It’s the full moon today and the full moons tend to brings things to the surface, shining a light on the dark shadows - we see the dark side of the moon! It also makes me rant!
In my shadows, I’ve been doing my best to ignore the fact that over the last few months’ people have been coming to yoga and not paying. I don’t mean those who forget their tokens or forget their purse, I mean people who really have very little intention of ever paying.
Before Christmas, two girls came to my Sunday morning yoga class and left without paying and have never been seen again. At the winter solstice class, the one and only man left without paying – but he did leave me a rather cumbersome thick polystyrene tube, of which I have little use so it now sits in the St Martin’s community centre collecting dust until I guess I need to do something to dispose of it, thank you!
Then recently with the New Year rush (why do we rush to yoga in the new year, rushing never did anyone any good, I can tell you that from experience!), yet more new people promising to pay at the next class and then never turning up again.
I know I’m not alone as I’ve spoken to other yoga teachers who experience the same thing. Others keep lists to encourage payment, whereas I work more so on trust, trusting in the goodness of people to let me know if they cannot afford to pay, and trusting that what’s meant to happen, happens.
E thinks it’s hilarious. He wonders how many people go to the shop and forget to pay when they leave, or perhaps pay only a bit of what’s due (because often only part-payment is given).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the money that’s important to me. I mean it is to a point, in terms of I earn money through teaching yoga to pay for my ongoing training, and it helps to sustain my young family, but money isn’t my primary motivation for teaching.
It’s the principle that has been bothering me, the fact that some people just think it’s OK not to pay, or choose not to discuss it with you first, to place no value on my training or the service that I’m providing to them, or on yoga itself.
This isn’t to say that you need to pay to respect yoga or to place value on it. There’s no need for an exchange, it won’t imbalance the Universe as some say. That’s just the ego. Sometimes I don’t want people to pay, certainly not my family. But again it’s just common courtesy to pay if payment is required to attend.
One of the eight limbs of yoga comprises the yamas, the ethical standards and sense of integrity that we are encouraged to adopt in our lives. One of these is called Asteya, meaning non-stealing and not taking what does not belong to you or that which is not willingly given (makes you think, right). Another one is Satya, meaning truthfulness. We begin to err naturally towards these standards the more we practice yoga.
It’s ironic therefore that the people who choose not to pay, are the people who need to practice yoga the most. With practice not only do we become more aware of the ethical principles that underpin practice, but we come to recognise the value of yoga in our lives for the many benefits it provides. Furthermore, we also begin to take a little bit more responsibility for our lives too, as we come to recognise that every decision we make, has an impact on someone else, and with that we become more mindful of the choices available to us in any given moment.
We also learn to let things go. And this full moon today is all about letting things go. So with that in mind, I too let this go, and just ask that if you’re reading this and you’ve a tendency not to pay for your yoga class then please reflect on that…it’s Imbolc tomorrow and that brings with it new beginnings so I’m just going to deepen my trust that what’s meant to happen, happens!
With love and gratitude