Get friendly with your yoga neighbor

Photo by Monica Felix @

Get friendly with your yoga neighbor

Our first few years of yoga took place in the midwest.

Our studios were large, spacious, sparkling clean and you never practiced less than two feet away from another student.

But when we relocated to a major metropolitan city, classes were different. Brooklyn isn’t exactly what you would call spacious.

I’ll never forget our first class. We’d been in town two days. It was cold and snowy and blistery outside. And there were enough students crammed into the room to make the fire marshal nervous.

Right before the stroke of eight, our instructor accounted:

Okay folks, looks like we have to work mat to mat tonight, so, get friendly with your neighbor.

You should have seen the looks on our faces. Our personal space vanished into thin air right before our eyes. At which point our instructor bent down and whispered:

Welcome to New York.

It was a rude awakening, no doubt. But also a perfect introduction to our new surroundings and an apt metaphor for living in a big city. When everyone’s in your face, you can’t escape them; only engage with them.

It’s proximity enforced acceptance. There’s not enough time or space for judgment to enter.

And yet, as awkward and suffocating it feels at first, ultimately, it’s a good thing.

Anytime we can short circuit our fear system and launch right into acceptance, our posture changes in every sense of the word.

How many people did you go out of your way to avoid last week?

Scott Ginsberg is the author of 35 books, a TEDx speaker, the world record holder of wearing nametags, and the author of A Year in Hot Yoga: Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat. 

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