Today a woman yelled at me in the middle of teaching a gentle yoga class. She was upset that I wasn't demonstrating. She informed me that she felt I wasn't doing my job correctly.
I offered to speak to her about it after class. I quietly explained that she was disrupting everyone's practice and it would be best to discuss this later, but this did not please her.
She decided to walk out. Before she did, though, she turned to face the class and announced how she felt it was ridiculous and screamed, "I'm leaving! Who's coming with me?!"
One woman followed her.
I do demonstrate sometimes, but if I'm demonstrating an entire class, I can't have astute eyes on the students. I save demonstrating poses for complex asana or transitions, or if something wasn't understood well. By not demonstrating, I can see which cues are effective and where my communication skills need work. If I am practicing with my students, then the practice becomes my own, not theirs. I need to cater to the needs of their bodies before my own ...
But this woman's outburst was not about me nor the way I teach. For whatever reason, she was feeling uncomfortable on her mat. So all I could do is hold space for her to feel heard and to vent her frustration. I am sorry I was unable to do that effectively. I feel for her that she was annoyed and upset. I feel sad for the rest of the class that their practice was so aggressively disrupted. I feel for the manager of the establishment who had to take time out of his busy day to both pacify this woman and discuss the incident with me.
All I feel right now is compassion.
What do you think yogis? To demo or not to demo?