Ghosting Your Yoga Teacher
I was recently having a discussion with a friend of mine about her experience with the world of online dating when she told me about the term “ghosting.” Apparently when you’re spending time with a dude, everything seems to be working out beautifully, and he suddenly up and disappears, he is ghosting. Have you heard of this term? How funny and perfect is that! Interestingly enough, even though I have thankfully been out of the dating world for quite some time, I could immediately relate to this scenario… Just like in online dating, ghosting happens within the yoga industry!
When I first started teaching Ashtanga yoga, I was surprised by how often students would attend a few classes and never return. Without knowing any better, I would take it personally and immediately blame myself… Am I a shitty teacher? Was I unable to successfully connect with that student in class? Did they notice how many times I fucked up my Sanskrit counts?
Even regular students can become ghosts! They’ve been extraordinarily dedicated, coming to class 3 days a week religiously for months, and then suddenly they’re gone. Sometimes you’ll get advanced warning for the upcoming disappearance. Other times, none at all. There is no rhyme or reason.
I’d be lying if I said that I no longer get bothered by it, because I sometimes do; I thoroughly enjoy my students' and their presence in class! However, I now have more ability to separate myself and recognize that my students yoga practice is their own. They have the ability to come and go as they please. There is zero obligation to the yogic path, only willful dedication. If yoga needs to take a backseat, students can make that decision with no explanation owed to me.
Life happens! There are a myriad of reasons why a yoga student will turn ghosty… Stress, busy work schedules, holidays, injury, lack of interest, money issues, family commitments—the list is endless. All of these reasons are valid! Do I sometimes feel as though a student should be coming to class anyway? Absolutely. But that is not for me to say. It’s not my life, it’s not my decision, and it’s not my practice.
Sometimes the ghosting student (like the ghosting dude on Match.com) will return as quietly as they left. Other times, they’re never to be seen in the yoga room again. So, what can I do? I can continue to teach. I can open up my shala doors everyday for those who want to be there. I can open up my arms for those that want to return to the practice after their ghosting adventure. I can be grateful for all of my students that have tried to commit to this rigorous spiritual practice, even if it wasn’t meant to be. I can keep getting on my own yoga mat, with willful dedication.
In the end, it’s my life. It’s my decision. It’s my practice. That's it.