and marketing thinking.

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:55pm

    Wow … pretty opinionated and judgemental for "yoga teacher". Not to mention insulting. So much for being integrated.

      anonymous Jul 10, 2012 4:54pm

      I do not want yoga teachers intervening my thoughts. I want yoga teachers that respect me enough to let me think for myself and in the process they may just learn something from me. Down with the idea of one sided mind feeding and sheep mentality. Yoga is one and nobody is holier than anybody else.

        anonymous Jul 11, 2012 3:34am

        Rielle, try being one of a piece – get your thoughts, body and breath together. Trying to teach the teacher is a bit conflicted, isn't it?

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 3:32am

      Bitter truth Mr Shagwell, huh? Take a look at yourself in the mirror …

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 9:59pm

    A lot of my fellow Americans are simply spoiled brats who can't stand being told no. Many of my generation were raised in an "impossible to fail" education system which has bestowed on them a vast overestimation of their own importance and capabilities.

    It's bred a pretentious complacency that will hopefully die out in future generations. For now, I think it's no coincidence that a huge number of America's finest minds come from overseas, including India.

      anonymous Jul 10, 2012 10:49pm

      I am an Asian, raised in Asia, hated the backward, abusive, authoritative method there; did poorly in school there because all teachers were completely uninspiring; became a valeditctorian and love learning here in USA. You re the one pretending to know what's it like to learn from the Indians, Andrew or is it Alice?

        anonymous Jul 11, 2012 3:42am

        Hmmmm, dealing with one's past is difficult, Rielle. It does not mean that all you experienced was wrong, may the years bring you remembrance of the gifts you recieved. Yoga does mean discipline, read the first lines of the Yoga Sutra if you like …

        Wishing you true freedom!

          anonymous Jul 11, 2012 1:31pm

          I sure did learn from my past. It gives me a great gift of appreciation for this country and the people who have greatly inspired me. I do not hold a romantic idea of what India or Asian culture is like a lot of western yogis or the yoga fundamentalists. There are many things that I appreciate obviously, that's why I study yoga, buddhism, Taoism.. To me it's not about what I study but how. I know what discipline is. It sure doesn't mean blind faith. Yoga is an experiential discipline. No yoga teacher can feed you the philosophy of yoga and promise you an enlightenment. Wishing you the same freedom!

        anonymous Jul 11, 2012 5:31am

        My comment was about American culture, because that is what I am intimately familiar with. The American university system is excellent, however the public K-12 system here is horrid. This is documented fact if you look at test scores.

        I think it is wonderful that you were able to come here and excel in your studies. Your story is in fact exactly what I'm talking about and I'm unsure why you are directing such venom at me. I am happy that you could experience the opportunity to learn here and wish my own people shared the same level of enthusiasm that you do. Many of them don't; those are the people who truly do not understand how blessed they are here. It is taken for granted and that is what makes them spoiled.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 3:39am

      We could learn so much from each other, Andrew. I feel that the Yoga Yamas and Niyamas are barely touched as a part of Yoga philosophy, where actually they are the solid base of Yoga practice. Commercial Yoga teaching unfortunately, leads to students setting demands and standards rather than the teacher providing an actual path. A case of the tail wagging the dog, quite similar to today's politics and business practices.

      It's good to know that some few Americans are aware of that, may they lead their people out of this infantile mess they call freedom.
      All the very best to you, Namaste.

        anonymous Jul 11, 2012 5:53am

        It is a mistake for any American to think they are automatically free just because they are afforded the opportunity. I have seen many rich spiritual and cultural pursuits diluted in the name of profit, but I can't shake the feeling that we're all a bit poorer as a result. I for one will never stop learning, and you've already given me the start of a new path to pursue with your comments. Thank you!

          anonymous Jul 11, 2012 8:21am

          Are the two of you quite done jerking each other off? Yes? Good. I think you two are the opposite end of the spectrum of those blaming Alice for going against the employment terms. There is a middle ground. Not condescending about how utterly brilliant you and Andrew are and not pooh pooh Alice for working there, either.

            anonymous Jul 12, 2012 12:33pm

            Mark, if you read my first post, you would know that every teacher is right to insist on some basic discipline during class, in my humble opinion.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:24pm

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

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:00pm

[…] […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 2:42pm

[…] and judgment. I’m thinking it may be a lifelong challenge. The teacher was clear with her position. “Really? Your e-mail is more important than understanding your body? It’s more […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 1:19pm

Unfortunately, this is what social networking has evolved into. Facebook and other social networking tools started as a way of connecting with old friends, making new friends, transcending boundaries such as large land masses, religion, and political views. Unfortunately, it has evolved into a tool or altar of vanity and self-importance where posting pictures of yourself drinking at a nightclub or posting your thoughts on how 'hung over' you are, is considered profound. Seeing this behavior on some of my friends, I have jokingly devised a diagnosis aptly termed ISIS (Imagined Self-Importance Syndrome) for people that believe they urgently need to comment on something, 'like' something, or 'retweet' something. Facebook is not that important, neither is any email. If it is a matter of life or death with a loved one, be a grown up, inform your yoga teacher before class, pick a spot close to the back and excuse yourself if the need arises. I am in the medical field and my instructor knows that if my pager or phone vibrates, it's an emergency not because I have the incessant need to broadcast myself. Good for you for sticking to your beliefs.

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 8:28pm

    Being in the medical field John, I would assume you know the peril of making faulty assumptions. How do you know what that person's phone usage was about? Even the writer assumed it was Facebooking, but that's just because the employee works at Facebook. People who work at Facebook have lives too. They have sick relatives, make or break deadlines, other important issues. How can you make a call from this far away? We need more critical thinking in the medical profession, not less.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 12:39pm

Alice, I’m sorry to hear about your experience and hope you find somewhere better to teach!

I do not buy the excuse that there was an emergency going on somewhere, the day that a member of my family is undergoing surgery the one place you will NOT find me is in a yoga class! Ditto if there is an emergency in the office, if something is so important that you can’t leave the issue outside for the duration of the class then you shouldn’t be there. Especially in hot yoga, which is a very challenging class anyway – I wonder had the student ignored or missed instructions and then injured herself whether she would now be trying to blame you?

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:38am

    Right on, Dashinista! I agree wholeheartedly. Maybe technology and the constant access that it enables has lowered our skillset in being able to prioritize. It's still true that a person cannot TRULY do more than one thing at a time. Wtf?! If you have an emergency and need to stay by the phone or otherwise be imminently interruptable, out of respect for others STAY OUT OF YOGA CLASS. Or any other class for that matter. Jeez! Do one thing at a time, people, so that you can do it well and with intention. Have we not seen so many examples, some of them lethal, of what happens when people try to do more than one thing at a time? What's the bloody rush? Are you working to get to the end of your life quicker than everyone else and beat them to the karmic punch? Wha'?

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 12:26pm

Such a short attention spa

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 12:04pm

[…] on two of my fave blogs, it’s all yoga, baby and YogaDork. Also, elephant journal has published a first-person account of the incident from Van Ness […]

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 5:19am

As someone who due to network-density issues, has been nearly reluctantly dragged kicking and screaming into the smartphone era–a few days ago, I find this firing by Facebook (one of the kings of mobile social networking–on smartphones, etc.) almost painfully ironic. Pardon me for barely successfully suppressing a laugh, as I do not think laughs are what you were going for. Facebook does not care about their employees' mental health. I don't care WHAT business they are in … I've been seeing smartphones for about 3 years in my locality and I see people going crazy with headphones and Bluetooths, etc. sometimes.

I hope you find legal representation.

anonymous Jul 10, 2012 12:38am

I agree 100% that Alice should expect those in class to follow her rule of not disrupting class with cell phones. Common courtesy is something we now completely lack as a society. Others in the class likely do not appreciate the disruption and lack of respect for class members who are there to focus on the purpose of yoga. It doesn’t even have to be about yoga, per se. Let’s change the scenario. Should people be allowed to talk, text, play noisy games, etc on their cell phones during a wedding? funeral? church service? high school english class? meeting at work? seminar? movie? play? Etc? maybe doctors can chat with their buddies via bluetooth while performing surgery? We have become so rude as a society, and the fact that peoples’ comments here are actually arguing that Alice had no right to expect people to behave properly just goes to show we are becoming a society to clearly does not give a crap about anyone or thing other than ourselves and a stupid plastic toy. I guess it’s too much to ask that people be respectful and pay attention nowadays.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 7:08pm

Love how this article gets the conversation going. Since some insists that this is about etiquette, is it wise and ethical for a yoga teacher to complain about her ex-employer and ex-students to the public? Who would benefit from this act or rather reaction? Will FB change their policies? Will the two students mentioned improve their behavior? Who actually is benefitting from this public display of retaliation?
Being in a present moment does not equal being spiritually connected nor mentally rested if you are not deeply connected to those around you. If you are connected you would see more similarities between you and those you consider to be physically unaware and spiritually undeveloped. Any challenge you face in life is a mirror reflecting back to you. When you see others as the same there is no problem there is only an opportunity to support one another, learn and grow. Don't let your bruised ego get in the way.

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 9:31pm

    She stands to benefit the most *and be hurt the most* by her article. It's a dual-edged sword, but it's the same kind of self expression any number of us would feel compelled to wield were we dismissed haphazardly. I find it really condescending to refer to this article as mere "complaining, retaliation, gossip" etc when even you note the conversation arising around it. Clearly, several people find her article both pertinent and poignant.

    If I take this article at face value – and I have no reason not to – then I consider it an ethical and courageous thing to do. She's taking a bold stand for values she believes in, and the wisdom in it is that she will very quickly find the right kind of company for herself. Teachers who just want to teach belong with students who just want to learn.

    anonymous Jul 14, 2012 3:29pm


anonymous Jul 9, 2012 3:37pm

I am far more concerned about the inordinate amount of time that teachers spend before class "marketing" the studios' upcoming workshops, classes and services. Their teachers spend an inordinate amount of time marketing their own classes. The studios pack the class space to the gills, and let students arrive late – all in the name of getting the biggest bang for the buck.

On top of this, we need to smile sweetly – or meditate – as yoga teachers prattle on about their personal lives, including things like last night's heavy wine-drinking, their bowel movements and their PMS, and listen as they recite their favorite poetry and aphorisms – as if me and my grandmother actually give a flying fuck.

Yoga teaching in the studios has become a true "vanity exercise," because the ranks of the yoga teacher corps are filled with people largely obsessed with themselves. I have been in classes where the students should have banded together afterwards, gone to the studio management, and asked for their money back.

Yoga consumers are pretty sheep-like, though. It's not the sound of Ommmm that scares me — it's Baaaaaaaaaaa.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 4:41pm

    Yogasamurai, you've won-over my crystal dolphin love heart chakra! Enough of this dewey-eyed nonsense!!

      anonymous Jul 10, 2012 1:02am

      CC — I am an "acquired taste", much like the donkey piss Reingold beer that I learned to quaff as a teenager. A crystal dolphin love heart chakra sounds like something special. YS

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 3:48am

    And what does this lengthy rant have to do with the article, which is not about studios at all?

      anonymous Jul 10, 2012 4:09am

      Whether the onus for problems that arise in yoga studios lies with students – or with the culture of the studios and the mentality of the yoga teachers they employ. Just about everyone else here has touched on this same issue, and my post isn't even close to being the longest one.

        anonymous Jul 10, 2012 6:01am

        I get it. These students also may do or have done yoga, extracurricularly, on their own time and at their own expense–not just under the auspices of the Big Brother High Tech company they work for … the ethics (or lack of same) are very transferable

        Math done!


anonymous Jul 9, 2012 2:06pm

Facebook's rules give you zero authority in your own class, that's not good. sounds pretty much untenable.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 1:59pm

In my experience the sole reason for having fitness centers, day care, dry cleaning, ATM's, cafeterias et al, "on campus" is to keep the sheep in their pen longer during the day and not be distracted from their appointed rounds…the yoga class was not authorized by the management team to be an opportunity for spiritual development, or to improve health and well-being…it was to be a tool to get people that tether themselves to their phones a few minutes to recharge before getting back to driving revenues

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:36am

    I had to reply to your comment. Finally! someone else who understands the reason for these on campus benefits!! I've been telling this to friends who want to work for companies mainly because of these benefits. I am one of those people who just want to go home and hang out with family or friends when I am done with work and prefer not to hang around there all day for these benefits.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 12:03pm

If this article was about being considerate to those around you I would be on board. I would not take this class at FB because apparently phones are allowed. I would not take a class from any teacher who allowed phones.

But this article is not about using a cell phone in class. Not really. It is mostly about getting a measure of revenge on people at FB by telling one side of a story. There already are way too many one-side "I am right and those other people are so very wrong" articles here on EJ.

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:04am

    oh boo hoo – poor beleaguered corporation – Facebook's "whatever the kids wanna do let 'em do it because you're just the help and therefore powerless and not actually important" policy is ludicrous, and their treatment of the yoga teacher is grotesque, and both of things should indeed be made known…why would you defend Facebook as if it were some godlike entity?.It's a company, and quite a crass one. This author took a risk, and was very very brave in writing the truth about what it's like behind those walls….this teacher was not valued, nor was her expertise, professional judgment, or yoga itself….if any of these employees were regarded similarly when hired to bring their special skillset to the table, god knows they would throw public tantrums from Menlo Park to Napa Valley. This were nuthin.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 5:04am

      In this country, America, there is still the tenet and legal concept of corporate personhood.

      The megalith company, Facebook, is treated as an entity of one person. No more, no less. How ironic.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 12:36pm

      No where did I defend Facebook. I pointed out the inherent hypocrisy of the article. Too bad you are on the pro-hypocrisy bandwagon.

      The author took no risks at all. It takes no courage to post one side of story in the absence of the other parties involved.

      You will have to do much better than this childish post if you want thinking people to take you seriously.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 8:39am

I am inspired by your article. I am going to begin composing an article about people who compulsively say "Really?!", and then follow it with a rhetorical question about the thing they are upset about. I find that people who talk like this, (which is fast becoming everyone in America, everywhere and I do mean everyone), sound like catty spoiled whiney brats. Not that that's you, but it just sounds like that to me. Instead of pausing your demo to do the "Really?!" monologue inside your own head, why not continue on in spite of the distraction in order to serve the majority of the people in the room who are not on their phones? Really?! You can't overcome one little distracting person in the front row who is on their phone? OMG, I think I caught it. Really?!

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 8:57am

    That being said and all humor aside, I am sympathetic about your job loss. It sounds as if you are very sincere and passionate about teaching and I'm sure you will find an even better situation where your students are as into it as you are. When one door closes, another opens. Namaste!

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 5:15am

The concept of being present with your practice should apply to the teacher too.
Phones ringing, people talking, walking in or out of class or taking a phone call happen.
If you're teaching and you're fully present you will notice what is going on, judge the room's reaction and then only if what is going on requires immediate attention, act. Obviously if someone is injured or gets dizzy or sick the teacher would stop and assist. Other than that, keep going.

It would have been easy for you to speak to the person or management after class. They stated the work conditions when you were hired. Your reaction was not only judgemental it was covert.

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 11:57pm

    um, anyway — you know what? there's nothing wrong with having boundaries and standards when you're a teacher. You seem really judgmental tho, wagging your finger and telling the author she knew the Rules and ought to have blindly been obedient to the Rules, at the expense of jeopardizing the whole class' experience due to one self-centric person's actions.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 6:37am

      C'Mon – whether Alice knew the rules before or not she was less than yogic about how she handled the situation.

      anonymous Jul 13, 2012 5:26am

      Agreed, teachers should have boundries and standards, however she was in someone elses space and knew their "rules" going in. I used the word covert because in my opinion, she accepted the gig knowing their rules without any intention of following them.
      Sorry that the only response you could come up with Swiss, is to call me judgemental. That seems to be the overriding accusation in the yoga world when yogis and yogini's can't make their point any other way.

anonymous Jul 9, 2012 12:26am

I would not call what I am doing gossip, I didn't say if it was a man or a woman, or this students name.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 12:40am

    Oh wait I did say it was a woman, well anyway. It's not really about her, its about the management at FB.

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 11:10pm

I get your frustration. But when bringing up the person who could not settled in a meditation I must beg to differ. I teach yoga. I identifiy with the woman. I had a hard time sitting or lying still when I started practicing yoga. You were and are judging this person from a perspective of an experienced practitioner. This is not about people being rude in a yoga class. This is about you having no compassion for your fellow practitioners. The less you see yourself as a teacher making people realize their better self the more you can offer guidance and support with open mind and heart to those who are ready. Shame on you to gossip about your ex-students. The reason why you are fired is not what you think.

    anonymous Jul 14, 2012 3:20pm

    I feel compassion when I see my students lying in Savasana unable to relax and fidgeting. I cannot assume it is because they are technology freaks. That is to limited a biew. There are millions of reasons. They are the most in need of yoga…

      anonymous Jul 14, 2012 3:21pm

      Just noticed my spelling mistakes… ok, no edit option I guess…

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 6:34pm

Phone manners in class, yes. Rigid rules, not so much. I really appreciate that under some situations a phone is an important part of a person's 'life.' Who knew what may have been going on in her life that particular day. I appreciate the teachers who are easy with this. I have picked up my phone to take a picture of something I wanted to keep a record of for home practice later. Perhaps checking in with the teacher first would be respectful. Sometimes people can be reminded to do that. Is the teacher reflecting on his/her own state and checking that the transference of "judgement" and irritation be noted within? I have tended more and more to respect the needs of students in classes, while acknowledging that being the teacher is a tough job sometimes with the countless situations that can arise. Yes, there are some common sense courtesies people taking class need to be cognizant of. . but sometimes they aren't and sometimes they just need to have a chance to figure some of it out. Basically, if you choose to take that seat of the teacher, ya better get ready for the heat.

    anonymous Jul 8, 2012 9:23pm

    Well thank you for your support. I am glad we have started a conversation. For me I thought NOT using your phone in class is 100% the norm, but I have seen that it's not. There are a ton more comments (positive and in the middle) on Facebook – FUNNY! – where I have learned also 24 hr fitness lets the student leave their phone on. I will never teach there, for more that just that reason.

    For me I get more feedback and support hold to this boundary, that yoga class be a cell phone free zone. I would prefer it too, as a teacher and a student. So for those I will take on this issue, if I take some shit for it, that is fine.

    Of course I understand there may need to me some exceptions!

    The once that happened the student told me at the beginning of class. She was obviously worried about her kid and did NOT pick up the phone in the middle of class.

    As I have stated above that was not the case with this student, on that Monday afternoon, and the management knows it was not an emergency, and fired me anyway. I think its a shame to fire a popular teacher over ONE person complaining about anything.

      anonymous Jul 8, 2012 11:13pm

      Wow. You call yourself a popular teacher. Let's meditate on that.

        anonymous Jul 14, 2012 3:16pm

        There could have been more reasons for firing the teacher in this case. Maybe people in general wanted another teacher.. and this was a good moment to make the 'switch'? dunno… only a supposition.
        Wishing you the best Alice anyway, that through this experience you, students and all of us can keep growing and letting ego dissolve…

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 5:32pm

Okay, so some of you are being judgmental of Alice because she is bothered by people using cell phones in yoga class. I've attended class, and if a teacher reminds me of certain rules, such as being on time (I've not been so good about that), I recognize that s/he has the right to set some limits, within reason. (And I believe turning off cell phones or having them on silent is within reason–I wouldn't turn my phone on during a movie or play or in church, so why is it okay in a class, whether yoga or auto mechanics?) If I am dealing with some difficult situation at work or at home, what I'd want to do is inform the teacher ahead of time and if need be, step out. A student in a class I was teaching approached me before the class began and told me that at x:00, he had to take a work related cell phone call, but that he would step out at that time, take the call, and return, and would I be okay with that? I thought that his approach was very considerate and told him so. So it's possible to accommodate emergencies with cooperation on both sides. And it seems fair to ask for the class's attention during something as deeply meditative as yoga. What I've done that's helped minimize phone distractions (and saves me as a teacher some embarrassment b/c I've been known to forget to turn off my phone) is to take out my phone at the start of the class and turn it off or silence it–telling students that I don't want my phone to go off in mid-class and disturb us all, and could they also please check to make sure their phones are off or silent? It seems to me that if you've not had any other complaints, management should not have taken such a harsh action for something like this.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 7:49am

    We are not judgmental af Alice for being bothered about the cellphone use.. people are expressing their thoughts about how she is venting about being fired for breaking the FB rules. iI you break the rules you can be fired.
    Cellphone or not.
    The rule was"let them do what they want".. that, on hiring would imply.. that cellphone use as well as arriving late and leaving early, drinking coffee and gasp!talking would be allowed. I dont agree that those actions belong in a yoga class but I have experienced as have many the consequence for not adhering to rules along the employment path.
    Just recently a lifeguard was fired for saving a drowning person "outside' the area of the private beach he was hired to oversee. In Huffpost recently a story appeared about a chain store(Walmart?) which fired an elderly long time greeter because at her post on Black Friday she fell from crowd pressure and grabbed onto a customer's arm as she fell.. her offense- touching a customer.

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 3:16pm

wow 700 views and 11 comments.. curious that the other 689 didnt want to type out something.. oops oh I get it they had to text to someone…

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 12:20am

    I'm only typing out something to reply to your stupid comment. Why does someone have to comment on each article they read?

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 10:09pm

    I confess to falling asleep while reading your comment. I awoke to discover my giant, bulbous nose had all but permanently depressed the "refresh page" button on my keyboard. So I must sheepishly bear responsibility for a good 600-650 of those views.

      anonymous Jul 13, 2012 2:01am

      hahaha kudos to trololol and huh xD

    anonymous Jul 19, 2012 11:53am

    Quite often I will read an article, and the comments, and see that my views have been covered succinctly, and not feel a need to reply further.

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 3:04pm

Your stance seems very judgmental and rather self-righteous. I would love to see more yoga teachers ‘just be’. It’s not about you. I would rather a person come late, leave early, and have their phone than not come at all. When you are of service, teaching is a lot easier.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 3:23am

    "I would rather a person come late, leave early, and have their phone than not come at all"
    But if your class becomes known as distraction-friendly, dedicated students will leave as they will not feel respected; these are basic rules not only of yoga class, but also of manners 101. For every texting, chatting or disrespectful student you accommodate you alienate some respectful students… you just don't/won't know because they will leave quietly.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 4:36pm

    Erika, you've got to be kidding me! You're letting the inmates run the asylum. Good teachers have boundaries. Crappy teachers want their students to "love" them so they let them do anything. And yes, the author is being judgmental and good for her. A student that can't comply with boundaries needs a good "beating" if you ask me!

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 2:37pm

    I think you missed the point that its not about the teacher, its about the class as a whole. Its distracting to have someone clicking away while the teacher is explaining something. I for one would stop going to a class where the teacher allowed people to wander in and out, text, etc.

    anonymous Jul 10, 2012 10:37pm

    Erika, I'm guessing from this comment that you're not a teacher. If I'm wrong, then one of those who needs the love and approval of their students, maybe? Good teachers, in any field, do not tolerate disrespect for other students, and checking your phone during class is unequivocally disrespectful. I am of service, in an acedemic teaching environment as well as in yoga, and that makes it even more important that my students follow the basic rules of respect since I am there to help them improve their lives and get the most they possibly can from their education/yoga practice. Rule number one in any learning environment is check your ego at the door and respect your fellow learners and the teacher. That is non-negotiable.

    This article reminds me of why yoga should not be taught in gyms. The facebook management need to be taught what yoga is, that it is not exercise, and it is not acceptable to tell a teacher to allow anybody to do anything they please during a class. But when has facebook ever been respectful towards its users? It's not a stretch to believe that the whole organisation is so self-centred and self-righteous that this would happen in a yoga class there. Explaing to them would be throwing pearls before swine.

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 7:19pm

      heck I wouldn't even expect a teacher of step aerobics to allow phones…it's rude and not safe…in a class at all let alone yoga!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2012 8:36am

    I disagree! The coming late/leaving early and phone is not about the teacher, it's about the other students who are being disturbed.

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 9:46am

It is a recent development in our lives to have 'instant communication' although emergencies have always occurred. Things used to wait. How has the cell phone allowed us to decide that nothing can wait? We also had spoken or unspoken social contracts about 1. Showing up on time. 2. Not talking during a class or movie. 3. Letting the teacher be in charge. This teacher seemed to have those basic expectations of her students, which do not seem unrealistic. I disagree that her article is "whining" nor do I find her attitude 'demanding.' Perhaps what is incongruent is "assuming" that people come to yoga to get centered, when apparently some come for the exercise.

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 7:37am

You took the job knowing the rules. You violated the rules. You got fired. Why whine about it? You are not a victim in this. To me this post comes off as sour grapes and an attempt to get back at the people of Facebook.

A better solution may have been to make the subject of the entire article be about people needing a break from technology. Or a write a post about employment aligning with ethics.

    anonymous Jul 8, 2012 3:15pm

    cold hard honesty, right on!

    anonymous Jul 8, 2012 5:44pm

    But to fire someone over ONE complaint? That's harsh. I also have emails from other employees backing me up, most students don't want cell phones in class. It's distracting for everyone.

      anonymous Jul 9, 2012 11:14am

      Harsh? Most likely. Fair? Probably not. If there were no other factors and you were fired for one complaint then in the long run you are better off.

      It still would have been a much better to write an article about too much technology or being polite to one's neighbors or finding "right" employment.

    anonymous Jul 8, 2012 6:46pm

    True That !

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 12:33am

    Is the rule to let students do whatever they want? So what about the multiple students, and I'm certain there's more than one, who want to practice yoga undistracted? Not everyone likes to pay good money for a class just so they can see others derp around.

    I'll tell you what the real difference is – when people are happy and satisfied with how things are going, they don't say a thing. But the one person who doesn't get what they want? They go straight to management to complain.

    However I agree she's not a victim – she should be happy to be done with a business as aimless as "letting students do whatever they want". She can only go up from here!

      anonymous Jul 11, 2012 9:08pm

      I completely agree with you. We shouldn't allow one person to ruin other peoples only time to dedicate to the mselves. She is better off in a different environment.

    anonymous Jul 9, 2012 4:32pm

    You're off the mark, MikeG. Perhaps you need a chakra balancing! Just kidding! We've turned the practice of yoga into a fitness routine. The whole concept of what the ultimate purpose of yoga is for is missing with so many people. Yogi studios need to take a hint from a good Zen master and don't with hold the keisaku! Don't suffer fools!

    anonymous Jul 12, 2012 8:34am

    Thank you! That was my thought exactly MikeG.

anonymous Jul 8, 2012 3:04am

Assume nothing! What makes you believe that someone who doesn't want to turn off their phone during class is doing this because of something not important or not urgent. If your relative is in surgery, and you want to know the outcome you should just skip a class? What if you are awaiting a call from your child's daycare about a sudden illness or injury?
If someone is trying to take my class even though there is an emergency brewing in their life, I would take that as a complement. Since when yoga teachers stop giving people benefit of the doubt?

    anonymous Jul 8, 2012 1:05pm

    I know this student was not having a personal emergency. She was checking work email.

    anonymous Jul 8, 2012 11:22pm

    I think if a student has a reason to check their phone–because, for instance, s/he is a midwife, has a relative in surgery, or needs to be available to small children–it stands to reason that s/he would tell the teacher before class and ask if it was okay to leave the phone on vibrate. This still would not necessitate checking email. If it's an emergency, a student could put the phone on vibrate or very low volume, share his/her concerns with the teacher (along with a warning about maybe needing to leave before the class is over) and get on with the class. In the class I attend, doctors or midwives have sometimes left class when their phones vibrated, and no one batted an eye. If you need to be checking your email all the time, then maybe that should take precedence, and you shouldn't come to class. Yoga class is the time to UNplug, not plug in.

    anonymous Jul 11, 2012 10:30am

    If you're in crisis and waiting for an urgent phone call which you have to take without fail, then what the hell are you doing in yoga class? Talk about avoiding the elephant in the room…

    anonymous Jan 2, 2013 6:18pm

    The polite thing to do is to speak with the instructor prior to the class to tell her that you will need to check your phone because you have an ill family member. I am a college art professor and I have a policy about cell phone use in the studio. Students are told that if they need to use them due to family emergencies they should see me prior to the class. If the student really thought it was an emergency and she had her phone on and saw a text she could excuse herself from class to check it, that would be the polite thing in order not to interrupt the flow of the class. The problem is that cell phone usage has become intrusive and it changes the flavor of all types of instruction. The yoga class is not just about one person it is about all of the students in the class having a certain kind of experience.

anonymous Jul 7, 2012 8:06pm

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 – they have to LOOK in it! Keep at it, girl! And your bio is hilarious…'but has not dated JF.' Ha!

anonymous Jul 7, 2012 6:23pm

I have taught corporate yoga in some very tricky environments (picture in the middle of an open floor gym, with treadmills, fans, and TVs) in my 10 years of teaching. I was eventually able to weed out the places I knew weren't a good fit for me. I'm not a fitness oriented teacher, so a fitness oriented environment doesn't tend to work for me. I never let management tell me what to do either. I once turned down a job at Google because they said I couldn't Om. It's great they said that before things got going – people show us who they are, and we get to decide who we want to be in response.

Now changing hats. As a trauma therapist, I'm also aware that , yes, people get addicted to technology and constant checking. It's like their neurophysiology has this impulse/drive to go, go, go and they turn to their devices to follow/feed that impulse. Slowing down actually feels uncomfortable in sometimes significant ways. The drive doesn't necessarily come from overuse of the devices (though they make it worse), but from a lifetime of almost self soothing through action. Their nervous system is jacked up so high that if they slow down, it sends an alarm to the brain that there is danger. So they work/go/check until they ultimately collapse. Sometimes it's a collapse with a little c, sometimes with a much bigger C. This pattern is very dangerous long term, in part because symptoms aren't generally that uncomfortable for a good long while, and the rewards are reinforcing, so by the time someone seeks help, it can be trickier to treat.

Besides for informational purposes, I wrote that because it's one of the ways I find empathy for the workaholics in my classes. I'm a workaholic too (in partial recovery), and I know how it feels – to go, to achieve and get the high, to collapse, and luckily now, to slow down and feel good. So even yoga teachers aren't immune.

This complex that I'm describing is an epidemic in our culture (especially here in Silicon Valley), so I'm hoping we can have empathy, and gently educate these chronically overactivated people.

Thanks for listening

    anonymous Jul 7, 2012 6:28pm

    Thanks Brandy!

    anonymous Jul 7, 2012 7:21pm

    yes that self-soothing element is a tricky one.
    If it becomes a conditioned need, then what happens to society with all these self-soothing people running around textign while driving, etc.. it is downright scary.

anonymous Jul 7, 2012 5:37pm

You are on point with every point, Alice!
As yoga teachers, we are responsible for our students’ safety and maintaining a quality of respect in our classes.
That includes self-respect. Taking care of yourself serves your students best.
Multi-tasking is the opposite of yoga. Make a choice.
After almost 7 years of teaching, ,I experienced my first non-yogic student experience as a sub teacher. During guided meditation, 2 students came in late. ok..I understand…it happens. Then, I heard 2 students carrying on a conversation. One of them was the same one who came in late.
He decided the room was not warm enough. Instead of asking me, he got up and adjusted the thermostat. He, also, left class prior to Savasana.
Being considerate, respectful, polite and thoughtful are right for on the mat and off the mat.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Facebook lost a good yoga teacher. They are promoting qualities in conflictt with common, decent human interaction.

anonymous Jul 7, 2012 5:16pm

well, I have several thoughts:
1.) file for unemployment
2.) since they had told you to let the students do what they want.. it wasnt your look at her, it may have been the asking which made you get fired
3.) it is possible she had a friend or family member in a hospital and wasnt thinking much about her position in the studio.. simply waiting for life or death
4.) while I hate to see phones in yoga classes even friends talking to their neighbor. I take issue with your words which feel a bit shaming or controlling.." as a yoga teacher I want you to experience that break too.." those are your rules, ethics, needs in teaching yoga. Some teachers know that students need a 55 minute dialogue on how to live their lives.. I quit that studio.
5.) You need to teach in a studio with rules and expectations which match yours.
6.) I dont have a smart phone and am disconnected from some events.. its a bit amusing to see which of my friends can handle making a plan and stickgn to itwithout texting!

    anonymous Jul 14, 2012 2:37pm

    when a student takes out their cell phone in class they are infringing on the other students. if she has a someone in the hospital or an emergency she could tell the teacher ahead of time and discretely step out when the t ext or call comes.

    anonymous Jul 28, 2012 3:49am

    regarding point
    4): Yoga is break time, There's little arguing with that. & IF students can't respect a teacher then it is NOT the teacher who must please them. Ideally the student respects the teacher as well as the class they interrupt. Respect for teachers is a preliminary of being any kind of student.

    5) If a yoga studio supports that students don't commit an hour to their own wellbeing then you are maybe right, teachers shouldn't support this with their time. However: wouldn't we have all thought that such Studios don't exist?

      anonymous Jul 28, 2012 6:29am

      and if the teacher does not like the rules he-she should not take the job and then hange the rules..
      and if the rules are ¨let them do what they want´and the employee has already been warned about breaking this rule..
      then, then, the employee has no reason to be so surprised.
      I do nto like cellphone use in a yoga class. I do appreciate the power of an employers rules.

anonymous Jul 7, 2012 4:00pm

I have taught corporate fitness for 20 years. I have been at Apple Computer for 15. Never in my life have any of my students used their phones in class or been disrespectful in any way. Alice is right on the money with her approach to making a safe, quiet and reflective space for her yoga students. She is the teacher. She sets the rules and is in charge of that hour of time. If one of the students doesn't have the 'time' to give to her yoga study or to her health and body, then she should not attend and disrupt others calm state of being. This is ridiculous. Maybe you need to come over to Apple. The management and the students are awesome.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 1:11pm

You re not going crazy. The same happened to me hence, I posted two of the same comments.

anonymous Jul 11, 2012 7:01pm

haha Thanks for letting me know I'm not crazy Tanya 🙂