No Phones Please

Last week I went to a morning reformer pilates class. 7am start so I arrived at 6.45 and as I took off my shoes and hung up my coat, I noticed (quite obviously) a woman sat on her laptop, tapping furiously at the keys. I didn’t think too much of it, although I did take a moment to appreciate that I was at a 7am class without needing to get my work done first and gave a little thought to the poor woman who was clearly quite stressed already before most people were out of bed. I went through to the studio and sat on the reformer, waiting for the class to begin. Moments later, the woman appeared, laptop in hand and sat on the next machine, tapping away. She continued to take every short break as an opportunity to tap away and no one said or thought anything. She would move between the furious typing and the furious reformer-ing like it was the most normal thing in the world. It wasn’t. It isn’t. But I was having a good time and was glad that somehow I managed to stay in my space and not let it distract me too much.

I did think back though to the days where I used to bring my phone into the yoga studio (yes, I admit it). It was a long time ago, but if I arrived early, I would sit on my phone doing emails on my mat. Now, if I arrive to the studio early, I lock my phone in the lockers as quickly as possible - any chance to be away from it and I’m there with bells on! But what I wish I had been more considerate of, was the impact on the other students joining the class, who might b savouring every phone-free minute they can get, much like I do nowadays. I didn’t think about the impact on them.

Then, this week a student arrived in my class, sitting on her phone on a mat near the door, where very other student walking in to the class would catch a glimpse of the bright screen. I hadn’t met this student before but in a way that was less articulate than I would have liked (because I still find it a bit uncomfortable telling someone what to do sometimes), I asked her to either put her phone down or use it outside of the studio before class for her own benefit as well as everyone else’s. I wish I had been a bit more articulate, stuck to my guns and really shared why, but in stead I just tried to be polite, assured her that it came from a good place and promised her that I wasn’t fierce (she thought I might be)! Just days before I came across this meme on social media, and I wanted to share it but feared it might upset someone.

So here I am explaining my reasons for why I don’t like phones in the studio, something that I will do my best to enforce in a kind and nurturing way, as it comes from a kind and nurturing place.

We make such a small amount of time in our week for self practices. If you have one yoga class a week, probably just 60 minutes to honour yourself through this beautiful practice, the few minutes before and after class are deeply connected to the impact the class can have on your day. For the same reason that I don’t rush to make it to a yoga class when I am running late, I want to encourage my students to really honour this sacred time on the mat, and give themselves the space we truly deserve away from the business of the rest of our lives.

According to Andrew Przybylski, the lead researcher on a study at the University of Exeter says "The presence of a mobile phone may orient individuals to thinking of other people and events outside their immediate social context. In doing so, they divert attention away from a presently occurring interpersonal experience to focus on a multitude of other concerns and interests." If we are in a space to focus on connecting to ourselves, the last thing I would want to do is distract anyone from being able to do that.

While we may be trying to squeeze in that last email or arrange the dinner date you have booked after class before you head offline for an hour or so, other people may have already switched off. Bringing your business into the class doesn’t just impact you but it can really affect the other people in the space.

So what I am trying to get at is this: our days feel busy, our lives feel busy, but we can take back some of that control in the form of deeper connection to ourselves through practices like yoga. Yoga isn’t just about the shapes we take on the mat, but also the way we allow that to translate and impact how we conduct ourselves in all areas of our lives. Think about your own energy, about the energy that you bring to a space, and the impact that might have on the greater environment and community around you.

If you can’t imagine stepping into class with that last thing on your list hanging over you, then wait outside the studio until you’ve hit send. And then switch it off, disconnect and come together in a beautiful space for this wonderful practice of yoga.

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Annie Clarke1 Comment