this morning, i went to a studio that i had never been to before. i arrived about 15 minutes before the start of class to find the studio dark and locked. hmm... 5 minutes before class was supposed to start, a car pulled in -- and it was another student. we waited by the door, and were just about to leave (since it was 5 minutes past when the class was scheduled to begin), when the instructor pulled into the lot.
she was friendly and nice, but also didn't act as if this were out of the ordinary. after signing in and setting up, we started a good 10-15 minutes late. it was an enjoyable practice, and i felt the slight tension/confusion begin to melt away as we gracefully moved from one posture to the next.
savasana was sweet and accompanied by a much-appreciated head and neck massage. there was no clock in the studio, so when i got back into my car, i was surprised to see that we ended nearly 20 minutes late. since we started late, i understand the notion of giving us a full class, but she hadn't checked with us to see if we were able to stay late. it was fine with my schedule, but i know the other woman who took the class was headed to work afterwards.
it's important for yoga teachers to remember that their students have a life outside of the yoga studio. be on time for your classes -- actually be early. get the music ready, the candles lit, your mat rolled out and be ready to welcome students as they enter. end on time -- you don't know what your students are up to or where they're headed afterwards, so show them respect by ending on time. if you feel like you need extra time or might go over, let them know, and give them the option to leave.
i know that yoga's more about intuition and feeling than time tables and schedules, but if you consistently disregard these professional courtesies, your students will likely resent you or even choose to forgo your class (or yoga) altogether. give them the best possible first impression -- and subsequent impressions. you're the face of "yoga" for many of them -- do it justice :-)