Put the Phones Away | My Thoughts on Phones in the Classroom

I can’t believe I have to say this, but please leave your phones out of the yoga studio. I haven’t written about studio etiquette since 2010, but it seems I need to revisit it again, especially in regards to the phone issue. I know a lot of other blogging yoga teachers have shared their thoughts on this so maybe it’s old news, but I’m taking time here on my corner of the interwebs to say my piece. Otherwise, I think I might explode.

Here’s why. I was quite surprised last night when a cell phone appeared and mad texting began. I gave the students a few minutes at the end of class to take a few final postures they needed before heading to savasana. It was a challenging class, so most everyone was taking it easy and doing their own thing, some opting to go straight for relaxation. One student however, got up off his mat, walked over to his belongings, pulled out his phone and started texting. I was surprised and made comment to (paraphrasing here) “try and leave anything outside of the classroom, outside of the classroom for the time being.” I thought he would get the message, but rather than put the phone away, he walked back to his space and put the phone near his mat.

What? Really? There’s ten more minutes of class. Do you really have to have your phone near your mat?

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe some emergency may have come up and so he was concerned he might be needed. But all during class he never made a move for his phone. And most students who are in this position let me know before class that something might come up. If something comes up they quietly leave the room to take care of it.

Okay, maybe I’m bitter. A few weeks ago I was leading a discussion in a teacher training program and it was all I could do not to walk out of the room by the blatant texting that was going on while I was teaching. By blatant, I mean the secret but obvious “hiding your cell phone in your bag and digging through it every two minutes to look for something, pausing to punch in a few words and then putting the bag away, wait a few minutes and do it again” to name one instance. Sadly, there were others.

And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that student had an undying urge to rummage through her bag every two minutes read something and then put it away that only seemed like texting. But I don’t know, it sure smelled like texting to me. Nevertheless, it was distracting and infuriating all at the same time. I was surprised by the disrespect of the soon-to-be yoga teachers. A few students came up after and apologized for the other students in the class. Apparently I was not the only who noticed.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this situation. What occurred, how I handled it, becoming the observer, how to let it go, etc. In hindsight, I should have said something then and there, but at this stage in the game I didn’t think I had to. I would never be so disrespectful to my teachers and the other students. But not everyone operates that way I suppose.

What made me most upset about the whole phone usage thing was that here I have been giving and giving and giving to these students and instead of paying attention, they decided that being on their phones was more important than the teachings. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but that’s the way it felt. I suppose I shouldn’t take it personally, but this particular issue is personal to me. I’ve sacrificed so much time with family, friends and myself and poured my heart and soul in to the teachings and to have students casually popping away on their phones really hit a nerve. So bitter I may seem yes, but I think it’s only natural.

I don’t know what to say about the incessant cell phone usage I’m seeing. I certainly ask all students to put them away when class is underway. If you want to use your phone before or after class, that’s fine, but during…let’s not. Instead, let’s focus on what you came here to do. Slow down the mind chatter, stay present and let go of these attachments that only lead to more suffering. As Alice Van Ness says, the  FB Yoga Teacher famous for getting fired for asking a student to turn off her phone says “turn off your phone and turn on your life.” Otherwise I ask, why are you showing up on your mat?


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    What I’ve had to start doing at the beginning of my speech therapy sessions is to be upfront with a “no texting during the session” rule and treating it as a “general policy, I need to review this with everyone” rule.
    Unfortunately we are still catching up with social etiquette around texting, tweeting etc in social situations.
    I think it would be totally acceptable (if not kinda sad) to begin a yoga class with a “please leave cell phones in your bag” type comment.

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    I am a Yoga instructor from Bangladesh and owner of a yoga studio. I feel very disturbed if I find any practitioner is busy with the cell phone. Everyone should keep the phone switch off during class time and should be focused and to be more attentive in practice.


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