Teaching in a fitness center

On Monday I was asked to sub a class at a gym in the city center of Sydney. The class was called "Off the Mat Yoga," where, supposedly the teacher would lead the class to explore postures outside of their own rectangular rubber things. Being a rookie that I am and having had no experience with bringing yoga off the mat (and just being my uncreative self), I just led a 50-min general flow class, confined within the mats. It was quite an experience. First of all, the room was huge. It could probably fit 80 mats in there. There was a mic I could use but chose not to since I wouldn't feel comfortable with it. (And how are you supposed to demonstrate a posture with a belt and a bulging device around your waist?)  The hardest part was that there were a mix of students in there. A couple of them had no prior experience with yoga, and there were a few who obviously knew what they were doing and were breezing through the sun salutations. The students were all so spread out that it was hard for me to give any adjustments.

The class was 50 minutes long, and scheduled to end at 6:30pm. Somehow the gym managed to schedule a step box aerobics class right at 6:30pm. As I was instructing my class into savasana at 6:25pm, already there were 20-30 or so people lined up outside the classroom, waiting to get in. The minute we exchanged our namaste's and the students started getting up from their mats, the aerobic junkies came swarming in. Bang bang bang they laid down their step boxes and other equipments, breaking whatever serenity and silence I tried to bring into the yoga class earlier. Blaring pop music from outside infiltrated the calmness.

Apparently, I was really shaken by this contrast from your regular yoga studios. While I do appreciate that more and more gyms are offering yoga to their members, the gyms can only provide the superficial layers of what yoga is about--the true gem of yoga is clouded over by the external distractions in your typical gym. Those who really see that there is so much more to yoga than physical asanas would eventually be drawn to smaller sized yoga studios. At least their savasanas would have a more lasting effect! :)