That awkward moment when you arrive to the yoga studio—after rushing through traffic and running up the stairs to unroll your mat—you finally take a breath… “Ahhhh.”
“I made it with minutes to spare.” You adjust, sit tall and look around the room… to find that no one else is there!
“Fine!” you tell yourself. “I’ll just get a great spot and wait for the rest of the class to show up.” Only now it’s three minutes until class starts and you begin to panic.
“Oh no, am I really going to be the only one in class? I don’t even know the teacher that well. I didn’t wear a good outfit, and how long is this class again?”
Your eyes dart around the room to look for the exit sign, all while drumming up an excuse like your car is running, or you forgot you are meant to be dog sitting for your great aunt.
This is right around the time when we should hit the pause button and take a deep breath. We would be wise to tell ourselves: this is basically a private yoga class, and I should take advantage of this right now! If the studio you’re attending is kind enough to let the teacher continue with teaching only one student, you just scored yourself a private class for less than half the price!
Granted, I know not all of us will want that type of attention to our yoga practice quite yet, or we may not feel comfortable with the teacher having eyes only on us—we’ve been a little intimated or maybe, we’ve got a crush. But what a blessing it can be for one-on-one time that your teacher would never be able to give you during a packed asana class.
Some of the work that happens in yoga is internal, transformational, and humbling. So if we can work past the fear or humility of being the only one in the room, there is a lot of potential growth for you and your yoga practice. (The teacher will not be looking at you the whole time, I promise.)
Most teachers take this time when it’s just the two of you to ask you if there is anything you have been wanting to work on, or any specific areas in the body that you would like to focus on. This is where a teacher can help you make small adjustments to poses that rock your world.
I once arrived to teach a brand new yoga class, and was hoping for a packed class. In walked my first student and I thought, “Yes, here we go!” But, minutes before class started, I could sense the tension, as the student looked around the room and asked, “Is it just me?!”
I smiled and replied, “Yes, you are just that special,” and joked, “I’m going to have to charge you the private class rate!” In my mind, the atmosphere and the intention of the class had changed to just that—a private yoga class for this special yogini.
When I noticed the discomfort and the hesitation, I asked if she wished to continue and said that we didn’t have to go through with the class if she didn’t feel comfortable. I’m not here to force anyone to do yoga, especially if they’ve come to class hoping to hide in the back and get into a yoga bubble!
But, both in agreement, we began our practice.
I checked in with the student’s needs, stress levels and any areas of practice they wanted to work on. Halfway through the class I noticed a shift in energy in the room, and there was laughter when I slipped up and said, “Now everyone lift your right leg,” when there was just one student. There was also a sense of ease and trust throughout the rest of the practice. We were both able to let go of our expectations, and find something more beautiful: a better connection to yoga!
So the next time you find that you’re the only student in the room, smile and know how lucky you are.
Author: Mija Speakman
Apprentice Editor: Ellie Cleary / Editor: Catherine Monkman