One of my teachers, Judy Baker cautioned us as yoga instructors about the importance of practicing asteya – “non stealing” – when teaching public classes (in a gym or studio).
Most yoga teachers are familiar with another class starting within 15 minutes of the end of their class. And and along with the class on your heels comes another teacher and students. Teacher and students are itching to get inside the yoga space (studio). And inside the studio, where you (perhaps correctly) think your students want to stay in savasana for longer than the class timeslot allows. Also inside the studio with us are our students, who have other commitments after our practice time together concludes.
To exceed our allotted time in such instances is effectively stealing the next teacher’s pre-class integration time and stealing our students’ post-class transition time to their next activity.
So Judy’s lesson was to practice asteya by behaving mindfully of other peoples’ time around their yoga practices. In short, start and end your classes on time. And this lesson extends beyond the yoga studio. Even to islands.Anytime we keep someone waiting, we are “stealing” their time and placing our own experience above theirs. There are always reasons and excuses for running late...but the flip side of our running late is that someone else is waiting for us.
So to the island-folk, on the United States territory of St. John, where the culture is primarily molded by the US mainland, and inhabited by once mainlanders- running late to deliver water, perform maintenance, discuss joint business ventures, meet with prospective customers, or any other interaction – it is not in the spirit of asteya to keep another person waiting. Even couched in the disingenuous....”sorry, running on island time here”.
Islanders’ message back to me is probably....relax, have a pina coloda. However, I no longer buy it! I believe it's an excuse for laziness.Having consideration for others is a universal trait of good manners and compassion in the culture of the United States. No amount of sand, water or palm trees changes that value.
This is not to say that we should be “on time” at all costs... life happens, and it is not always possible.
However, timing (like teaching a class or showing up for a meeting) that is within our influence is most considerate when treated with the restraint (yama) of asteya.
Book suggestions, with explanations of the yamas and niyamas: